Do Cockatiels Need A Heat Lamp

Cockatiels are a species of parrot that is original from Australia. If you are not familiar with the continent of Australia, know this, it is vast. The climate is typically warm and desert-like for most of it, which gives you an idea of the type of warmth cockatiels are used to experiencing. Maybe you live somewhere cold and are wondering, do cockatiels need a heat lamp?

The answer is different for babies and full-grown cockatiels. 

If you can provide warmth for your adult cockatiel in other ways, you will be much better off than getting a heat lamp. You can use a specifically made light to heat a birdcage, but some bird lovers have said this isn’t safe for their eyes or skin.

Your goal may be to breed chicks and ween them off their parents early, requiring lamps to maintain a steady temperature. Baby birds are fragile and have dramatic reactions to drastic changes in temperature. Sudden changes can result in death.

When keeping your chicks in a brooder, you will likely use lamps to maintain an internal temperature of 99.5˚F. It shouldn’t drop below 86˚F while they are developing. Once they begin to mature, you can gradually decrease the heat as they grow older. 

Best temperature

Since these birds are used to being in warmer climates, their environment must reflect their natural habitat as much as possible. Luckily for humans, adult cockatiels are safest when the temperature is between 65˚F and 80˚F, which most of us prefer to keep in our homes. 

When it comes to climate in a home, it’s essential to keep your bird’s cage off the floor because heat rises, and they need to be kept warm. This need for heat is why we began discussing lamps in the first place. 

Another environmental need your cockatiel has is to be kept in a well-lit area free from cold drafts. I live in a geographical location that experiences all four seasons, and there is no way we would keep our bird next to an open window in the dead of the winters. 

Cockatiels are small and temperature-sensitive. Their internal structures are not equipped for anything below 65˚F as a constant, risking it a bit. Anything below could prove to be deadly since birds can suffer hypothermia like any other animal in the world. 

Extreme heat isn’t a great idea either, so be sure you keep your cockatiel clear of hot coffee, teas, or a hot bath. It’s OK to put them on a perch in the bathroom when you shower, and they love the steam. But keep them at a safe distance from the hot spray of water.  

How long

If you are breeding chicks, you will want to keep the lamps on as long as necessary to maintain that temperature of 99.5˚F. If the lights are the only heat source, you may want to keep them on as the chicks mature, but we must point out some breeders have warned about keeping chicks directly under lamps. 

We suggest you speak to an experienced breeder before you jump into raising baby cockatiels. Baby birds are some of the most delicate and defenseless creatures on Earth, so you want to make sure you do it correctly the first time, so no innocent lives are lost. 


Like everything else, there are different approaches to feeding both baby and adult cockatiels. Adults should be consuming anywhere from 1.5 to 2 tablespoons of pellets, seeds, or a mixture each day. There are plenty of fresh foods you can include and others you should avoid. We listed them below so you can give your bird a healthy variety. 

It’s important to remember that any foods that you give your bird other than pellets or seed should only consist of 20% of their diet every other day. Some people feel that all grain and natural foods are the way to go with cockatiels, while other bird owners swear by the pellets because they have all the vitamins and nutrients your pet needs every day. 

Baby cockatiels are a different situation altogether. Chicks will ween off their parents naturally by the tenth week of hatching. There are other schools of thought when it comes to weening chicks before that time. Some say babies that are hand-fed earlier by humans will be easier to tame, while others believe a baby should stay with the parents as long as possible. 

Which approach you take will be a personal choice, but there are always risks to weening them early. As we mentioned, baby cockatiels are fragile, but they can be weened early. Here is a feeding guide to help you get an idea of the correct way to ween a baby cockatiel. 

  • Hatched to 10 – 15 hours old: Do not feed your chick anything during this period. When you reach the fifteen-hour mark, you can provide your baby one drop of lukewarm water. 
  • One hour old: One drop of lukewarm water mixed with the ground, pure white cuttlebone, and pure yogurt. Repeat this step in another hour. 
  • Past 3 hours old: Give your baby a few drops of a hand-rearing diet every hour.
  • 4 – 9 days old: Give commercial, hand-rearing formula every two hours. You don’t have to feed them between midnight and 5:00 am. 
  • 10 – 14 days old: Hand-rearing formula every three hours. No need to do it between midnight and 5:00 am. 
  • 15 – 20 days old: Hand-rearing formula every four hours. It should be thicker too. You can also give them a small bowl of water. 
  • 21 – 25 days old: Feed the formula to them two to three times daily, and be sure it is thicker than when you fed them at four days old. At this stage, you can begin to give them soaked seeds or millet blended with formula. At this stage, they will learn to find their food. 

As you can see, feeding a chick is quite intensive and take a great deal of time. But there are times when it is unavoidable as well. 

When The Heat Lamp Is No Longer Needed

Adult cockatiels can be kept warm enough without heat lamps in your home unless you keep it under 60˚F, which is highly unlikely. If you do like it that cold and have a cockatiel, we suggest not using a lamp as the primary heat source and adjusting the room’s temperature instead. Drastic temperature changes are dangerous for cockatiels of all ages. 

You can likely stop using the heat lamp to warm the brooder once the chicks have matured. Remember to lower the heat slowly. Sudden changes can be deadly for chicks. 

Other Ways To Keep Them Warm

Lamps should be a last resort for an adult cockatiel. There are plenty of other ways to keep them warm. Cover their cage at night, but never fully, so they have ample air supply. Use an air humidifier in the winter when the air gets dry. An excellent alternative to heat lamps is space heaters for that area of the room, and you won’t risk hurting their eyes and skin. 

Signs They Are Doing OK

Adult cockatiels will have healthy feathers, enjoy time with their owners, usually eat, and sleep well when they are doing okay. Babies that are growing up strong will change from a small pink thing with closed eyes to a fully feathered young adult in ten weeks. 

If you don’t have experience raising chicks, we recommend you do a great deal of research on the topic before trying. You can become a breeder as well, but try to learn from one who has been doing it for a while first. 

You may be a person who suddenly found yourself in possession of a parentless cockatiel chick. If that’s the case, you may want to find a vet or breeder near you that can help. 

Rick Matthews

Hello, I am Rick Matthews, I have helped raise 100's of pets in my life living with my Father who while we did not live on a farm, raised all sorts of animals to sell them to families. We had so many different pets we all quickly became experts intending to them and helping them stay healthy. Back then we did not have the internet to look up thing on how to take care of their kids. As my kids got older, they wanted pets and of course, I did not want to have as many as we did when I was a child, but wanted to share my experiences. Many of these articles are written to help educate families on what to expect when looking to get a new pet for their children.

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