Complete Cockatiel Bird Language And Behavior Guide

Cockatiel language and behavior can be very complex but with knowledge of some general cockatiel traits and what they mean, you will be able to learn more about your cockatiel. We’ll start with the language of the cockatiel crest. The cage your bird is in plays a extremely big part on your it’s overall language and behavior.

Cockatiels are unique in that, unlike other small cockatiels, they have a crest that can give us clear insight into what’s going on inside the cockatiel’s head. The positions of the crest vary from laying flat on the head to sticking straight up in the air.

1. A flat, angry crest. When your cockatiel crest lays flat on the head, it is usually a sign of hostility and often most often when you get to close to your birds cockatiel cage while eating. Of course, even sweet, tame cockatiels like my baby cockatiel Toby (male cockatiel, a little over 6 months old) has moments where the crest will flatten and the inner demon will emerge | it’s totally natural for babies and adults!
2. A relaxed crest at “half mast.” This is a regular crest position for the usual content cockatiel.
3. A relaxed, yet alert crest position. This is a common position for an inquisitive cockatiel.
4. A completely raised crest. Bright red alert! This is a common position for when a cockatiel is startled or otherwise on guard. This often happens when a cockatiel hears a “bump in the night,” or when he hears the voice of another cockatiel that he can’t see. It’s an all-purpose “alert” crest.

The “Rapidfire Bite” Technique:
If your your cockatiel gets little bunchy eyebrows or a flat crest and then starts quickly biting your finger (or as I like to say, playing your finger like a harmonica), he might be a tad miffed at you. Don’t take it personally. It happens with even the best cockatiels.

Skinny Cockatiel:
If your cockatiel suddenly gets very small and “skinny,” it could mean that he has been startled or is scared. It often looks like the cockatiel crops sucked in, and all the feathers lie flat on the body. This is often accompanied by a “red alert” crest.

The Head Bob:
A cockatiel who is bobbing his head often while in it’s bird cage might be trying to tell you a variety of things. In a young or unweaned bird… it is often a sign of hunger. Your cockatiel may be begging for food. In an older cockatiel, it could be a way of showing off or trying to get some attention.

Heart-Shaped Wings:
Also known as “the big chest.” This is when a cockatiel holds his wings slightly away from his sides with his chest sticking out. From the back, the shape of the wings resembles a heart. This is a male cockatiel behavior 90% of the time and is just your cockatiels body language showing off because he likes you. A big chest is a great tool when flirting with cockatiels as a big ripped chest is a great tool with humans and ladies. You should understand how smart your bird is and how much they pick up daily from you, their owner so do not neglect these signs.

The Bowed Head:
If your cockatiel lowers his head and leaves it there, it is most likely an invitation for you to pet his head. This is very cute! A more demanding cockatiel might beak bang a few times before leaving his head stationary if you don’t respond to his demands in a timely fashion.

Ready for Take-Off:

Often, a cockatiel will stoop down low and hold his wings out, still folded, at his sides while fidgeting or moving back and forth. It may look like he is about to take off flying. If your cockatiel’s wings are clipped, then it may mean that he would like to fly somewhere (often toward you) but isn’t confident enough to take off. A flighted cockatiel may also choose to do this if he thinks that you will come and pick him up; it saves him the trouble of actually flying over to you if possible.

Bat Cockatiel:
When given a new cockatiel cage or play gym, when sitting on a tall object, or when near a nesting site, a cockatiel may hold his wings out all the way, often swishing slightly backward and forward. Sometimes, a cockatiel may adopt the same wing position while leaning far forward, sometimes even upside down. This is a sign of “property ownership.” Your cockatiel is saying “This is mine!”

A cockatiel and most birds may often hammer his beak on a hard object, or on you. It almost looks like a pecking motion. This is beak-banging, and it’s a common behavior for male cockatiels. Like other make cockatiel body language, it is a gesture of property ownership. Your cockatiel may be saying “Whatever I’m hammering on is mine!” However, while the Bat Cockatiel is seen in both male and female cockatiel birds, beak banging on your own birds cockatiel cages is a predominantly male behavior once again but females can do it also. There is no known traits that only a male or female can do or shows besides females laying eggs. A male bird or cockatiel can lay eggs but that’s a whole other story and topic lol.

The “Back and Forth” Cockatiel:
Also known as “pacing.” Sometimes, especially when in bird cages, you may see him or her eagerly walking back and forth very quickly, taking only one or two steps to each side while always facing forward. Sometimes he may chirp repeatedly while doing this. Your cockatiels behavior is begging (rather, nagging, begging – whatever you would like to call it) to be let out of his bird cage. The speed of back-and-forth motion often increases exponentially when people are eating in his field of vision.

Beak-Assisted Climbing:
When your cockatiel is climbing onto your finger, he may first grab on with his beak before stepping all the way on. This is normal. He is testing the stability of your finger. This is also often used by cockatiels as a balancing aid.

Beak Grinding:
Usually it is the sound of this motion and not the visual that first attracts our attention. Your cockatiel may grind his upper and lower mandible together, producing a scratchy or “zippy” noise. Your cockatiel is probably content and relaxed, and he might be getting ready for a nap.

In Your Face:
If your cockatiel jumps onto your chest, runs up to your face, and maybe even sticks his beak against your face, he is inviting you to join him in a cuddling session! Take advantage of the opportunity! This move is demonstrated in the video “In Your Face.”

The Head Tilt:
If your cockatiel turns his head sideways and then tilts it up or down, he may be looking at something either above or below him. Because of the positioning of a cockatiel’s eyes, this is the easiest way for them to view certain areas. If you can’t tell what your cockatiel is looking at, it’s possible that he’s staring at his own fluff floating in the air. This head motion may also be done when your cockatiel is listening intently to a sound.

Tail Wagging:
Ever petted your female cockatiel on the back or by the tail and had her “wag her tail” in response? Well, stop it, because you’re turning her on, and she might start to lay eggs!

The Happy Cockatiel Dance:
If your cockatiel gets on top of an object (or backs into an object) and starts rubbing his/her butt back and forth on it, often chirping at the same time, be polite and avert your eyes. Congratulations! Your cockatiel is masturbating hehe. Many cockatiels chirp while doing this.

Backward Head:
If your cockatiel turns his head backward, closes his eyes, and buries his beak in between his feathers, he is all ready to go to sleep. You can also expect him to stand balanced on one foot while doing this.

One Eye Closed, One Eye Opened:
Sometimes, when cuddling with your feathery friend, you might find that he has one eye closed and one eye opened. Most often, it will be the eye facing you that is closed, and the eye facing the rest of the room that is opened. Your cockatiel is relaxed and content, but still alert enough to want to keep a look out.

Your cockatiel may occasionally puff out all his feathers, often accompanied by a brief dog-like shake. Your cockatiel is just fixing up his feathers. This is often done during preening. However, if your cockatiel remains puffed for long periods of time (and might also sit at the bottom of the cage), he might very well be sick, and he should be taken to a veterinarian as soon as possible.

Repeated Yawning:
Often after preening, a cockatiel may yawn over and over again. It could be that he’s readjusting his crop or that he’s gotten a bit of down stuck in his throat. Either way, it’s normal. They also yawn when they are tired or after waking up from a nap.

The Head Shake:
You may occasionally see your cockatiel rapidly shaking his head for a moment. if done while eating, it could mean that the food has a surprising taste, temperature, or moisture level. If done when listening to a sound, it could mean that it’s a tad too loud or sharp or high-pitched, or just that it’s an interesting sound.

