Baby cockatiels rely on not just their mother but also their father up to about 12 weeks of age. When a cockatiel pair produces a clutch, which it does twice a year, both parents take active roles. Males and females alike sit on the eggs, and clean and feed the young.
When a female cockatiel begins laying, seven to 10 days after mating, she lays one egg every other day, as few as three but up to eight. A clutch of eight eggs, for example would take the hen 15 days to lay. Cockatiel chicks begin hatching after a 21-day period. Accordingly, one egg will hatch every other day, each one taking 21 days from the beginning of its incubation. Both parents remove eggshell bits and clean the hatchlings. They sit on the chicks to keep them warm but don't feed them for 8 to 12 hours after hatching. The chicks will completely absorb their yolk sacs during this time. Both parents continue to share feeding and care.
At a week of age, baby cockatiels are beginning to stand and learn balance. Pin feathers will begin to emerge. You be able to tell, at this point, when their crops are full and empty. By 10 days old, your chicks' eyes are open and the chicks themselves have grown to four times their hatch size. The quills of the first true feathers are beginning to appear on their wings, tails and crests. In nature cockatiel parents take turns being with the young and foraging. In the cage, of course, foraging is not a factor.
At 2 to 3 Weeks
Between 2 weeks and 3 weeks of age, baby cockatiel chicks are double the size they were at 10 days old. A little color is beginning to show as their feathers open. The chicks are balancing well when standing on two legs but are still not able to stand on one leg. Both cockatiel parents are still taking turns feeding the chicks, regurgitating food into the chicks' open mouths. They make the already-eaten diet thicker as the babies get older.
At 4 to 5 Weeks
Between the ages of 4 weeks and 5 weeks, cockatiel chicks can't fly yet, but they are busy stretching and flapping their wings, preparing themselves for that first flight. They're well-balanced, able to perch on one leg now. Almost fully feathered, they are adventurous creatures, climbing in and out of their nesting. In captivity, a nesting box is appropriate for the brooding couple from conception to weaning. Chicks begin cracking seed at about 5 weeks but are still getting most of their food from their parents, whether in the wild or in the cage.
At 6 to 12 Weeks
Between the ages of 6 weeks and 12 weeks, cockatiel chicks are leaving the nest box, trying out their flight feathers. In the wild they'll explore about, keeping the nest as a home base. They'll continue to come back for feeding multiple times a day at first, and less often as they learn to catch and not release. Around 10 weeks to 12 weeks of age, most young cockatiels in the wild will move on. In captivity, you'll have to be prepared to give the younglings spaces of their own as they begin to flap themselves out of space. By the time a bird's flying and eating on his own, he's set to discover the world on his own. Never take a cockatiel from his parents before 8 weeks.
Karen Mihaylo has been a writer since 2009. She has been a professional dog groomer since 1982 and is certified in canine massage therapy. Mihaylo holds an associate degree in human services from Delaware Technical and Community College.