Do Cockatiels Change Color?

Sudden cockatiel discoloration will catch your attention. You will be used to your cockatiel being a certain shade, so if it begins to change color, you may be concerned that something is amiss with its health. But, do cockatiels change color?

Cockatiels change color as they get older, but only when aging from chick to adult. At this time, cockatiels have their first molt and develop their complete, adult coloring. Once fully grown, cockatiels don’t change color again. After that, any changes are due to illness, disease, stress, or molting complications.

Young cockatiels may not look like their parents, leaving you wondering if your cockatiel will change color.

Likewise, you may be curious if a cockatiel is aging, if it’s turning brown, developing black streaks, or if its colors have become less vibrant than they were in the past.

Don’t assume that sickness is why your cockatiel changes color. Instead, you will familiarize yourself with the varied explanations, as some of them are inconsequential.

Do Cockatiels Change Color As They Age?

Cockatiels only change color during the physical transformation from chick to adult. Once a cockatiel has reached maturity, its final color will be permanent, and it won’t change for the remainder of its life.

However, a cockatiel chick’s final, mature color will depend on its genes. Only the grey series of a cockatiel naturally occurs in the wild, and all other colors result from genetic mutations and selective breeding.

Genetic mutations can increase how much extra color your cockatiel gets when it ages. Also, mutations can eliminate pigments and cause a cockatiel to remain its base color.

All cockatiels start with one base color regardless of their breed or mutation. So, for example, normal grey cockatiels may show bright yellow feathers where white feathers before were.

As a chick grows, it will develop more color. If a cockatiel has a genetic mutation, it may blend the colors in unusual patterns or maintain its primary color.

Do Cockatiels Feathers Change Color?

Cockatiels can’t alter the pigment of their feathers like a chameleon, and adult cockatiels can’t change their feathers’ colors. Instead, baby or juvenile cockatiels experience a color change in their feathers due to growing up and undergoing puberty.

Just as humans may experience a change in their hair color when they reach puberty, your cockatiel will. That is because its genetics dictate what its final adult form will be.

The most drastic change will be when your cockatiel turns one year old. Its color genes will be identified at this time. Then, the cockatiel will moltOpens in a new tab., shed its baby feathers, and grow adult feathers of its final color.

Why Is My Cockatiel Changing Color?

Your cockatiel may change colors for the following reasons:

1. Maturity

As young cockatiels develop, their plumage and cere will change color.

The down feathers of cockatiels are a mixture of whites, yellows, and greys. As these soft, fluffy feathers are shedOpens in a new tab., they will be replaced with those of a mature cockatiel.

These new feathers ought to be bright, robust, and elegant. With a few typical variations, their hues will generally correspond to the species’ typical tones.

2. Broken or bent feathers

Near the shaft, broken or bent feathers will darken more than the rest of the feathers.

It may be possible that a discolored area indicates a damaged group of feathers. This is usually due to running into a cage wall, getting tangled in a rope toy, or fighting with other cockatielsOpens in a new tab..

Also, damaged feathers can be due to improper handling. For example, allowing a child to play with the cockatiel may have caused an injury. In addition, over-handling can stress a cockatiel and cause it to flail, harming its feathers.

Broken feathers aren’t an immediate concern because they will be replaced in future molts. However, the presence of blood means that your cockatiel has damaged blood feathers. Therefore, a vet should remove blood feathers and the wound covered with cornstarch and gauze.

3. Fungal growth and parasites

The University of Miami claims that fungusOpens in a new tab. can cause birds to grow black streaks on their wings and backs. While this infection doesn’t immediately affect a cockatiel, it can cause other health issues.

For example, a cockatiel will be at greater risk for aspergillosis, a respiratory infection caused by mold. In addition, fungal infections can be life-threatening to cockatiels.

Cockatiels are at greater risk of developing fungal infections when kept in small, unclean environments. So, regularly maintain the cage and allow the cockatiel to spend time outside it. After two hours, discard any food, clean up any spillage, and sanitize the cage.

However, a vet can prescribe antifungal medication if a cockatiel has a fungal infection. Your cockatiel’s current feathers won’t recover, but they will be replaced during the next molt.

4. Illness and disease

Discoloration and other symptoms can mean your cockatiel is unwell.

Alternatively, stress and illness may wear down your cockatiel until it becomes nutrient deficient and can’t maintain its feathers and coloration.

Stress bars are common signs that a cockatiel is discontented. These leave prominent lines across their plumage because they impact the feathers’ strength and color.

Stress bars will be accompanied by additional symptoms, such as:

  • Lethargy
  • Lack of appetite
  • Abnormal feces

Healthy Cockatiel Feathers

Healthy cockatiel feathers should have a single, unbroken shaft.

The feather itself should be free of debris and glossy, and the barbs will be zipped together. The colors should be vibrant and clean, and the feathers should be soft to the touch.

Cockatiels have a wide range of colors, and most have several colors in their full plumage. As long as the coloring matches the rest of their bodies and patterns, they are in good mental and physical health.

Unhealthy Cockatiel Feathers

While healthy cockatiel feathers are smooth and bright with a sheen, unhealthy feathers have a completely different look.

Therefore, every owner needs to make it a weekly routine to examine the cockatiel feather’s condition.

Declining feather condition, unfortunately, is a sign that something is wrong. While cockatiels are inclined to hide illness and injuries at all costs, they can’t still hide the condition of their feathers.

