Cockatiel Growth: The Babies Day by Day!

Note of caution: If the parent birds you are working with are not used to being handled or around humans a lot, any major disturbance to their nest might scare them into hurting their own young.  This not only includes when cleaning their nesting box or looking in on them, but especially when handling babies or taking out part of the clutch for hand feeding.  They may not only trample their young, but also purposefully kill them.  Use extreme caution if you decide to handle babies and clean their nesting box only when desperately needed (for mold and such things), cleaning only a small part of the box at a time unless the parents' are trusting and do anything not to scare them if they are in the box with the babies (possibly use a signal like a light tap or brush on the box to warn them when you are about to open it). 

Day 1:

The first cockatiel baby:
(Laid 3-11-09, Hatched 3-31-09 ~ Later called "Gray")

It's much earlier than we had thought they would come, as you can see from my journal entry.  They must have started to incubate the eggs almost right away rather than waiting until the clutch was almost all laid.  These babies are going to be days apart in age as they hatch...this should make for some interesting aging pictures!  It is the sweetest thing to be able to sit across the room and hear the baby chirping to its parents.

I hope they continue to be great parents and look after this little one!  Clarice has been eating a lot of the moist corn bread and fried chicken egg which is a good sign that this little baby will be eating well.  Petri has been eating a lot as well and has decided to spend even more time in the box now that this little one has hatched.  He is in there almost as much as Clarice is now.

Day 2:

Still just one baby...

You can notice the size difference between the cockatiel baby and the egg has grown somewhat! (In the day 1 picture the baby's body including its fuzz is about as big as the other eggs, now it is a bit larger than the eggs.) This little one seems to be doing great.

Day 3:

The Second cockatiel baby hatched! (Laid 3-13-09, Hatched 4-2-09 ~ Later called "Pearl")

I thought it would be a bit easier to tell them apart, but the one lying underneath the other one is the new one that hatched today.  It's good to know that the little, slightly larger egg that I was worrying about was taken care of and hatched after all!  This might also explain why there isn't as much of a size difference between these two... bigger egg = bigger chick!

Day 4:

Still two babies...

The older chick is the one under the other one.  You can see that they are both quite a bit larger now than their fellow egg siblings.

Day 5:

Still two babies...

They keep on growing as you can see in this picture!

The third cockatiel egg did not hatch today.  After looking at them a bit closer, I noticed that one is quite a bit darker than the other two.  I suspect that this darker egg is probably fertile, while the other two are not.  Maybe the one that was supposed to hatch today was one of the infertile ones?

Day 6:

The third cockatiel baby hatched! (Laid 3-15-09, Hatched 4-5-09 ~ Later called the gray twin)

This baby literally just hatched before I took this picture.  Its fuzzes are still wet down and it's broken egg shell is laying in the nest.  You can see a big size difference here between the older two and the newly hatched baby!

I candled the remaining two eggs and discovered that they are in fact fertile!  I could feel the baby in the forth egg moving when I picked it up!  The baby born today and the moving egg were both the lighter colored ones.  From the pictures yesterday and the extreme color difference, I was sure they would be infertile...I'm pleasantly surprised!!

Day 6 second surprise!

Surprise again!!  The one that moved in my hand hatched today as well!

(Does that count as twins; Can birds have twins!? Haha)

The Forth cockatiel baby hatched! (Laid 3-17-09, Hatched 4-5-09 ~ Later called Spot)

Day 7:

Still four cockatiel babies and one egg sibling...

Day 8:

We officially have a total of 4 cockatiel chicks! 

The fifth egg did not hatch for some reason.  When I checked it out, the chick was dead and underdeveloped - about two days from hatching.  I don't know what was wrong.

The oldest baby's eyes are just starting to open and it's getting a dark spot on it's head where the crest feathers will be!

Day 9:

It's hard to get these guys to sit nice for pictures!

The older two cockatiels are both starting to open their eyes now and the twins (hatched on the same day) are both very different sizes - the one on the far right and the small one in the front.  The one on the far right was in its egg two more days than the small one, so maybe this accounts for the difference?

The oldest one on the far left is 9 days old now. (Gray)

The second oldest is the one in the middleish smiling for the camera, its 7 days old. (Pearl)

And the twins (the small one in the front and the one on the far right) are 3 days old. (Gray Twin and Spot)

Day 10:

The oldest cockatiel is on the far right (Gray), the second is on the far left (Pearl), and the twins are the ones in the middle and bottom (Gray Twin and Spot). 

The size difference continues to increase between the twins...I hope the smaller one is developing correctly (Gray Twin); I have been checking it every once in a while to make sure it is getting fed - and it is.

Day 11:

The eldest two cockatiels are still working on opening up their eyes!  I also noticed today that the older one (Gray) clearly has gray crest feathers while the the second hatched has yellow (Pearl)!

