Lutino Cockatiel

A Few Facts About the Beautiful Lutino Cockatiel


The two things every Lutino cockatiel shares with every other Lutino cockatiel is a bright cheek patch and a distinctive topnotch. The Lutino has a long tail. The tail in fact makes up about half of the bird’s length. Other than that, these birds can come in a wide variety of colors and color patterns. These differences in color are primarily due to breeding mutations, of which there are many. The National Cockatiel Society considers a true Lutino as having a color that is somewhere between pure white

and yellow. The head is almost always yellow or yellowish, the cheek spot is a bright orange, and the eyes are always red. A cockatiel having this coloring is said to have a Lutino color, so the name has to do with the coloration more so than the species. Since the Lutino itself is a mutant species. Since this bird is an easy one to breed it is probably not surprising that many mutations exist.


A Mutant Species Discovered by Accident


The very first Lutino, actually the first two Lutinos, appeared seemingly quite by accident. They were among a clutch of eggs that, once hatched, brought forth several chicks having the normal gray coloring, and two almost pure white ones. That happened back in 1958. Once it became possible to breed one Lutino to another, these cockatiels took the pet world by storm. Since the Lutino is a strain that is bred by breeders, it is never seen in the wild.



A Gentle Pet


A cockatiel makes a great pet. It’s a member of the parrot family, but one of the quieter members. They are not noisy birds, nor do they get upset if they are left alone. Male Lutinos can learn to talk, and can do so fairly well. They can also learn to whistle. Females can sometimes be taught to say a few words, but it can take a great deal of patience to get them to do so, and many never quite get the hand of it. These birds like attention, but they don’t really demand it. The topnotch or erectile crest atop a cockatiel’s head givens some indication as to its mood. If the crest is half erect, everything is normal and going along as it should be. If the crest is fully erect it means the cockatiel is excited, or has in some way been stimulated. If the crest lies flat, be careful. The bird may be angry or feeling defensive. A flat-lying crest can also be a sign of submission.


When these birds were first being bred, it was not uncommon for them to have a bald spot or patch on their heads. This bald spot was apparently a result of selective breeding. Numerous breeders have tried to breed this bald spot out of the birds, to varying degrees of success. Today, it is possible to find a Lutino that has only a tiny bald spot or virtually none at all. If you should purchase one with a bald spot, there is nothing wrong with the bird. It’s in the genes.


Males and females look so much alike that attempting to sex them can be close to impossible if you rely on visual inspection only. Both males and females are born with a barring pattern on the underside of the tail. When the males molt for the first time, this pattern is almost always lost. An adult parakeet, which would be one several months old that has this barring pattern will almost certainly be a female. On many females however this pattern is very faint, and on some of the female birds you can’t see the pattern at all. DNA samples are often relied upon to positively identify the sex of one of these birds.


A Normally Healthy Bird When Given Proper Care


The Lutino cockatiel is a very hardy little bird. When properly cared for it will rarely get sick. The first sign of serious illness generally takes the form of rapid weight loss. If nothing is done, the weight loss can prove fatal. Feathers that continuously appear to be ruffled are another indication that the bird may be ill. A cockatiel that is ill or unhappy may pick at its own feathers, something a healthy or well adjusted cockatiel won’t normally do. You can leave one of these birds alone for hours at a time without any problem developing, but if they are neglected for too long and too often, and they don’t have a companion, they may start a feather picking ritual. Although normally fairly quiet, they may also take up screaming to gain attention.  The distinction needs to be made between occasional grooming and picking at feathers. Cockatiels are also subject to catching cold and suffering from heat strokes, so it’s important to keep the cage temperature within a certain range. A cockatiel that spends most of its time at room temperature and is kept out of drafts will usually stay healthy.


The cockatiel is a native of Australia, the source of these pets were imported. These were predominantly the wild, or gray cockatiels. Beginning in 1994 the Australian government placed a ban on the exporting of cockatiels, so any that are purchased in the United States today are from captive and not wild stock.