19 Cockatiel Color Mutations & Varieties

Cockatiel color mutations and varieties

Generally speaking, cockatiels come in a wide array of colors, including many mutations. These variations are both visually striking and fascinating to novice bird enthusiasts and even the casual observer.

Of course, this is unsurprising to anyone who’s spent time with cockatiels. These birds are highly prized for their striking beauty and notable intellect, and their many color varieties make them even more remarkable.

In this article, we explore the 19 known varieties of cockatiel coloring. We will also show you examples of each type so that you can see how they look in real life. Let’s get started!

How Many Types of Cockatiel Are There?

Cockatiels in different colors perched on human hand

In the world of cockatiels, variety is the norm, with around 19 recognized color mutations. For your reference, the following is a list of those different cockatiel types:

  • Normal Grey
  • Whiteface
  • Blue
  • Emerald/Spangled/Olive
  • Silver
  • Cinnamon
  • Albino
  • Pearl
  • Lutino
  • Pied
  • Yellowface/Heavy Pied
  • Fallow
  • Clear Pied
  • Cinnamon Pearl
  • Lutino Pearl/Lacewing
  • Cinnamon Pied
  • Lutino Pied
  • Pearl Pied
  • Cinnamon Pearl Pied

However, while we currently recognize 19 cockatiel colorations, it is important to remember that there could be more yet to be discovered. So, even if this list may seem exhaustive, it may not be as varied as you think.

Fun Fact: Did you know that cockatiels, like lovebirds, don’t have different breeds? Instead, these variations we have detailed above are all color mutations or morphs.

19 Cockatiel Colors and Varieties

To understand how different colors and varieties of cockatiels vary, we need to examine them more closely. Below is a list of the different types of cockatiels, each with its own unique qualities.

1. Normal Grey Cockatiel

Normal grey cockatiel

Often referred to as the normal or grey cockatiel, the normal grey cockatiel is distinguished by its dark gray feathers. They also feature distinctive yellow or white markings on their wings and tails.

To be specific, after their first molt, female grey cockatiels typically exhibit yellow streaks on their heads, which contrast with their predominantly dark gray bodies.

Meanwhile, adult males often develop an entirely yellow head, which marks a distinct sexual dimorphism in this variety. This difference even becomes more pronounced as they mature.

Despite this, both male and female grey cockatiels share a characteristic feature: white barring on the sides of their wings. Their tails may also show white or yellow barring, adding to their visual appeal.

Fun Fact: Normal grey cockatiels are the root of all cockatiel color morphs. First discovered in the 1770s in Australia, they represent the original appearance of the species in the wild.

2. Whiteface Cockatiel

Whiteface cockatiel

Also called white-faced cockatiel, the whiteface cockatiel was first bred in 1964 in Holland. They hold the recognition of being the seventh cockatiel mutation discovered.

In terms of appearance, these birds are unique for their absence of the orange cheek patch and yellow feather pigmentation, characteristics common in grey cockatiels.

Male whiteface cockatiels develop completely white heads. In contrast, females often have entirely gray faces, making sex identification relatively straightforward in this variety.

While these avians are still among the rarest today, they were even more scarce in the past. This makes them highly sought after among cockatiel enthusiasts and breeders.

Fun Fact: An interesting aspect of cockatiels, including the whiteface variety, is their ability to form deep bonds, not just with their owners but also with cage mates, toys, or other objects in their environment.

Check out this cute video of a whiteface cockatiel playing basketball:

White Faced Cockatiel Plays Basketball || ViralHog

3. Blue Cockatiel

Blue cockatiel

Ranking as the second rarest after the white-faced cockatiel, the blue cockatiel presents a notable appearance. Contrary to their name, these birds don’t actually sport blue feathers.

Rather, their plumage is primarily white, with darker gray or black markings on their wings and a subtle grayish-blue tint on their tails.

These cockatiels also lack the orange cheek patches and yellow-colored heads typical of other mutations.

4. Emerald/Spangled/Olive Cockatiel

Emerald spangled olive cockatiel
Image credit: apple_dally_and_rambo / Instagram

Also known as the emerald or spangled cockatiel, the olive cockatiel emerged as the 13th color mutation in the 1980s. These birds are known for their greenish hue, a coloration that sets them apart in the cockatiel family.

However, note that the greenish tint in olive cockatiels is not due to actual green pigment, as cockatiels can only produce yellow, orange, and gray pigments.

Instead, it results from a dilute gene that reduces melanin levels, which allows the hidden yellow pigmentation to become more visible. This genetic alteration gives them their distinguishing color.

Besides their greenish tinge, emerald cockatiels have light gray bodies with a yellowish cast, which creates a subtle mustard-brown appearance.

5. Silver Cockatiel

Silver cockatiel
Image credit: neitokakadut_com / Instagram

The silver cockatiel is distinguished by its light, silvery-gray body color. Yet, note that the intensity of these birds’ feather coloration can vary, influenced by multiple genes affecting the gray pigmentation.