The “Roll Head Magic Trick”:
While preening, you may see your cockatiel wiping or rolling his head on his lower back, or occasionally inside his wing. If you own or owned a cockatiel, I’m sure you even saw the 180-degree head twist which looks like a trick right out of the old magic book. You’ll If you feel the lower back area, you will find that it is very powdery. A cockatiel performing the “Roll Head” is simply distributing all these oils and powders to the feathers on his head… almost like human hair conditioner.

THE FAMOUS COCKATIEL Bathroom Time Stance:
If your cockatiel stoops down low and gets slightly puffy, it could mean that he is about to go to the bathroom. Hurry and get a napkin because BOMBS AWAY! Once you recognize this famous poop stance, it will become much easier to prevent accidents on yourself, the floor and even train your cockatiel to go to the bathroom on command or in certain areas only (such as his cage or playstand only).

Bath Time Puffiness:
While taking a shower or bath, or while getting misted, a cockatiel might become extremely puffy, raise both his wings up away from his side, lean forward, and sway all around. This means that he is enjoying his bath!

Shower Time Trance:
When in the shower, your cockatiel might close his eyes and zone out for awhile, as if he is sleeping. Again, this is a sign that he is enjoying his shower.

Nose Picker:
Occasionally, your cockatiel might stick his toenail up his nose and then sneeze. What an undignified cockatiel! Nah, he’s just attempting to clear out his nasal passages. It’s perfectly normal so don’t be alarmed.

Puffy Face:
While listening to a sound, your cockatiel’s face and/or cheek patches may become slightly puffy. This is often a sign that he likes what he’s hearing, or that he is interested in the sound. Toby often gets puffy cheeks while listening to sounds that he later ends up repeating.

Strrreeeetcchhh (haha I like to emphasize the term stretch):
If your cockatiel raises both his wings above his back, usually leaving them folded, he is stretching.

Superman Ice Skater:
Your cockatiel may extend one foot and one wing behind him, often while fanning his tail. This is another way for your cockatiel to stretch.

If you have multiple cockatiels, it is possible that you will observe mating. If you have a male and female, this could of course lead to breeding which is not appropriate for everyone. It is also possible to observe mounting if you have a same sex pair since it is far from uncommon for cockatiels to bond to one another regardless of sex. Mating will not always lead to eggs (young females, older females might have a harder time to conceive an egg and obviously a same sex male pair won’t have eggs – ever!).

It is quite frequent for cockatiels to develop crushes on other animals (i.e another cockatiel) or even on other people. Usually, you’ll notice that your cockatiel is acting hormonal around that person (ie protective, displaying, singing etc.). The cockatiel might even try to mate with the chosen object of desire. The male will rub his vent on the object whereas the female will lift her tail and kind of arch her head back and make faint whistling sounds. Crushes might go away or persist, it usually won’t persist if the object of desire is removed. If your cockatiel develops a crush on someone else than you, even if you are the primary care taker, don’t take it as a sign that your cockatiel doesn’t love you… he just doesn’t love you “that” way!

Flock Calling:
In the wild, most cockatiels live in large groups called a flock. In captivity, you and your family are your cockatiels flock, which is why it is important to frequently interact with your cockatiels as you are his social group. In the wild, cockatiels of a same group are not always within sight of each other so they will call to each other to keep track of each others positions. Think of it as a way to verify that all your family is safe and sound. The bird calling usually consist in a high pitched whistle repeated until the caller is satisfied that all of his flock has answered. You can answer your cockatiel by whistling back so he knows that you are there, safe and by extension so is he. If you have multiple cockatiels, they will call to each other in the morning to verify that everyone got through the night alright, they will also call to each other if they are in separated rooms. Be careful, however, as there is a difference between flock bird calling and a behavioral screaming for attention problem. A cockatiel whose flock answers will stop calling after a few whistles, faster if you answer the cockatiel | An attention screamer will just go on screaming for ever until you show up in the room and care for them.

Think of a cat hiss when it’s scared or unhappy, the same applies to cockatiels. If your cockatiel doesn’t want to come out of the cage, doesn’t want to be petted, doesn’t want anything to do with that new $15 toy you put in his cage chances are he’ll let you know by either hissing at you or at the object that is causing him to be scared or mad. If you have multiple cockatiels, they can also keep each other at bay by hissing at one another – this is a simple “don’t get in my personal space!” message to other birds. It’s a mean of intimidation for the cockatiels and they usually fluff up their feathers, open their wings in order to pretend to be bigger and stronger than they really are to scare the potential threat away.

This is not to be confused with vomiting which is actually a sign of illness. Regurgitating is the act where the cockatiel empties the food from his crop onto someone, another cockatiel or a toy which they are bonded with. Parents also regurgitate food into their babies crop in order to feed them. If your cockatiel regurgitate on you it is a sign that he is very much bonded to you and he’s trying to feed you. Sadly, cockatiels do not comprehend that we might not want to eat their gift.

Acting out Fear and Aggressions:
Cockatiels who have been abused in the past, either by a mate or an owner can act out fear and aggressions on their toys or new feathery friends. This rarely happens in baby cockatiels gotten from breeders or reputable stores, but if you got your cockatiel from a rescue or from someone out of the classifieds it’s possible to observe this behavior. Keep in mind that not all rescue and classified cockatiels were abused, but there’s more chances of a shady past. If you notice that your cockatiel is aggressive toward other cockatiels it will be important to cage him/her alone, it will help reduce the stress for all your cockatiels and yourself. Time, patience and love will be required to work through this and eventually your cockatiel will feel more confident and safe around you and will settle down.

Congratulations on making it to the end and you can now say you’ve completed the cockatiel bird crash course on body language and behavior, hehe. I hope you all enjoyed it and that it was able to answer any questions you may of had about your loving pet! Please comment or send me any stories or information on your cockatiel if you have anything else to add. I enjoy pictures and am always interested in story’s that are bird related.

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Complete Cockatiel Bird Language And Behavior Guide, 9.4 out of 10 based on 142 ratings

133 Responses

  1. Cari on September 3rd, 2009 2:49 pm

    I love the story about your cockatiels and find it so heart warming that you took the abused cockatiels in to bring them back to health. I would reallly like if you could post pictures up of your cockatiels as they sound so cute. Thank you for your kind heart.

  2. Patricia on September 3rd, 2009 8:24 pm

    How about the claws? do they use one of them to hold an object or piece of food like bigger parrots? allways?

  3. Dr. Cockatiel on September 4th, 2009 10:16 am

    Cockatiels like most birds will hold food with one hand and eat with the other when it’s something they have to work to get to, for example a sunflower seed for cockatiels and a parrot usually will hold fruit to nibble on or a peanut. There is nothing wrong with a bird which does this and it’s common with all birds while eating. If you did not know, when cockatiels go to sleep, they will climb to the highest perch and sleep with 1 foot up in the air… why, I do not know but it does cause them to get scarred sometimes at night and fall and that’s why I always leave a nightlight next to all my cockatiel cages.

  4. Rogie on September 23rd, 2009 12:34 am

    Thanks for posting this, a very good article. A cheat sheet on tiels behaviors.

  5. Dr. Cockatiel on September 25th, 2009 7:58 am

    Thank you very much. Yes, you could also call it a cheat sheet :) . Hope it was a help.

  6. Dr. Cockatiel on October 7th, 2009 5:24 am

    Thank you, I’ve always felt bad for abused animals and since cockatiels and birds are my specialty and love… I knew they needed my help and I am happy to say today they are fully different birds who chirp, happy and love to play out of the cage instead of the biting, hissing and attacks when first getting them.

  7. Carl Anthropian on October 18th, 2009 5:58 pm

    Thanks for the tips and help.

  8. social question on October 25th, 2009 9:22 pm

    Complete Cockatiel Bird Language And Behavior Guide with Videos….