However, getting into the routine of examining your cockatiel’s feathers each week may help you avert problems before they have a chance to take hold.

Unhealthy cockatiel feathers will have an odd or drained coloration, looking:

  • Oddly formed
  • Ragged
  • Frayed
  • Malformed
  • Bent
  • Broken
  • Ashy

Also, they may be dry or brittle to the touch. This can be compared to odd patterns like:

  • Banding
  • Striping

Why Are My Cockatiel Feathers Turning Brown?

Brown feathers may need veterinary attention, but not always. Consider these explanations:

1. Unclean

Usually, brown feathers mean that a cockatiel is dirty. A cockatiel can get messy due to food debris, poop, or an old/dirty cage. With older cages, rust can rub onto the cockatiel from the cage bars.

Wipe down the cage regularly and remove perishable food, such as fruit and vegetables, 2 hours after being provided. To clean the cockatielOpens in a new tab., give a bowl of water and let it clean itself.

2. Molting issues

If a cockatiel has taken on a brown hue during its molt, the molting process has been stalled, creating black or brown tips on the new feathers. Additionally, the layer of feathers on the head and neck will be thinner.

A lack of nutrients causes this discoloration. In addition, a molt taxes the body since it involves developing a new set of feathers.

Cockatiels need additional nutrients, vitamins, and minerals to facilitate the process. But, if a cockatiel isn’t eating correctly, the new feathers will be malformed and unhealthy, appearing brown or black.

3. Illness

If there is discoloration and signs of illness, reach out to your vet.

Troubling signs include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Sudden aggression
  • Withdrawn behavior
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Trouble breathing

Cockatiel’s Feathers Turning Yellow

If your cockatiel suddenly appears with more yellow feathers, it can signify liver disease. Conditions such as fatty liver disease can be fatal if it is left unresolved.

Also, certain viruses can cause abnormal feathers, but this is not a common occurrence.

Cockatiel’s Feathers Turning White

The most common reason why cockatiel’s feathers turn white is molting. A cockatiel’s feathers will start to dull as they prepare to molt. In addition, an amount of cockatiel dust can dull out the natural vibrancy of the plumage, making the feathers appear white.

Also, your cockatiel’s feathers can turn white if your bird is malnourished.

How To Improve Feather Quality In Cockatiels

To enable your cockatiel to maintain healthy feathers, offer proper care in all aspects of its life. This will include its meals, living environment, bathing, and access to sunlight.

1. Avoid stress

Long-term stress causes feather banding, which results in behavioral issues and feather plucking. So, a stressed cockatiel is likely unhappy, bored, or feeling lonely.

Put the cockatiel’s cage in a room without much activity or noise. Naturally, your cockatiel fill finds this unsettling.

Make sure the cage is big enough and has toys and enrichment materials. If you make changes, do so gradually.

A socialized cockatiel is a happy and stress-free cockatiel. Spend time with your cockatiel and allow it to join you in other parts of the house, such as having a perch in the living room.

Keep the cage away from vents, fans, or air-conditioning units. These airflows can be stressful and are notorious for dying cockatiel’s feathers and skin.

2. Diet

While cockatiels don’t rely on food for pigment, nutrition does play a crucial role in maintaining healthy feathers. To promote feather’s health, provide foods that are rich in vitamin A.

Foods that are high in Vitamin A include:

  • Spinach
  • Mango
  • Papaya
  • Brocolli leaves
  • Cantaloupe

3. Exercise

A balanced diet and exercise are necessary to prevent obesity and its disorders. In addition, aIn addition, a happy cockatiel needs mental and physical activity through socialization, play, and puzzle toys.

An enriched cockatiel will be more active and not feel the need to over-pluck its feathers due to stress or boredom.

4. Sunlight

For feathers to remain strong, vivid, and healthy, sunlight is essential.

Put part of your cockatiel’s cage in an area with access to direct sunlight. UVB lights are an alternative to sunlight. Also, remember that the light will cease producing UVB rays after six months of use.

How To Clean Cockatiel Feathers

Taking care of your cockatiel’s feathers is very important, and bathing is crucial if you want to keep feathers healthy.

Here is how to clean cockatiel feathers:

1. Washcloth

Put a clean cloth under lukewarm water, then squeeze out any extra moisture. Then, gently rub down the feathers, covering all areas.

2. Spray bottle

Fill a spray bottle with lukewarm water, lightly misting it over your cockatiel. It won’t be as thorough as using a washcloth, but it’s an excellent method to clean cockatiel feathers when it gets dirty.

Also, here are some things to consider when you spray your cockatiel’s feathers:

  • Spray your cockatiel every day or whenever its feathers will get dirty.
  • Avoid misting or spraying water directly on your cockatiel’s face.
  • Buy a commercial cleaning spray if you like, though this is generally unnecessary.

3. Sink or bath

Add a shallow amount of lukewarm water to the sing and allow your cockatiel to splash around to clean itself.

Alternatively, put a shallow water dish in your cockatiel’s cage to bathe in. Some cockatiels enjoy jumping into the water and will get on with washing themselves without human assistance.

Cockatiels rarely need shampoos and soaps to get clean. The natural oils keep the feathers strong and healthy, while cockatiels manually remove dirt and debris from them when they preen.

Cockatiel Enthusiast

My name is Bojan. I have been around Cockatiels for the past 7 years. I love writing about Cockatiels and helping people understand how these beautiful birds live, what they like, and how to provide them the best possible care.

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