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Animal Detail ViewՄանրամասն` նրանց մասին

28.02.2012

Cockatiel (Nymphicus hollandicus)


Scientific classification

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Aves

Order: Psittaciformes

Family: Psittacidae

Genus: Nymphicus

Species: Nymphicus hollandicus

 

Description

The Cockatiel is the smallest member of the cockatoo family. Long time it was not clarified if it really belongs to this family because it differs strongly to all other members. Nowadays it is proofed that the species belongs to the cockatoo family but it forms the own genus Nymphicus.
The slender and streamlined body achieves a length between 25 and 35 centimeters and a weight up to 90 gram. The tail is very long and with a length of 15 centimeters it makes up half of their total length. It is the only tail of any crested parrot which comes to a point.
Due to the long-time artificial breeding and selection meanwhile many different coloration are common in the species. In wild both sexes show similar characteristics. Males are brown to gray with patches and white bordered areas. The cheeks have bright orange round patterns, also bordered with white. Females are mainly gray as well and their cheek patches are more drab but also brown-orange and surrounded by light colored feathers. The underside of the tail feathers tends to varies more in coloration compared with the rest of the plumage. Color and pattern alternate. Both sexes have a brown iris. Characteristic is their crest on the head which is approximately 5 centimeters long. It is used for social communication and mirrors the mood of the bird. As all parrots the Cockatiel is zygodactyl which means that it has two toes directed backward and two directed forward. This makes the bird to a great climber and facilitate its movements because flying through the dense forests is hard.
In wild members of this species can achieve an age between 10 and 14 years whereas individuals in captivity often live much longer. In average a caged bird lives up to 25 years but the oldest Cockatiel was reported with an age of 36 years.

Range and habitat

The birds are endemic to the Australian mainland and are widespread throughout the continent. In Southwest it is most common. Furthermore the species occupies Tasmania, but it is considered that it has been introduced by accident.
Throughout Australia it appears in almost every kind of vegetation, even if it avoids very dense forests.  Open water is important for them and therefore it prefers areas with waterways and waterholes as in savannas or open woodlands. At water sites flocks up to 1000 birds can be seen.

Behavior

Cockatiels are social birds which live in small to middle-sized groups or large flocks with several thousand individuals. This groups are nomadic and move constantly to fresh water and food sources. All in all the birds are shy animals which always choose flight if they feel threatened. In the air they can reach more than 60 kilometer per hour. During fly the tail feathers are spread out to remain stability in the air.
How a Cockatiel is feeling can be recognized on its plumage. If it is frightened it contract the feathers, in case of contentment the feathers are puffed. Outside feathers are waterproofed which is achieved by a regular preening process in which the Cockatiel covers the feathers with an oily substance that is extruded by their uropygials or sebaceous glands. Additionally it has a powder down composed of keratin which also supports to waterproof the plumage. After preening dust clouds coming from the birds can be seen when the birds start to move again and shake themselves. In sunlight the oil from uropygial glands produce vitamin D which is ingested by the bird while the preening session. Furthermore the plumage has an important role in insulation in order to retain proper body temperature.
The birds can sing melodies but are not able to imitate human voice. Various calls are used in different situations and can be used for communication over relatively long distances. Especially during mating season males sing in order to attract a female. For visually communication the crest is very helpful. Normally held in a 45-degree angle to the head, it is laid flat on the head when the animal is threatened or during flight in order to reduce wind drag. Sometimes, but especially during mating season, the birds are seen sitting with both wings upwards and outwards. Probably this is a method to impress other birds.
In dangerous situations the Cockatiel can conduct a powerful bite. However, this is its last defending mechanism and it is actually only used by direct confrontation with a predator in its nest.

Diet

Cockatiels are mostly ground foragers. Their feet makes them not only to great climbers but also to good walkers. Their beak is specialized for eating seeds from grass, shrubs and tress which they are searching in open areas. Their upper beak is used for removing shells and also the tongue supports that seeds are eaten in less seconds. Sometimes they pick up seeds directly from plants as well.
Water is gained from fresh water sources as water-holes. According to the danger of predators they drink fast and oversee their surroundings as much as possible. The method of metabolic water production helps the bird to survive a long time without drinking.
Next to their preferred food they are flexible to eat also fruits, berries and some small insects.

Reproduction

The birds are monogamous and form a pair bond with one other bird that lasts at least the entire year.  Before mating both genders exhibit ritualistic displays in which vocalization is quite important. Whereas females call sounds with low voices, males sing more melodies which are accompanied by certain movements. Wings are hold in different positions, proud walks takes place and pounding with the beak is used to attract a female. Moreover it is the duty of the male to observe a preselected hallow where the female can lay the eggs. In general nests are found in high tree hallows, preferred in dead eucalypts,  and are not far away from an offer of fresh water. After a suitable nesting site is found and the male has convinced the female about the safety, mating can start. The exact time of breeding depends on climatic factors but normally occurs between August and December.  4 to 7 eggs are laid by the female with one egg per day. Females have the ability to replace lost or broken eggs. Both parents share the duties of incubation and rearing but the tasks are strict clarified: So cares the father during the day, the mother the whole night for the eggs. After 17 to 23 days the young birds hatch and in an age of 5 weeks they become independent from their parents but often stay in the family.  Males achieve sexual maturity after 13 and females after 18 month.  Linked to the fact that the parents share all the duties parental compatibility is essential for successful reproduction.

Conservation  Status

Cockatiels have a very large range and densely populate the Australian mainland. The exact population has never been quantified for this reason and they are not considered threatened currently.
On the IUCN Red List of Threatened the species is qualified as Least Concern.



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