  9. GG on November 10th, 2009 4:10 am

    When I take my 3 week old cockatiel chick out of its nest box to handle it will repeatedly shake his wings is this the ‘rearranging its feathers or is this something else?

  10. nicole on November 10th, 2009 11:39 pm

    thak u very much u answerd alot of my questions

  11. Dr. Cockatiel on November 12th, 2009 5:03 am

    you are very welcome. please visit anytime. thanks again

  12. Dr. Cockatiel on November 12th, 2009 5:10 am

    Since your cockatiel is only 3 weeks old, it is still weaning and developing. A store isn’t allowed to sell (well in New York at least) a bird until it is fully weaned and ready to be brought home which is usually 5-6 weeks after a cockatiel is born. Yours may just be getting excited because it thinks it’s feeding time since they are still “not ready to be on it’s own. He may be flapping because it’s natural for birds to wonder what their so called wings are lol. As long as he is healthy, is eating and not showing any signs of illness, the flapping thing is nothing bad or nothing to be worried about. He may be very happy to see you since they develop bonds early on and my youngest male cockatiel is 9 months old and still flaps for attention, food, to play and so on. It is cute though, hope this gets to you. Take care.

  13. John on November 16th, 2009 1:48 am

    What an interesting site! very informative.
    I have a 12 week old cockatiel that we have just brought home (2 days ago)from a pet shop. It is making a sound like a constant electric motor running, but its beak is shut tight. I know that it is getting used to us, but it gives me the feeling that the poor bird is upset, almost as if it is pining for something. it took a while for it to get used to where its food is, but doesn’t mind being handled gently.
    Any suggestions?

  14. Dr. Cockatiel on November 16th, 2009 4:24 am

    Hey John, congrats on bringing home your new cockatiel and at 12 weeks old he/she is still learning and adapting to it’s new home. The only sound I’ve heard from a cockatiel from your description is that as long as your bird isn’t biting or biting hard and not getting aggressive, then it’s purring… yes just like a cat. You could take him/her out, put them to your chest and pet them from neck up, almost backwards and you will prob hear that purring noise again. I don’t think your bird is feeling upset and it will take a little bit more before they become fully comfortable with the food and toys in the cage. Millet you can’t go wrong with as the most stubborn bird can’t turn it down lol. Hope this helps.

  15. Lila on February 21st, 2010 4:31 am

    Do you know what it means when a cockatiel rocks back in forth?

  16. Dr. Cockatiel on February 24th, 2010 11:28 am

    Hello Lila… from my experience – all my cockatiels I have and owned did that funny back and forth rocking lol. They do it for a few reasons but mostly it is your bird way of trying to get attention and almost like a little dance. Sometimes if they hear a unique noise and get curious they could do that trying to figure out what it was and where it came from. If yours does it often, even if no one is by the cage or while your birds alone (peak in the room if you need to check) – it could mean he is getting sick which they do if something isn’t right with them but that is more rare and you would be able to see other problems first but it is always good to get them a checkup. Thanks for writing.

  17. SB on March 15th, 2010 12:53 pm

    My cockatiel always picks at the fabric on my chair, and when I pick him up, he starts attacking me… is this him “preening” the chair? Or is it something else?

  18. Li on April 22nd, 2010 1:20 am

    We got a female cockatiel from a coworker who could not keep her. She is our second cockatiel and she is very frightened and aggressive. She hisses and lunges and does this sort of head and body shake that almost looks like a seizure but I think it is a warning gesture. She won’t sit on her perch but insists on sitting on the indention where her cage curves. We have successfully changed her diet from seed-only to peelets but I am at a loss of how to put her at ease with us. She does this lunge-shake behavior any time I talk to her or move nearer than 2 feet from her cage. Any ideas?

  19. Li on April 22nd, 2010 1:21 am

    Sorry, I meant to say we changed her diet from seed-only to pellets.

  20. Dr. Cockatiel on April 24th, 2010 2:58 am

    Hello and that is a excellent question. It was kind of you to take in another cockatiel and believe it or not, this act/gesture is very common in male and female cockatiels. This occurs more often when a bird is moved into a completely new home with all new people but the good news is that the problem can be fixed and if you read my about me page, you can see how that happened to me only with a very very abused and nasty cockatiel who would bite and go crazy even when trying to replace his food and water dish.

    If you got it from someone who you know did not neglect the cockatiel or abuse the bird, then it is just a case of being in a new environment and naturally will hiss, lunge and go into a protective state which is why you get that reaction when approaching the cockatiels bird cage. There is a bunch of changes you could do which will allow your cockatiel to gain your trust and with a little more detailed information, i would be more than glad to walk you through it since I’m positive every bird can be trained to be nice. Getting your cockatiel to eat pellets is a task on it’s own which you said you were able to do so that is excellent since most birds take months to accept pellets without throwing them onto the floor. The body head shake is a defensive move they use in the wild to appear more strong and avoid attacks by animals in the wild but that goes hand and hand with the hissing. Spooky who we named due to him being how he was and he still hisses and chirps but it’s all an act and I just put my finger out and he puts on his show then hops on, so each bird needs trial and error to find what works best. The location of the bird cage could be a major role in the attitude… high traffic area or alone in a room and your other cockatiel would make your new one nervous at first.

    how old is the female approx?
    what cage and size is the bird currently in?
    has the bird ever actually bit you or does it seem to just put on a act (females are alot less aggressive than males so it is already easier on your part)?
    what toys, activities do you have in the bird cage and do you notice any trend in like or dislikes?
    did you try moving the cage to different area’s, away from direct sunlight but not in a dark room alone all day?

    talking is good and you have to show her that you mean well and don’t want to harm her (pull up a chair close to the cage and just sit there for 2 minutes ignoring any hissing or lunging and see if she naturally stops at the time and note how her reaction is). After talk in a nice soft tone and just say good girl and anything to praise the bird, have a millet stick in hand and you’ll be amazed on how friendly they turn lol. Your goal is to first be by the cage talking without your bird trying to attack you, then you could keep the door open and let her come out and explore at her own pace and reward her with a treat when she acts good.

    If you get back to me, I promise to do my best and get you through this. I have and can take video’s of mine who acts similar and show you tricks and things I’ve done in the past which I found to work for me but I am not a professional… just grew up and between now and growing up, owned 20+ cockatiels as well as other bird species. Good luck and I can’t wait to hear back from you.

    Best Regards.

  21. Dr. Cockatiel on April 24th, 2010 2:59 am

    Your first question I answered in the previous comment and I hope you can use part of it to accomplish your goal.

  22. Dr. Cockatiel on April 24th, 2010 3:04 am

    Naturally birds will pick at strings, fabrics, carpet, anything that looks fun. Preening is when he starts biting himself to clean out the white dust there about to shake in your face lol. You just have to say no when he picks at anything hes not suppose to. Him attacking you might be just a leave me alone fake intimidation because mine will do that but will nibble on my finger and not bite. If it is a big problem you might need to get some new forging toys and shredding ones he could tear apart in his cage.

  23. Linda on May 6th, 2010 8:18 pm

    I just purchased a Lutino Cockatiel that is about 14 weeks old. Snuggles seems like he enjoys his new home and really likes to be out with the family, but when being held he constantly nips at our fingers or any flesh that he can get his beak into. However he stops if we wear gloves and long sleeved shirts on. How do we stop our precious baby from nipping and why is he acting this way?