The younger two just keep growin and the smaller one actually seems to be catching up a bit! (Gray Twin and Spot)

Day 11 - a better picture for size comparison

You can see that the cockatiel twins are starting to get a bit closer in size, though the one who hatched second is much fuzzier than the other!

Day 12:

The pin feathers on the older two cockatiels are getting longer and longer! 

The less fuzzy twin is starting to open it's eyes! (Gray Twin)

Day 13:

Everyone is getting cuter!  Their feathers are coming in stronger and only one baby cockatiel doesn't open it's eyes yet. (Spot)

Day 14:

All the cockatiel babies have their eyes open now!

The eldest (14 Day old ~ Gray) is the larger one with the gray crest.  I believe is will be normal gray in color when we finally get to see it's feathers.

The second eldest (12 Days ~ Pearl) is the one with the yellow crest.  I believe this little one is going to be pearl in color!  We were hoping at least one of them would be pearl, since Petri's sister was pearl (Petri also had one pearl tail feather in his first feathers) and Clarice has quite a bit of pearl in her as well!

The younger two, both 8 days old are just starting to get their pin feathers, so we don't have a guess as to what color they will be yet.

Day 15:

The pin feathers on everyone are getting longer and the younger two cockatiels are finally getting their crest feathers in.  The fuzzier one looks to have yellow pin feathers (Spot) and the other's looks lighter gray at this point (Gray Twin)!

Grey - 15 days old


Pearl - 13 days old


The Twins (Spot and Grey Twin) - 9 days old


Day 16:

Everyone is growing so fast! 

You can see the orange in the older two's cheeks is finally starting to come through. 

The crests on the younger ones' heads are growing as well!

Day 17:

Gray (17 days old) and Pearl (15 days old) have been moved to the cockatiel nursery!  (For more about the nursery set up and hand feeding, check out the Nursery and Hand Feeding page!)  My main reason for moving them now is that soon they will become more mobile.  They will need to be working on strengthening their muscles and learning to eat foods on their own.  This transition now allows them to get comfortable with their new surroundings before they go and explore!

Above: The older two have been moved to the nursery!  Below: The younger two remain in the nest box in their parents' care!

The younger two cockatiels (11 days old) will remain here for another few days.  At this point in their development, it is easier for their parents to feed them and they will be moved to the nursery when they are 14 days old.

Day 18:

Angry cockatiel babies!  They still aren't too crazy about their new location or their "new mom" feeding them... 

Their feathers have been growing like crazy and are finally starting to come out of their shells at the ends.

Above: the older two (18 days old and 16 days old)  Below: the twins (12 days old)

More angry cockatiel babies!  They don't like being woken up for a picture. 

You can see their crest color much more clearly.  The one on the right is yellow (Spot) and the one on the left is gray towards the front and yellow in the back (Gray Twin).

Day 19:

Gray and Pearl's cockatiel feathers are coming through more and more every day! 

Their hand feeding is going great now too, they chirp for me just like they chirped for their parents!  They are also starting to explore the nursery just a bit though they haven't quite ventured to the other side yet.  They are stretching and playing with expanding their wings!  They are starting to poke around the ground when they get hungry, pushing bedding aside and tasting things around them.

Above: Grey (19 Days old) and Pearl (17 Days old)  Below: The Twins (13 Days old)

These two little cockatiels will be joining their older siblings tonight and start hand feeding tomorrow morning! (Clarice will be going home tomorrow as well - read more on this transition in Being Pets)

Day 20:

The cockatiel babies are all together again and hand feeding is going great!

Four little babies! Gray (20 days old), Pearl (18 days old), and the twins (14 days old)

It looks as though two of these cockatiel babies will be pearl and two will be normal gray.

Day 21:

The older two cockatiels have been loosing a lot of their feather casing and are now starting to look like real cockatiels! 

The younger two have just started to loose the casing on their flight feathers.  Their color is starting to come through much stronger as well and the fuzzier twin (the one between the older two) has a grey spot on the back of his yellow head! (You can see it in some of the "Nursery" pictures)

Grey - 21 days old


Pearl - 19 days old


Grey Twin - 15 days old


Spot - 15 days old


Day 22:

Four full babies!  This picture was taken right after they were fed so their cockatiel faces are a bit wet from me cleaning them up.

Gray (22 days old), Pearl (20 days old), and the Twins (16 days old)


Day 23:

Gray (23 days old), Pearl (21 days old), and the twins (17 days old)

The older two cockatiels are starting to peck around the ground and carry the bedding around a bit.  They continue to become more mobile and will soon need to be moved to a cage where they can exercise start to investigate other types of food.

The younger two continue to grow.  Their feathers and color are showing more and more every day!

The babies are all still in the nursery and doing great!

(The color in this photo is a little bit off...not sure why)

Day 24:

The older two cockatiels have begun to make new noises!  They still do their "feed me" wine, but have a cute little chirp now as well. 

