Cockatiel Behavior – All You Need to Know

Known as one of the most common domestic birds, the Cockatiel is extremely intelligent and affectionate.

This makes them an excellent choice for a pet.

When deciding on raising a cockatiel, you must understand their behavior.

Understanding the birds plays a huge role in being able to take care of them appropriately.

We have made this guide to help you better understand your Cockatiel, so let’s get to it.

Understanding the Cockatiel Character

Native to Australia, the Cockatiel birds originally belong to the Cockatoo family. However, due to wide domestication, they are pretty much found all over the world.

They are the smallest birds in the Cockatoo family and are yellow-gray-ish in color with orange cheeks.

The Cockatiel is generally a very affectionate bird if cared for properly – they are also very social and intelligent, as previously mentioned.

However, this means that it requires lots of attention and company.

They do not do well locked up in a cage because that could make them feel lonely and sad. This is why it is widely recommended to keep them as pairs.

Having a companion is bound to make Cockatiels feel better.

Moreover, the Cockatiel builds very strong bonds with its companion. So, it is likely that it will follow you wherever you go.

Not only are they loving, but they can also be a little nosy because of their curious nature. They love to play around, inspect things, and love to interact.

How Does a Cockatiel Communicate?

To be able to understand your Cockatiel effectively, you must know what their state is and what they are trying to tell you.

Here are a few expressions to look out for:

Hanging Downwards

If your Cockatiel is hanging upside down with spread-out wings and feathers.

This usually means that they are feeling hot and would either like a bath or a slight spray of water to cool down.

However, if your bird has laid eggs and is in the incubation or nesting period, this could also be a sign of territorial protection and a warning for you not to go any closer.

Grinding Beak

When your Cockatiel is grinding its beak, it most probably indicates that it is ready to sleep, preparing to roost, or just feeling relaxed.

They also tend to do this to get rid of any excess tissue build-up on their upper and lower mandibles.

You can provide your Cockatiel with multiple chew toys preferably made from clean tree branches – this will keep them from grinding on their beak.

Erect Crest

A high and erect crest usually indicates that your Cockatiel is in a good mood and is happy. Your burd may also additionally flap its wings.

Or they could swing as they cling to their bars, preparing to take flight – this could, however, also be a part of their mating ritual.

However, if their crest is raised high, it could also mean that the bird is uncomfortable or scared of something in the surroundings.

Nibbling or Biting

If you notice your Cockatiel biting you or nibbling, this could be mean that they are annoyed and do not want to be touched.

It is best to leave them alone for a little while if you experience such behavior to give them the time to calm themselves down.

Moreover, Cockatiels may also exhibit anger by flattening their crests against their heads.

You can try calming them down by speaking softly and maintaining a safe distance to indicate you are not a threat.

Screeching or Screaming

Your Cockatiel screaming or screeching is not normal behavior, and they could be trying to tell you something.

Cockatiels typically begin to scream when uncomfortable or scared. This could be due to a sudden change in the environment or too much noise.

It can also indicate that your bird is not getting enough sleep since Cockatiel sleeps for 10-12 hours on average.

Bobbing Head Up and Down

If you have a baby Cockatiel or a fairly young one, then you may notice them bobbing their heads in an upwards and downwards motion while making a loud sound.

If you have ever come across this, that is their way of letting you know that they are hungry.

Normally, the parents feed the young while they are still dependent; however, if a parent bird is not present, this is your signal to feed the babies.

Also read: Parakeets Bob Their Heads — What It Means?

Long Yawns

You may sometimes see your Cockatiel opening its beak wide like an exaggerated yawn. While this may seem silly, sometimes it can be alarming.

Normally, a Cockatiel opens its beak wide if it is trying to unblock its ears, breathe in more oxygen, or just simply trying to clear its throat.

However, in some cases, if you see them yawning for a long while also bobbing their heads, it could be a possible indication of a sinus infection.

You will have to observe your bird closely, and if it looks alarming, please consult a vet.

Touching You

Cockatiels are highly affectionate birds.

If you notice your Cockatiel touching you repeatedly or resting their head on your hands, it could be a way of them asking for affection.

Cockatiels are very intelligent, and they quickly pick up the fact that pets and kisses are a form of love and affection.

So, if they ever want you to pet them or want affection – they will most likely be constantly resting their heads on your hand or touching you to gain your attention.

Hitting or Throwing Things

If you ever come across your Cockatiel hitting or throwing objects, it may want attention.

When your bird is hitting objects, it could be asking you to listen to what they are trying to say.

They do so by hitting objects with their beak in an attempt to grab your attention. Moreover, some males may also do this to announce that this is his territory.

However, if your Cockatiel is throwing objects, it could mean that it is frustrating or boring.

This is why it is recommended not to keep them locked up in cages at all times.

How to Identify Your Cockatiel is Stressed?

It is essential to know when your Cockatiel is stressed and not feeling okay.

Constant stress can lead to serious issues with their health in the future.

Here are some common traits of stress in Cockatiels that you must keep an eye out for:

  • They may bite you or anyone who goes near them.
  • When stressed, Cockatiels tend to pluck off their feathers.
  • They may become extremely loud and scream all the time.
  • Or they may begin pacing aimlessly.

If you notice any of the behaviors mentioned above, you must identify what is making your Cockatiel stressed.

This could be because they are lonely and need a companion. Experts recommend you always get Cockatiels as pairs so they can keep each other company.

Moreover, it could be because of a drastic change in their environment.

To eliminate any chances of stress, you need to make sure your bird is getting enough playtime and exercise outside of the cage.

Cockatiels are highly social birds. They do not like to be left alone to fend for themselves.

However, if the behavior stills persist and do not seem okay, we recommend that you consult a vet.

Unusual Behavior in Cockatiels

As we have already covered, Cockatiels are highly active, affectionate, and social birds. There are certain behaviors that your bird could be showing that are not normal.

Notice any strange behavior with your Cockatiels. This includes inactivity, lethargy, sudden loss of appetite, or if they stop grooming themselves.

These signs could be a serious issue, and your bird could be indicating certain health risks.

It is best that in such cases, where your bird is displaying behavior that is not part of their normal routine or indicating that it may be unwell, you take it to a professional as soon as possible.

Never hesitate to consult a professional. Make sure to observe your birds closely. If there is ever any unusual or abnormal behavior from their end, you must go to a vet at the earliest.

This way, your vet will quickly decipher what the problem is and propose a cure before it gets too late.

The Bottom Line

In conclusion, we would like to say if you are interested in getting a Cockatiel or already have one and want to learn how to understand it better, then we have already got you covered.

Cockatiels are great birds to have as pets; however, great responsibility comes with every other pet.

Before taking up this commitment, you must be ready to devote your time and affection to these precious birds fully. While they may look like an easy investment – they require lots of care.

We hope this article helped you in understanding your Cockatiel’s behavior better.

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