  24. Linda on May 6th, 2010 10:17 pm

    Our family just purchased a 14 week old Lutino Cockatiel. We named him or her Snuggles. Snuggles has adjusted to the family quite well. When everyone is home Snuggles chirps and paces her cage and once I open the cage Snuggles imediately comes out and wants our attention. However, Snuggles has a nasty biting habit, so we bought gloves and it has basically elminated that problem (or at least we thought). If Snuggles sees any visible flesh she goes right for it and bites. It is not like an aggressive bite like shes angry, but a constant action. Why is Snuggles doing this? Have we done something wrong? Is it the way she may have been hand fed? Or could it be she was neglected at the pet store we purchased her from? I have looked at several web sites, read two books and have not been able to pin point the problem. Her crest is either at half-mast or simply relaxed when we interact with her. She also seems to like it when we watch her eat because when we greet her in the morning or throughout the day she will head staright to her food dish and eat and once we leave she chirps. I am confused and I hope I will be able to find a solution to her biting. I know it will take time and patience and I am willing to try everythting. I eagerly await your response. Thank you for your time.

  25. Nuna on May 8th, 2010 4:19 pm

    Hello! I have a beautiful little cockatiel named Ginko. She is almost 7 months old, and this guide has helped me understand her. I feel like we’re bonding more now ^^ I am trying to teach her to whistle little tunes. The person who I got her from says, “Its a myth only males can whistle songs. The vocal ability is waht you teach them.” Do you have any tips on how I can teach her to whistle? Another thing, she does little chirps once in a while. Like when I pick her up to play, or when she hears a bird outside, or just randomly when we’re on the couch. What does this mean?

  26. Dr. Cockatiel on May 31st, 2010 10:12 pm

    The location of the bird cage could be a major role in the attitude… high traffic area or alone in a room and your other cockatiel would make your new one nervous at first.

    how old is the female approx?
    what cage and size is the bird currently in?
    has the bird ever actually bit you or does it seem to just put on a act (females are alot less aggressive than males so it is already easier on your part)?
    what toys, activities do you have in the bird cage and do you notice any trend in like or dislikes?
    did you try moving the cage to different area’s, away from direct sunlight but not in a dark room alone all day?

    talking is good and you have to show her that you mean well and don’t want to harm her (pull up a chair close to the cage and just sit there for 2 minutes ignoring any hissing or lunging and see if she naturally stops at the time and note how her reaction is). After talk in a nice soft tone and just say good girl and anything to praise the bird, have a millet stick in hand and you’ll be amazed on how friendly they turn lol. Your goal is to first be by the cage talking without your bird trying to attack you, then you could keep the door open and let her come out and explore at her own pace and reward her with a treat when she acts good.

  27. Dr. Cockatiel on May 31st, 2010 10:13 pm

    If you got it from someone who you know did not neglect the cockatiel or abuse the bird, then it is just a case of being in a new environment and naturally will hiss, lunge and go into a protective state which is why you get that reaction when approaching the cockatiels bird cage. There is a bunch of changes you could do which will allow your cockatiel to gain your trust and with a little more detailed information, i would be more than glad to walk you through it since I’m positive every bird can be trained to be nice.

  28. Sandy on June 24th, 2010 7:50 am

    Good information and this site helped me alot in my college assignment. Thanks you for your information.

  29. George Vergerstan on June 29th, 2010 3:10 am

    Found the answers to many question’s I had about my cockatiel and now my wife has been reading every article on your site and is enjoying the learning process. Any tips for keeping a cockatiel from screaming so early in the morning? I know it’s normal but ours starts at 5:30am and does it all day whether we are in the room or not. When we try to play with her, she will not come out of the cage but just sit there and scream. She was never like this and it started a few month’s ago. Nothing I can think of has changed to cause this and the only thing we changed was a toy here and there but the play’s with them. She will not bite but seems afraid to come out and we were getting worried.

  30. Nuna on August 3rd, 2010 10:57 pm

    It took a while, but I’m back.
    Her age… when I got her she was 7 weeks old, and I’ve almost had her for about a year (in november/october)
    She has fairly large cage, good for smallish/medium sized birds.
    We keep her near the windowsill, she enoys climbing on it and gazing outside :)
    She doesn’t play a lot with toys, but when she does, she’ll ring her toy-bell.
    My sister got a male cockatiel recently, but that really made a change in her behavior. Maybe, besides being less lonely.
    I spend as much time with her as I can, talking, whistling replies and “chirps”. Her sitting on my shoulder, snuggling, taking her outside.
    When I do approach her, he opens her beak as a warning then nibbles my finger, and allows me to pet her. Slower actions help too, but she will always nibble my finger before anything.
    She spends time with her older birdy friend playing and climbing on her fake tree branch (count that as a toy if you want)

    She hasn’t molted yet, and the other cockatiel she plays with has softer feathers, which I’m curious about. She also wont really eat a lot of fresh fruits of veggies, mostly dried things.

  31. Rebecca on August 20th, 2010 3:59 am

    I have owned several cockatiels, but have one right now who has an odd behavior that I do not understand. It is like a hiss, but not. It usually occurs when Lu is sitting in my finger or shoulder and will suddenly shake his head, make a really quick hiss, open his wings out a bit and keep his beak wide open for a second. He does this all the time if you move the hand he is on too fast, or move too quickly around him, but sometimes he will do it when sitting completely still and quiet. People often pull back because it looks like he is lunging to attack and bite. But he is not a biter and after watching it many, many times it doesn’t seem to be anything more consequential than a sneeze, but it is startling and odd. Have you seen this behavior or know what it is?

  32. Rebecca on September 3rd, 2010 5:48 pm

    Recently lu has started adding the head bob right after this behavior. Also to clarify, when I said it sounds like a hiss but is not- it sounds more like a quick inhale/exhale breath. He is doing this action even more now, almost as if to get my attention.

    He is now 9 1/2 months and though I do not know the sex for sure, he is beginning to show some male behaviors. He is still sweet, easy to train, and friendly to strangers (besides this weird habit that startles people). He is fully flighted, is out with me about 6-8 hours a day and is trained to fly to me when my arm is out, as well as to fly to his cage to poop (mostly :) . He has lots of chew toys, exercise, and loves his veggies.

    He has done the weird behavior to me 3 times since I began writing this. One thought I have is it is a left over baby behavior, demanding food or something?

  33. Trent on October 24th, 2010 10:08 pm

    People tell me that yelling, punishing, responding with anger, banging on the cage bars or any other negative responses will damage the trust your bird has in you. Also that it teaches your bird that screaming gets desirable results. Is this correct in any way?

  34. Lauren on December 18th, 2010 3:38 am

    I have a 6 month old male Tiel who has recently become very aggressive. He used to love hopping onto my hand to get out of his cage and I could easily get him to step up and sit with me for long periods of time. In the last few weeks, he has become reluctant to leave his cage, bites me so hard that my fingers bleed and will sometimes chase my hand along the floor trying to bite it when I try to pick him up. He has also developed an obsession with a mirror in my room which I don’t let him look at anymore but he always tries to get to it and attacks me if I stop him. What can do to stop this behaviour?

  35. Dr. Cockatiel on December 18th, 2010 7:34 am


    He is still a baby so that change of behavior and attachment to items doesn’t usually happen until years 1-2 of age… at least the biting you that hard. The main question you have to ask yourself is “do you spend at least 30 minutes a day with your cockatiel? Being in the same room doesn’t count, I’m talking about holding him and dedicating birdie time everyday. Cockatiels need attention and if alone alot because of work, they make friends with something around them such as that mirror. It will go away once he knows that playtime is coming soon since they keep track of hours pretty good. Maybe a bird cage mirror will take away from attacking your mirror but it is trial and error since each bird is unique… make sure his wings are clipped as they will realize they can’t fly and make him come to you if he wants to get picked up. Make sure he gets at least 8 hours of sleep each night, move the cage location if you want to see if he takes different to a different area. Let me know which way your going to go or a little more information and I could be more precise in a answer.