As you can see in the picture, they have all been getting a bit too curious.  I pointed out yesterday that they were starting to play in the bedding a bit and I soon found that they were taking small bits of it and chewing on it!  I became concerned that they might actually start to eat it and had put a towel between them and the bedding.  It is definitely keeping them away from the bedding, but is quite a bit messier.  The towel has to be changed twice or more a day because though the moisture is still absorbed by the bedding, their poo gets stuck on their feet...this is why I tried to avoid the towels in the first place, but at least they will be moving to a cage within a couple days so we won't have to deal with this long!

Gray (24 days) Pearl (22 days) and The Twins (18 days)


Day 25:

The cockatiel babies graduated to a cage today!  So far they are doing great in it.  (I've been keeping a close eye on them, as they are not used to walking on a grate - no problems so far.) 

They are feathering out a lot more and continue to grow, getting more and more curious as well.

Gray (25 days old) Pearl (23 days old) and the Twins (19 days old)


Day 26:

Gray (26 days) Pearl (24 days) and the Twins (20 days old)

Day 27:

Reunion!  Clarice came to visit for a bit and we got a family pic!

Gray (27 days) Pearl (25 days) and the Twins (21 days old)

The cockatiel babies are still doing great.  They have a cute little range of noises they make now and are finally beginning to investigate the other sources of food that I added to their cage.

Day 28:

The cockatiel babies have been moved to a larger cage today since they all are pretty much feathered out and are going to need a lot more room to run around!

(This is the cage presented as the baby cage -the previously pictured cage was a smaller cage that I chose to put them in for transition due to their age gap and for heating purposes.)

Gray (28 days old) Pearl (26 days old) and the Twins (22 days old)


Grey - 28 days old = Cinnamon split to pied


Pearl - 26 days old = Cinnamon pearl pied


Grey Twin - 22 days old = Cinnamon split to pied


Spot - 22 days old = Cinnamon Pied


Day 29:

Everyone is doing great!

Four little cockatiel babies! : Gray (29 days old) Pearl (27 days old) and the Twins (23 days old)

This picture would have been cuter if it were clearer, but it shows off Spot's pearl rear end (It's like he's wearing a little grey jacket since his head and rear end don't match his grey wings and back) and Pearl's new perching skills!

Day 30:

As you can see the cockatiel babies have been being a bit naughty... I discovered the older babies feeding the younger ones!  When the younger ones would be calling for more food after feeding time, Gray in particular would go and feed them.  This of course isn't really a big problem except that I would like to be monitoring how much everyone is eating!  I ended up having to put a barrier between them for now to get them to stop doing this.  Hopefully with a few days of separation, they will get out of this habit.  (And don't worry, most of the time they aren't huddled together like this picture)

Twins - 24 days old


Grey - 30 days old, Pearl - 28 days old


Day 31:

Pearl flew around the dining room last night!  It was exciting.  It was practicing it's wings and lifted off the kitchen table a couple inches, so I sat on the floor with Pearl and it took off!  It was very exciting, but it also meant that I had to clip it's beautiful flight feathers...

Everyone else is doing great as well.  Both Gray and Pearl have been perching like crazy and starting to eat a bit of pellet on their own, both also exercising their wings a lot.

Gray (31 days old), Pearl (29 days old), and The Twins (25 days old)

The younger cockatiel twins are eating like crazy and will soon be catching up to their older siblings.  They don't quite have the balance yet to perch much, but have been picking at the dry foods a bit too and practicing their wings.

Day 32:

Gray made it's first flight this morning!  We were sitting on the living room floor playing and Gray was standing on my knee.  All of a sudden Gray just took off!  It went a half circle around the room before landing on the couch! Ha, soft landing!

Gray (32 days old) Pearl (30 days old) and the Twins (26 days old)


Days 33-36: (Click an image to see it larger)

Not much has been changing with the cockatiel babies... Their tail feathers are getting longer and the older two have become stubborn eaters as they want to spend more time out of the cage flying! 

Everyone was out on the table today learning how to eat on their own.  They had been picking at the foods a bit in their cage, but I wanted to make sure everyone was actually at least crunching on the dry foods.  Petri was out with them a bit as well, and as you can see from the picture he has already forgotten that they are his children and thought it was ok to flirt with Grey and Pearl!  No worries though, I watched them all very closely and was right there next to the table in case there was any funny business (which there wasn't).  The older twin (the one with more gray) is the only one who hasn't quite figured out how to pick up the food on it's own. 

The older babies are also perching almost all of the time now and have figured out how to get to the higher perch I placed in their side of the cage.  The younger babies are just starting to perch and work on their balancing. It's amazing how much a 6 day difference really makes!

Day 37:

Gray (37 days old) Pearl (35 days old) and the Twins (31 days old)

The oldest two cockatiels have become very picky eaters now.  They are eating a lot more on their own and are not too happy to still be hand fed most of the time. 

The younger two showed me that they can fly today! I had them all out on the table, watching them eat on their own and teaching them how to pick up food, and the younger two both flew from the table!  They caught me by surprise! 

(click on a photo to see it larger)

Final Pictures: