Cockatiels originated in Australia. There is only one type of cockatiel, Nymphicus hollandicus, but cockatiels come in several colors or "mutations." If you want to add one of these social little birds to your family, you will want to decide which mutation you'd like to have.
This is the natural color of a wild cockatiel. If you saw a wild flock in Australia, you'd see males with grey bodies with a white stripe on each wing, bright yellow heads and crests, and those cute orange cheek spots. Females look the same, but their yellow heads and orange cheeks are paler.
Lutino is the term for a cockatiel that is white with a yellow head and bright orange cheek spots. Lutino males and females look the same.
In a whiteface cockatiel, the areas of the head that are typically yellow and orange are white instead, as the bird's mutation name suggests. Females have grey faces and no cheeks.
Cinnamon cockatiels look very much like the normal grey birds. But instead of grey, their bodies are more silver-brown. Some may appear more brown than silver. Females have light orange cheeks but no yellow on their faces.
Pearl is a pretty mutation in which the feathers are spotted white and yellow. The spotted pattern varies. Males may lose their spotted look as they get older, while females stay spotted all their lives. Female pearl cockatiels have yellow faces.
"Pied" cockatiels have patches of white and yellow on areas that are typically not those colors in other mutations. Pied patterns vary widely, but according to the National Cockatiel Society, it is preferred that they are 75 percent pied and 25 percent the color the bird would normally be (such as grey or cinnamon). You cannot differentiate between genders.
Kathleen Roberts has been a writer and editor since 1996, specializing in health, nutrition, gardening and outdoor living. She received her master gardener training at the University of Florida and has more than 20 years of experience with herbs and supplements.