  36. Dr. Cockatiel on December 18th, 2010 7:36 am


    It will damage his trust, make him aggressive towards you and others and when they scream and you come in screaming they got your attention and what they wanted. when repeated, they learn they could just scream and you will come in. Ignore it as hard as that is for a week and I am sure he will calm down.

  37. Dr. Cockatiel on December 18th, 2010 7:57 am


    Lu is most likely bobbing his head often while in it’s bird cage might be trying to tell you a variety of things. In a young or unweaned bird… it is often a sign of hunger. Your cockatiel Lu may be begging for food. If he is an older cockatiel, it could be a way of showing off or trying to get some attention. Some will even bop when you play music they like, lol it’s so cute.

  38. kevin on January 25th, 2011 10:09 pm

    i got a cockatiel about five days ago and he only stays on his food bowl he dont play with his toys or move around much he’s pretty friendly hes about 24-34 weeks old is this ok?i take him out daily and he just trys to run to his cage unless i have his food dish with him

  39. kevin on January 25th, 2011 10:12 pm

    sorry left out his cage is very big its a flight cage 31/21/35

  40. kevin on January 25th, 2011 10:32 pm

    *16-20 weeks old*

  41. Jolene on January 29th, 2011 5:17 pm

    This was a great read! A lot of this I knew from observing my 16 month old cockatiel, Cacaface. There were a few things that were new to me and I found it very insightgul! Thank you Dr. Cockatiel. I love my bird. He’s my baby. I’m 22 years old and work part time so I can spend time with him to talk with him and show him my love. He’s my perfect pet. He’s so smart and he even sings Lady GaGa’s song, Bad Romance! I love it when he greets me in the morning and blows me kisses and asks me “what are you doing?” I’m very lucky to be a proud owner of this fantastic bird :)

    Thanks for the helpful information!


  42. tina on February 12th, 2011 11:41 am

    my female Bonnie died 2 weeks ago – very sad time , i bought a young female as my male Jovi seemed to be pining forr her . we kept them side by side in seperate cages and things seemed all ok , tried to intraduce them to same cage after a week n Jovi just kept on trying to attack her !!!! seperated them straight away – any ideas how to stop him ??

  43. Diana on March 2nd, 2011 11:57 am

    Hi, I have a almost 4 months old Cockatiel and I would like to know if is ok for him to play with the paper towel roll? He loves to play with it and bites on it and It destroys the all thing.So I dont know if is good for him because I don’t know if he is eating parts of it… then I would like to know what age is when they star talking or saying any words?.

    Thank you:-)

  44. Gwen on March 14th, 2011 3:11 pm

    I have an eight month little girl. Very recently she has started ‘tail wagging’ from side to side but also brings her tail forward and backwards, whistling softly. She does it with her ball only and opens her wings in the ‘heart shape’ stance while she is busy. Her ball is in front of her. Is she maturbating???? Do I take the ball away????

  45. diamyn on March 29th, 2011 2:16 am

    i have a very interesting question what should you do if your cockatiels head turns backwards and it leans forward and its head turns in circles

  46. Daniel on April 7th, 2011 6:05 am

    Hi lately my cockatiel has been eating heaps more than often What does that mean?

  47. pont1977 on April 17th, 2011 9:28 pm

    I have a female Cockatiel and when she sits on my shoulder she rubs her head on my ear and behind my ear. Why is that? Also, She crouches down and leans forward and chirps? why does she do that?

  48. Sarah on May 18th, 2011 9:04 pm

    What does it meanwhen my bird wil lean forward and spread his wings and stick his but up at you.

  49. Vanessa on May 23rd, 2011 12:42 am

    Thanks for posting this, it was also funny to read with your sense of humour :)

  50. Dr. Cockatiel on June 3rd, 2011 9:26 am

    Your welcome and I write these hoping to help people with questions that most places don’t bring up or answer.

  51. Dr. Cockatiel on June 3rd, 2011 9:39 am

    He is still getting used to his new home. Remember he went from one complete different area to another. He is very young still so just make sure fresh food is available and he will eat it. Alot of times they eat when alone so you may not even see him eating while your at work or etc…

    He runs back to his cage because he is scared. Stay in the room with him and watch tv or do whatever you normally one but keep his door open. Let him come out and explore on his own will, you will soon be asking how do you get him back into his cage LOL. You can try parakeet seed at first since he may not be big enough to eat normal cockatiel food.

  52. Dr. Cockatiel on June 3rd, 2011 9:40 am

    Sounds like the cage is intimidating for him at the moment. Just do not grab him to come out as you do not want him to turn into a biter.

  53. Dr. Cockatiel on June 3rd, 2011 9:42 am

    A cockatiel isn’t ready to be bought or moved for at least 5-6 weeks after born so look at factors surrounding his cage. Do you have other birds, animals, is it near a drafty window? Is sunlight getting to him… where is the cage located? Around center of action in the house or is he/she isolated in a room by itself. All this plays a factor.

  54. Dr. Cockatiel on June 3rd, 2011 9:48 am

    Your very welcome. I love hearing stories like that and it even shows me how unique cockatiels still can be. You will be amazed at what else your bird can pull off overtime and what he will mimic. It does sound like he is happy so you are doing a great job.

    Whenever my cockatiel potties outside his cage I look at him and go Uh Oh, did someone poop and he makes me funny gesture and chirps/talks and says “yeah” followed by a pretty girl whistle then clicks his break as if he’s laughing. (cockatiels aren’t the best talkers but you do get alot of 1 word answers from them)

  55. Dr. Cockatiel on June 3rd, 2011 9:50 am

    Each cockatiel is different and some may never talk or say words. They are known for singing and mimicking sounds. There is no time limit or age that they just start but males have more of a tendency to speak while females chirp and sing more. Paper towel rolls are fine, just make sure there is no glue stuck on it which could harm him.

  56. Susanna on June 5th, 2011 11:31 am

    Hello Dr. Cockatiel,

    We bought a cockatiel 3 weeks ago from a pet store. They told us he was 3 to 6 months old. Since we have him, Chompers had not been very sociable and does not like being around us, although he does love to be outside his cage (2 to 4h per day). We whistle and talk to him all the time. He eats well and sleeps with his beck in his back feathers. Now, he is always puffy and sleeps at the bottom of his cage. Also, when he gets out of his cage, he always go to the carpet and nap there, not a very active bird. We read on your website that if a bird is puffy all the time and sleeps at the bottom of his cage, that may mean he is sick… Is there any chance that he may still be puffy because he is young?? Thank you for your answer and website!

  57. Dr. Cockatiel on June 5th, 2011 3:10 pm

    There are too many factors to pin-point the problem at this time. You will save alot of time and possibly your birds health by getting your cockatiel checked out by a vet ASAP. If he is sick or there is a problem inside which you cannot see, you can treat it before it’s too late.

    If he comes back with a clean bill of health then it’s just behavior and training lessons you will have to work on with your bird. Cockatiels puff up alot but should be shaking off all the loose little white features which this bird is notorious for. The fact that he get’s out of his cage means his comfortable enough to leave his home and needs more personal training… if you got your bird from a reputable dealer then they would of trimmed it’s wings before you bringing it hoe and might not realize he can fly.

    I had a similar problem where my newest baby cockatiel would come out of the cage but not leave the bars and had to get him to use a ladder for him to fully come out but he slowly climbed down to the floor. His first 4-5 months I never saw him even attempt to fly or jump or do anything but chase me around on the floor and follow me room to room would but just run fast which was pretty funny/cute.

    All of a sudden, the next day I walked out of the room waiting for him to speed burst to me and he must of been excitied and next thing I know is he jumped off the ground and flew the best he can towards me (this being his first time in flight). Since then, he likes to abuse his flying power because now I put him on the floor and he just flys right up to my shoulder and now that his wings grew in full, he could soar throughout the house so I always trim when they get too long for his safety and then he can still jump and take off but doesn’t go very far and will jump onto my foot and climb up my leg, shirt to my shoulder.

