When Were Cockatiels Discovered? A Brief History of the Beloved Bird.

The cockatiel’s history can be traced back to ancient Aboriginal rock art in Australia, where they are depicted as early as 8,000 years ago. These depictions feature the distinctive crest on their head, which is a defining characteristic of the cockatiel.

First Recorded Sightings

European explorers first encountered the cockatiel in the late 1700s, during their travels to Australia. However, it wasn’t until the early 1800s that the cockatiel was officially described and named by naturalist George Shaw. He named the bird Nymphicus hollandicus, which translates to “little New Holland nymph.”

Scientific Classification


The cockatiel belongs to the family Cacatuidae, which also includes other well-known parrot species like the cockatoo. Within this family, the cockatiel is classified as the only member of the genus Nymphicus.

Related Species

Cockatiels are closely related to other parrot species native to Australia, including the galah and the corella. However, unlike these species, the cockatiel is not known for its ability to mimic human speech.

Domestication of the Cockatiel

Early Pet Keeping

Cockatiels were first kept as pets in Australia in the early 1900s, where they were known for their singing and whistling abilities. They quickly became popular pets, and by the 1950s, they were being exported to other countries around the world.

Popularization in America

It wasn’t until the 1960s that the cockatiel became popular in the United States. In the years that followed, breeding programs were developed to create new color mutations, which helped to increase the bird’s popularity even further.

Modern Cockatiel Breeding

Color Mutations

Today, there are several different color mutations of the cockatiel available, including lutino, pied, and cinnamon. Breeding programs continue to create new mutations, as breeders work to produce birds with unique and striking appearances.

Breeding for Behavior

In addition to breeding for appearance, some breeders also focus on breeding for desirable behaviors, such as singing or talking abilities. However, it’s important to note that not all cockatiels will develop these abilities, even if they come from a line of birds with strong singing or talking skills.


The cockatiel has a rich history, dating back thousands of years to ancient Aboriginal rock art in Australia. Today, these beloved pets continue to capture the hearts of bird lovers around the world, thanks to their charming personalities and unique appearance. Whether you’re a long-time cockatiel owner or you’re considering adding one of these feathered friends to your family, it’s clear that the cockatiel is a truly special species.

ThePetFaq Team