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What Is a Cinnamon Cockatiel?

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  • Written By: Angie Bates
  • Edited By: John Allen
  • Last Modified Date: 23 November 2016
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Sometimes called an Isabelle cockatiel, a cinnamon cockatiel is type of small exotic bird similar in appearance to the much larger cockatoo. The term "cinnamon" refers to a color morph which produces brown coloring instead of the typical dark gray of the usual cockatiel. This color morph also produces differing color patterns in the male's facial feathers as well. Cinnamon cockatiels, and cockatiels in general, are historically among the most popular pet birds.

The most common color morph, the cinnamon cockatiel may appear light gray or various shades of light to medium brown. Normally their wings and tails are darkest, with the lower bellies and backs fading to nearly white. Usually cockatiels also have an uneven white band on the outside edge of each upper wing. Male cinnamons have more yellow on their faces and the orange patches on their checks are generally more vibrant than the typical gray cockatiel.

The mutation that creates the cinnamon cockatiel coloring is termed sex-linked recessive. Although females need only one of the mutated genes, making the cinnamon morph dominate in females, males need a gene from each parent to exhibit the color change, making it recessive in males. Since cockatiels are mildly sexually dimorphic, the females do look slightly different than the males. Mainly, the yellow and orange coloring of their faces is markedly duller.

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Unlike some color mutations which stop the amount of melanin being produced, the cinnamon morph does not effect the quantity of melanin, but rather stops it from turning gray. The cinnamon morph may be combined with another color morph, such as pied, to create a variation in color patterns as well. The vibrancy of the color seen in a cinnamon cockatiel not only depends on its genes, but also on the bird's health, as well as its age and molting schedule.

Cockatiels are native to Australia and are part of the cockatoo family. Like cockatoos they have a mobile crest of feathers on the top of their heads. A relaxed bird will have a partially erected crest, whereas an excited bird will have a fully erect crest. Stressed or frightened cockatiels will press their crests flat against their heads, similar to a dog or cat laying its ears back.

Normally, an adult cinnamon cockatiel is about 12 inches (30 cm) long. These birds are very social and relatively quiet, so they are often thought to make good pets. Unlike large parrots, they do not tend to talk. The normal life span for these birds is 15–20 years.

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