    Sleeping at the bottom of the cage would only be if your bird layed eggs and was protecting them but your male isn’t capable of that, and at his age in general it doesn’t happen. What cage do you have him in now and is it on on a level where you have eye level with your bird? Do you have a rolling playpen and gym for him to use outside the cage – you just need to get him used to climbing and exploring. If you don’t do the step up command with your bird yet or he won’t climb on your finger, you need to learn that first before anything. Let me know how it goes. Thanks.

  58. Oriana on June 9th, 2011 11:20 pm


    I have a two year old male cockatiel called pumpkin. He is tame and friendly to me, but doesn’t like my boyfriend at all. He chases him around trying to bite his feet and toes all the time. Is there any chance that I would be able to get my bird to like my boyfriend or is it too late for him to stop being so protective of me? I think he thinks that I am his girlfriend lol He tries to rub himself on my feet and talks to my toes and fingers a lot rather than my face. (Is it normal for cockatiels to have foot fetishes?)

    I was also wondering if there is a good way to discipline a cockatiel? As I found another male one called hopper 2 months ago and he is rather shy, won’t let me pet him or pick him up etc but loves sitting on my shoulder all the time. Sometimes he bites me, flys and jumps into my food seemingly on purpose (pumpkin doesn’t do this, only hopper) I have to chase him around the house with a towel to put him back in his cage which I don’t like doing but I don’t know a better way. Do you know how I can stop him from biting, and make him more friendly to me?

    Thank you :)

  59. valerie kindle on June 16th, 2011 10:23 pm

    my cockatiel never use to shred his newspaper that
    I use at the bottom of the cage. Now he does it
    all the time shredding paper like he’s making a nest or something.

  60. Larry on June 19th, 2011 1:03 pm

    Doctor cockatie, do cockatiels have the same ability as a homing pigeon, to find its way back home, or is this unusual ? I take the bird out occasionally and let it fly around, it flies around for a few minutes then lands on my shoulder but it has taken off for a day or so but has managed to find its way back, is this common, I would appreciate your expertise
    My e-mail is

  61. Lisa on June 26, 2011 12:30 on June 26th, 2011 1:52 pm

    Hello Dr. Cockatiel:

    We have four cockatiels: mom, dad and two 9 mo. old females. The baby girls started to drop eggs about a month ago with no physical contact. I think I may have started this by petting them too much; however, I’ve decreased that to a minimum when needed. What should I do with the eggs at this point? Thank you in advance for you response.

  62. Mike on July 5th, 2011 4:37 pm

    Hello. Have had Burt for 22 years and with the exception of a poor diet induced bout of feather pulling last year which a vet has helped to resolve, he has been heathy. Recently though in the past 4 weeks he has begun really chewing up his newspaper (like all of it) whereas in the past maybe just a little bit and only once in a while. He has also begun chewing on the cuttle bones which have always been there for him, but normally ignored over the years. What gives. I noticed one question above about newspapers so will check back soon to learn what you think is going on. Thanks.

  63. Maggie on July 6th, 2011 9:59 pm

    I have 2 cockatiels at least 15 years old that I inherited from my Mom.
    We thought they were both males. They both are around the same age, but one is a grey with a white face/head and Pretty is yellow with orange cheeks.

    Just a few days ago they were both maturating simultaneously. When they get a bos it always gets destroyed, not this time. Coto is in it everyday, gets glassy black ey and rocks skwiky side to side. Large poops and funky looking above his/her crest. Pretty stays out of the box which is unusual, just Coto goes in.

    No egg yet..are they too old, is he a she? I am so perplexed. I am not really worried but they have me so confused right now I am lost. Help!

  64. Zoë on July 8th, 2011 2:43 pm

    Hello Dr. Cockatiel:
    I have gotten two 5 year old cockatiels from a lady and her family. When I brought the tiels home, they seemed to not like it or me very much, and display signs that they do not like me very much. Should I be worried? Will they come to like me eventually?

  65. Betty on July 9th, 2011 5:48 pm

    Is spinach bad for birds? I also would like to ad that my first cockatiel has been having health problems when I had him on a seed diet recommended by the pet shop oh about 14 years ago. At age seven I started to change his diet recommended by my avian vet who also advised me that I should “update” his cage since back when I got him, the cages metal was toxic for him if he chewed on it. So I also picked up a nice new cockatiel cage for him which made him happy (I was able to see a difference in attitude almost right away)

    He eats very well now but also needs to take supplements due to his age. He does not do as well without the supplements. Is spinach good or bad for cockatiels, I have been told both and cannot don’t want to risk it. I want him to keep up with his younger friends as they are more active and as playful as he is… his age keeps him from doing that. I give him Sunseed sundrops which I was told are good, do you have any advice for my bird or products that I should be using. Thanks Dr.


  66. Patrica on July 10th, 2011 3:29 pm

    Hi, I had my cockatiel for over 2 weeks and I have not seen my baby cockatiel eating or drinking water. How can I tell if it is?

  67. Luis on July 10th, 2011 9:33 pm

    How can I tell if my parrot cockatiel is male or female?

  68. Dr. Cockatiel on July 12th, 2011 3:25 am

    Hi Barbara, great to hear from you and a excellent question. YES YES YES… spinach is great for cockatiels and all birds, just not everyday or all the time. In moderation, it is 100% non-toxic and very healthy for him to eat. It will also give him energy overall which will help him stay healthy (unfortunately it wont make him run around the cage all day playing but you will be doing him a great favor).

    The reason I say not to feed it all the time is because spinach is made up of one ingredient that can effect your cockatiels absorption which you don’t want being he is 14. Add a little to a separate dish which you only put non seed or regular cockatiel food in and first see how he even takes to eating it lol. Some cockatiels like it, some don’t.

    Years ago when all the research was being done on cockatiel food and health, I switched my cockatiels diet and added in fresh foods – WOW what a big change that made. Till this day, I always feed them healthy food, well all my birds – cockatiels or not, get fresh health food. They ended up looking so much better, cleaner and I was easily able to see a change in attitude as they were happier.

    Just because its a green vegetable, doesn’t mean it is healthy. For example do not let them eat broccoli because it will make them sick and could easily kill them. I have a list of good and bad foods for birds which I am going to send you if you can tell me your e-mail. Thanks for writing.

  69. cockatiels no feathers on July 15th, 2011 7:33 pm

    question;why the parents cockatielskeeps on pulling the feathers oftheyre youngones.the babys dont have any feathers left.

  70. amie on July 18th, 2011 12:53 pm

    hi i have just a few questions and dont want to take up to much of your time so ill just put the basic down,ive had my cockatiel for about 3 years now and he is aggressive most of the time like when i go to cover him up at night he will fan tail and hiss at me and lunge at me i dont act on it i just say good night and cover him up,the only thing he seems to be ok with is when i give him a shower and food lol he will not come out of his cage ive opend his door and sat way from him to let him come out in his own time if he wishes to as i dont want to force him to do anything he dont want to ,but his aggression is abit to much ive tryed puttin my hand in his cage just resting it at the bottom and slowly moveing it a little closer to him bit by bit but he moves away the hisses and lunges, i really dont know what to do as i dont want to be stressing him out but id really like him to be less aggressive (if possible) and id hate to think that he is scared of me and dont feel safe with me …please help

  71. sharon on July 18th, 2011 2:55 pm

    my cockatiel dont have her too feet one looks like if something or someone yanked it off and the other,is not normal she only walks alittle but she manuvers her self on the cage with her pick she os only 3 month and ahalf old she is very growshy and dosent want to bee taken out of the cage for me to cleane it she likes to be all the time warm why is that??
    did she suffer from her parents or an abuse??
    then she always trimbles like if im going to hurt her why??
    on her cage since she like to be high I made some steps for her so she can clim thats all she can do but she is learning to fly can you or someone help me???