Basically, there are two main types of silver cockatiels based on genetic factors.

The first type is single-factor dominant silver cockatiels. They display darker metallic silver feathers alongside orange-tinted cheek patches, beaks, and feet.

In contrast, double-factor dominant silver cockatiels have lighter metallic silver feathers, showcasing a more pronounced silver hue.

On another note, both dominant and recessive silver mutations can be combined with other color mutations.

This blending results in varieties like pearl and white-faced cockatiels, which expands the range of visual appearances within this shade category.

6. Cinnamon Cockatiel

Cinnamon cockatiel

Sometimes referred to as Isabelle cockatiel, the cinnamon cockatiel is characterized by its cinnamon brown color, which gives it a unique, muted look.

This particular coloration results from a mutation that affects the melanin in their feathers, resulting in the soft brown shades that define this cockatiel morph.

Generally, male cinnamon cockatiels, after molting, develop a bright yellow face mask and vivid orange cheek patches. In contrast, females have more subdued cheek patches and lack the yellow facial coloration.

I once had a pet cinnamon cockatiel named Coco. Her soft brown feathers made her look almost like a stuffed animal.

Behavior-wise, I remember Coco as a very intelligent bird — she learned how to speak many words and phrases. She also even recognized her name and would excitedly chirp when I entered the room.

So, even though Coco lacked the bright pigments of some cockatiels, her personality made up for it!

7. Albino Cockatiel

Albino cockatiel

More accurately termed as the white-faced Lutino cockatiel, the albino cockatiel is a result of mixing the Lutino and white-faced mutations. These birds are recognized for their pure white plumage and striking red eyes.

Female albino cockatiels can be distinguished from males by the barring visible on the underside of their wings. This gender-specific trait adds another layer of interest to this already fascinating variety.

Fun Fact: There are no true albino cockatiels. This is because the albino mutation, which is characterized by a complete lack of pigment, doesn’t naturally occur in this species.

8. Pearl Cockatiel

Pearl cockatiel
Image credit: tiki_torch_cockatiel / Instagram

First bred in 1970, the pearl cockatiel is known for its distinctive scalloped pattern. This pattern features white spots, resembling pearls, on their body, wings, and head, giving rise to their name.

They also boast bright orange cheek patches and often have a light yellow coloring on their faces.

However, this mutation is particularly fascinating due to the differences in how males and females retain these pearl markings.

Specifically, male pearl cockatiels lose these spots after their first molting phase. Meanwhile, females retain their pearl-like spots throughout their lives.

9. Lutino Cockatiel

Lutino cockatiel

Recognized by avian enthusiasts since 1958, the Lutino cockatiel is famous for its striking color scheme. As a matter of fact, these birds showcase only orange and yellow pigmentation.

Plus, their red eyes create a stark contrast against their predominantly white-feathered bodies, making them even more visually distinctive.

A unique trait of Lutino cockatiels, though, is the occurrence of balding behind their crest.

This feature was first noticed with the emergence of the mutation and has since become a typical attribute through years of breeding.

Fun Fact: Lutino cockatiels, like their differently colored peers, exhibit varying behaviors based on their sex. Males are known for their singing and display of joy, often vocalizing in various situations. Contrastingly, females tend to be quieter.

10. Pied Cockatiel

Pied cockatiel

In 1951, the first mutation of a grey cockatiel, namely the pied cockatiel, appeared in the United States.

This morph is a result of a recessive gene causing pied patches on areas lacking melanin, typically noticeable on the affected birds’ napes and wing feathers.

Pied cockatiels are also characterized by darker eyes and lighter legs compared to their normal grey counterparts. Some even exhibit a dark talon or toe, which adds to their distinctive physical traits.

Fun Fact: Did you know that no pied cockatiels will look exactly the same? This aspect makes each pied bird unique, with a one-of-a-kind pattern that cannot be replicated.

11. Yellowface/Heavy Pied Cockatiel

Yellowface heavy pied cockatiel
Image credit: az_cockatiels / Instagram

The yellowface or heavy pied cockatiel is notable for its extensive white or yellow areas, which significantly overshadow the normal gray body color.

When it comes to temperament, it has been noted that these birds tend to be more social than other cockatiels and are often more prone to learning tricks.

I also recently adopted a yellowface cockatiel named Sunny from a local bird rescue. With his bright yellow head and predominately white body feathers, he immediately reminded me of a tiny sun.

I soon discovered his character matched his vibrant look; Sunny was very sociable and eager to befriend me and my other birds.

He also picked up new vocalizations quickly and readily learned simple tricks when motivated by praise and treats. Further, Sunny brought cheerful energy to my aviary with his bouncy movements.

12. Fallow Cockatiel

Fallow cockatiel
Image credit: my_dream_parrots / Instagram

A mutation developed in 1971, the fallow cockatiel is a recent addition to cockatiel varieties. Often confused with silver cockatiels, these birds are distinguished by their muted cinnamon color with a yellowish-brown tinge.

Other notable features of fallow cockatiels include red-tinted eyes and pinkish-beige legs and beaks.