  72. Kate on July 18th, 2011 9:30 pm

    I just adopted a male, 11/2 year old cockateil. He was hand raised and smart, sweet, verbal and melodic. My question is what does it when he walks back and forth or circles on the top of my hand and nibbles.

    Thank you,
    Love your website

  73. Andrea on July 19th, 2011 2:14 pm

    My male Tiel is over preening the head of my female Tiel and she is bald. As soon as her head feathers start growing back, he over preens them and pulls them out. They are in different cages when I’m not home and out of their cages when I am home so they are supervised, but she constantly lowers her head to him so that he will preen her.

    Other than being unsightly (I’d like to stop this behavior), any suggestions or just let it go since she is asking for it?



  74. Robert on July 22nd, 2011 4:45 am

    Am I feeding my cockatiel to much seed? How much is too much and how much is good to give. I was told too much is not healthy for him. Thank you.

  75. Cher on July 24th, 2011 5:50 pm

    is it okay to be feeding your bird table scraps from your meals?

  76. Dr. Cockatiel on July 25th, 2011 3:09 am

    cockatiels no feathers,

    I think you should take away the young ones that the parents are picking on and move them to a separate cage for the time being. Sometimes parents want to breed again and with all the babies there, it’s not possible for them so they find this as a way to breed again. I know it sounds weird but cockatiels are so incredibly unique that anything could happen. Leaving them in there longer could result in the parent killing the young baby.

    I’m not a licensed expert on this subject but from experience and stories I heard, that is my best advice.

  77. Dr. Cockatiel on July 25th, 2011 3:15 am


    For something like this I would bring your bird to a avian vet for the health of your cockatiel. You do not have time to try different things or wait for trust. If you have to, get a glove and as best as you can, get her into a travel cage so they could check the bird out to find out what the problem is. Your bird might be acting like this due to the foot hurting her regardless of how it was obtained. Once you know the foot problem, you could start working on having her trust you and want to come out of the cage. That is my opinion as I don’t want your bird to get hurt at any stage of training her.

  78. Dr. Cockatiel on July 25th, 2011 3:20 am


    Love to hear about the adoption of cockatiels as that is a huge sacrifice your making by taking in a bird. If he is just nibbling on your hand and not biting or trying to break skin… it really sounds like he is just having fun and love being with you. The back and forth moving/walking circles on your hand is his way of getting your attention and “dancing” for you. The nibbling might be to get your attention… does he nibble if your looking at him and talking to him?

    As long as he doesn’t bite you or start acting aggressive then you got yourself one happy bird and have nothing to worry about. You can take him to a avain vet to get checked out for overall health since he was adopted but every bird regardless should get a checkup twice a year.

  79. Dr. Cockatiel on July 25th, 2011 3:29 am


    Cockatiels love seed and can tolerate more than other birds but seed is fatty and if you only have him on a seed only diet, he will be deprived of vitamins and get fat eventually.

    You should try to ween your bird onto pellets by mixing pellets and seed slowly until he is eating pellets only which contain the same healthy parts of seed with essentials your bird needs. Also try fresh fruits and veggies because they are a great source of vitamins and minerals… and it adds some fun to your birds diet. Offer your bird fruits n` veggies every day, try whole, chopped, grated, chunked, cooked and sliced (you don’t have to get fancy with it).

    Give your bird a lot of options. Choose dark green or orange fruits and vegetables for some vitamin A. Excellent starter foods would be kale, carrots, cooked squash, cooked sweet potatoes, spinach, apples, some peppers, soybeans, green beans, oranges, peaches, pears, plums and others if you really want to get down to detail. Remove any fresh foods after a few hours each time so that your bird doesn’t end up eating anything that has spoiled. You will find a good combination shortly after seeing what your bird likes and don’t like.

  80. Dr. Cockatiel on July 25th, 2011 3:34 am


    There are some scraps that are always good for your birds. Veggies are #1. For example, non-dressing salad scraps are excellent. They love pasta, and I think it’s a good treat to give a noodle here and there but remember pasta is loaded with carbs and turns straight to fat in birds, so you need to be careful on how much table scraps (food) your offering your bird.

    The scraps are basically treats for your bird. So the key with treats is, give your bird treats as treats. Treats are not a meal nor a healthy diet for your bird. Use them as you would with buying a toy treat from the pet store.

  81. Christian on July 28th, 2011 12:35 pm

    Hi my cockatiel does this little soft whistling thing can you tellbme what is it trying to do or what the behavior is? Thanks email me at

  82. sharon on July 28th, 2011 12:40 pm

    thanx doc i took her to a vet the vet told me that it is a deformity because her mom lack of nutrients so she would of develop completley now she is calm and she does not trimbles anymore the vet said that she is just scare and feom beeing an outside bird and now inside it will take her time to adjust to her new life inside and vet said too tjat her cage what i did is very convenient for her since she has that problem
    i have been taking very well care of her now she is more friendly like to be around me even like to take baths now since water is like the lotin for the cockatiel thanx for your advice love your page

  83. Meranda on July 28th, 2011 4:38 pm

    Hi, My family and I have owned our cockatiel for a few years now. We bought him from a local pet store when he was only a few weeks old. He didn’t have any feathers and we still had to feed him formula. He was bought for my little sister but became and still is very attached to my mom. She was the one that always fed him. Anyways, he has been a completely normal, happy bird. These last couple days while he is on his perch in his cage he has been bobbing slightly up and down while kind of pacing back and forth. At the same time he is making a faint cherping noise. I’ve heard him make this noise before but I’ve never seen him pace and bob like he his. Also, usually when he does this it is only for a couple minutes and he is done. He has been doing this continuously for the last two days. Neither my mom nor I know what this means. I was hoping you could help. Thank you.

  84. Sam on July 29th, 2011 3:15 am

    Guys thanks for all your comments and details shared …I have two birds one nemo (male)and kutty(Female) ,dont know what age they are …5 days before i bought them from pet store .One gray and one pearl colour.They call me once i am in home and play like move forward and backward …climbing …some time kutty hangs like a bat .they whistle when i do some time …some time they play .When i call “come here” they come some time, some time they never mind .can i open the cage and leave them free and train them from today ? asap they ate from my hand like i was out side holding the food they ate from the cage .can i start training them or i should build more trust ???reply me soon because am more interested more than my birds . I love them so much …….

  85. ema on July 30th, 2011 7:47 am

    hi i have a 4 month old cockatiel unsure of the sex i got him 3 days aqgo from a petshop he seems healthy but and makes some noise i had him sitting on my finger yesterday but today he just bites and flaps to get away i really want to let him out of the xage in the day but i dont want to have to chase him to get him back in the cage as he may see me as a predator can you suggest anyways to solve this thanks

  86. Sam on August 1st, 2011 8:04 pm

    One of my cockatiels bit the others foot. This time he started to limp. And now im afraid that its hurting him badly. What should i do to prevent them from biting at eachother

  87. Sam on August 4th, 2011 12:49 am

    Dr. Cockatiel are you on vacation ???

  88. Kenty on August 4th, 2011 4:31 am

    My Tiel has an open top cage, always and it keeps leaning forward lifting its tail and pacing back and forth all at the same time, but it cant be the “let me out” pace cause it can get out whenever.

    not sure if its a boy or girl but my girlfriend hasnt seen it do this at all, i think i have a horny female bird maybe?, also, it wont copy my whistles like my last tiel, ive been whistling at it for months.