Prospective owners should know that the fallow variety has a history of inbreeding, which means these birds may have higher rates of genetic issues like vision problems.

13. Clear Pied Cockatiel

Clear pied cockatiel
Image credit: miniaussieflock / Instagram

The clear pied cockatiel is a less familiar pied mutation, distinct in its appearance. To be specific, these birds are characterized by a lack or near absence of dark feathers on the face and chest.

Moreover, clear pied cockatiels have normal-colored eyes, not red, unlike some pied morphs. These birds are also famous for their high extent of yellow coloration. 

14. Cinnamon Pearl Cockatiel

Cinnamon pearl cockatiel

A charming variation of the cinnamon cockatiel, the cinnamon pearl cockatiel features pearled cinnamon feathers with yellow outer edges. 

In adult males, cinnamon pearl cockatiels display a bright yellow face with orange cheeks. On the flip side, females usually have lighter orange cheeks and white faces.

Fun Fact: A notable trait of cinnamon pearl cockatiels is their shift from chick to adult. Initially, they start as yellow chicks, gradually developing into their distinctive cinnamon-tinged brown coloration as they age.

15. Lutino Pearl/Lacewing Cockatiel

Lutino pearl lacewing cockatiel
Image credit: postmod9999 / Instagram

Also known as the lacewing cockatiel, the Lutino pearl cockatiel is a favored Lutino variation.

These birds are famous for their unique feather pattern, which showcases darker yellow pearling against a backdrop of white, light gray, and dark gray plumage.

Basically, this mix of colors gives Lutino pearl cockatiels a distinctive and attractive appearance.

16. Cinnamon Pied Cockatiel

Cinnamon pied cockatiel

A less common variation within the cinnamon category, the cinnamon pied cockatiel emerges from crossing pied cockatiels with cinnamon ones. These birds exhibit a beautiful blend of cinnamon and yellow hues.

Further, the markings on these cockatiels vary significantly from one bird to another, which in turn ensures that each individual is distinguishable and unique.

17. Lutino Pied Cockatiel

Lutino pied cockatiel
Image credit: py_birds_sale_tn / Instagram

A variant less popular than the typical pied, the Lutino pied cockatiel is distinguished by its darker yellow and gray patches.

A noteworthy attribute of Lutino pied cockatiels and their differently colored counterparts is their fondness for mirrors. So, make sure to incorporate one into your bird’s cage.

18. Pearl Pied Cockatiel

Pearl pied cockatiel
Image credit: michi915 / Instagram

Up next is the pearl pied cockatiel. These birds resemble the regular pied mutation but with a unique twist. Their wings are adorned with pearled patterns.

This pearling adds an extra layer of beauty to their appearance. Additionally, the head of pearl pied cockatiels can be white or yellow, while their body feathers are predominantly white.

19. Cinnamon Pearl Pied Cockatiel

Cinnamon pearl pied cockatiel
Image credit: sunday_thecockatiel / Instagram

The cinnamon pearl pied cockatiel is a result of a sex-linked recessive mutation. They are a combination of traits of both the cinnamon pied and cinnamon pearl varieties.

This unique mix results in a striking appearance characterized by a blend of gray, yellow, orange, and white feathers, which are accentuated with pearl patterns.

What Is Color Mutation in Cockatiels?

Color mutations in cockatiels emerged due to specialized breeding practices. Basically, these morphs occur when genes responsible for pigmentation are altered or muted, leading to a variety of colors.

To be specific, there are three main types of mutations observed in cockatiels: sex-linked, recessive, and dominant.

The first type — sex-linked morphs — is influenced by the bird’s gender. In particular, the color can be expressed only by females or carried by males without expression.

Notable sex-linked mutations include pearl, cinnamon, Lutino, and yellow-faced cockatiels.

Recessive mutations form the second category. In order for these mutations to be visible in offspring, both parent cockatiels must carry the gene. This type includes morphs like pied, whiteface, fallow, and silver.

Finally, dominant mutations are the third type, where only one parent needs to carry the gene for the trait to appear in the chicks.

Frequently Asked Questions

Two cockatiels with varying colors

What Is the Rarest Cockatiel Color?

The rarest color mutation in cockatiels is the whiteface variety. These distinctive birds lack the typical orange cheek patches found in almost all other cockatiel colorations.

What Is the Cheapest Cockatiel Color?

The most affordable cockatiel color is the normal or grey, owing to its common occurrence. These birds are typically priced between $60 and $150 in pet stores, which makes them accessible to many enthusiasts. 

Additionally, normal/grey cockatiels can often be adopted from aviary rescues for a reasonable fee. This allows you to own a bird of this color without having to pay full price.

What Is the Most Expensive Cockatiel Color?

The whiteface variety stands as the most expensive cockatiel color due to its rarity. These lovely birds command price tags ranging from $200 to $600 each.

So, did any of these cockatiels catch your eye? Do you have any questions about their unique features? Let us know what you think about these different types of cockatiels by dropping a comment below!

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