  89. gerard on August 5th, 2011 7:26 pm

    Recently got a cockatiel that not very social wont come out of its cage it chirps when it needs food becomes agressive when i try and let it out its cage how do i build its trust

  90. boli on August 7th, 2011 1:10 am

    Can you put 3 cockateils in a cage together????

  91. Dr. Cockatiel on August 7th, 2011 12:10 pm


    If your able to play with him and he is a non aggressive bird… he is just singing/talking to himself. A few of mine will do it after they eat a fresh bowl of food, I think it’s such a cute whistle. Your cockatiel sounds are nothing more than your bird being happy.

    He may do it while your in the room with him which means he is just singing to you or wants to chat lol.

  92. Dr. Cockatiel on August 7th, 2011 12:15 pm


    Your welcome and I am glad to hear that your cockatiel is doing better. An outside cockatiels life is much much different than inside – most of the problems are do to so many animals trying to attack them… bringing one inside they still hear the birds outside so yours might still be getting jitters over that.

    Anything you can do in the cage to make it easier for your birdie, they will love you for it. Did the vet suggest vitamins or any supplement for your bird due to the lack of nutrients. I assume any licensed vet should have told you to buy some items.

    Good luck with everything and let me know if you need help picking out vitamins.

  93. Dr. Cockatiel on August 7th, 2011 12:19 pm


    If your cockatiel is not mean and does not try to bite – as well as be played with out of the cage then your in good shape. He is just trying to get your attention as he feels you’ve been lacking playtime lately (hehe). I’ve seen many cockatiels do this, it’s very normal even for parrots and alot of birds.

    Our senagul parrot does this all the time and the moment we open the cage, he runs out to us like we’re covered in peanuts. If he is not able to be touched and acting aggressive towards you and your mother, then he might be sick and I would get a checkup for him.

  94. Dr. Cockatiel on August 7th, 2011 12:24 pm


    The earlier you build trust and train them the better. When they are young is when they learn most of their lifelong traits and habits. Training a bird is also building trust at the same time as that is interaction between you and your birds which they don’t forget.

    Cockatiels are picky so there will be times where you will want to play and they don’t want to be bothered and other times when they want to play and you don’t want to be bothered. Setup 15-30min a day around the same time and bring them to a playstand and just see what they can do and were they are willing to start training with you. They will quickly get accustomed to that time being play and training time and it will be easier and more likely for them to come out and play.

    Trick: Use a millet spray when training and when they do a good thing, let them have a bite. It works.

  95. Dr. Cockatiel on August 7th, 2011 12:26 pm


    Bring the limping one to a vet to make sure there is no infection and he is not seriously injured and I think you should take away the one who bites for now and move him to a separate cage for the time being, even if in the same room. Just in the time being until the other cockatiel doesn’t limp and has a clean bill of health.

  96. Dr. Cockatiel on August 7th, 2011 12:28 pm


    I am not on vacation, just very busy lately with work and bird baby sitting. I always try to find time to get on and answer questions though the best I can. Thanks visiting the again once again.

  97. Dr. Cockatiel on August 7th, 2011 12:29 pm


    As long as they don’t fight, you can put 10 in a cage as long as it’s a huge cage. Make sure the cage for 3 is large enough where they each have there own area and not on top of each other.

  98. zalmer on August 8th, 2011 1:33 pm

    We brought two young cockatiels about a week ago and lost one the other become very unhappy and was rapidly climbing round his cage so I have borrowed me mothers cockatiel which has been on his own for a while because his friend die. which has done the trick with the young bird sweetie and my mothers bird charlie has started singing and whistling which he has not done for a long time at the moment I am keeping them in separate cages but am allowing them to fly together. my question is when will I know that they will be all right in the same cage over night? hope you can help me with this as I think they are getting on well.

  99. Li on August 9th, 2011 1:16 am

    Have a female cockatiel that I have had for over a year now. She was given to my family bbecause she would not lay eggs so the breeder didn’t want her anymore. She used to be sweet and playful, but now she is always. On one perch, eating, drinking, or sleeping. She also lays empty. Eggs all the time, and I want to know if there is anyway to make her playful and trusting again. And if you can train a cockatiel to not lay eggs? She “rubs” on her toys and I took the ones that she could out, but she has maneuvered herself so that she can rub on the side of the cage.

    I also have two other cockatiels, males, and they are kept in a seperate room. I don’t think they have anything to do with it because she is not allowed any contact with them at all.

    Thanks Dr. Cockatiel!

  100. Vanessa on August 10th, 2011 4:13 pm

    Loved this article.

    My cockatiel, Tweety, is about 12 or 13 years old. We had him since he was a 3 month old little baby. He’s a sweet bird but very territorial since we let him out of the cage for the whole day. (He’s out from 6 am to about 9:30 pm) While he’s out of the cage, he likes to explore the livingroom and go under the wall unit, behind or under a chair, and even behind the curtain. He’ll stay there for about half an hour then come running out. When we call for him, he comes running out and when he don’t look he goes back into his little hiding space. Is this normal?

    Our other cockatiel Jessie used to do the same thing. Could he have learned it from Jessie?

  101. zee on August 11th, 2011 7:44 pm

    I have bought two cockatiels male( kuku ) and female (mango)they are both 12 months old. mango is ery scared of me and runs away from me when i try to get her out of the cage although she does not bite me. kuku nibbles my fingers but come sto me and sits on my hand but being a male he does not sing at all , I have never heard him sing since i got him. and now he is always puffed up and hides his face in his feathers, this is going on for a day now and im ver worried. plz advice.

  102. sharon on August 12th, 2011 11:17 pm

    thanx a vet saw her nut he doesnot secify on birds he told me frpm tha little tha he knew it was that but scince i live in another country far fron the us is very dificult to find an avian vet and the dogs and cats vets know but they are not and yes i would like to kno what kind of vitamins she could have

  103. Sam on August 17th, 2011 12:03 am

    Dr. Cockatiel Thank u so much …..
    Now I have cut thier wings .Trust which i build is gone ….now i force them to come out of the cage . but they run to a corner and stay there for long time .I go near and try to train them but both are trying to bite me like any thing …..always trying to bite …i dont know what to do ??!!??

    Waiting for your reply ….

  104. dogus on August 22nd, 2011 7:48 am

    Hello! i have a cockatiel male bird too. I was wondering is it bad to keep a cockatiel in the same bedroom as i sleep in? I heard from other people that they can realise feathers or something into the air and that’ll get into my airway system and cause lung problems?

  105. Dr. Cockatiel on August 22nd, 2011 8:22 am

    You won’t know until you try it. If they are good next to each other in different cages and act fine while out together… you could open both cages and see if one comes out on it’s own and if one goes into the others cage and see how they respond. Sometimes 1 will stop the other from eating and bully him with you don’t want but I am sure they will be fine once they know there both not out to hurt each other.

  106. Dr. Cockatiel on August 22nd, 2011 8:24 am

    Hello Li,

    We have a cockatiel who lays eggs alot and protects them even though she is alone in a cage. The singing of male cockatiels from any room in the house could cause hormones and make the bird lay eggs. I don’t think there is a way to train her not to lay eggs as you have no control over that. A avian pet would be better for your specific situation I believe.

  107. Dr. Cockatiel on August 22nd, 2011 8:26 am


    I keep my new year old cockatiel in the same room as me as everybody is different. If you clean often and the dust feathers do not bother you, then it’s fine to keep him in the same bedroom as long as your not up all night with lights, tv and sounds which will prevent your bird from sleeping. I keep a HEPA filter unit in the room to cut down on the dandruff and overall feather dust given off by him and it helps alot.

  108. Elise on August 31st, 2011 10:23 am

    I think it’s really great that you’ve established a thread of “forum” full of information for new “parents” of cockatiels! And I would really like to thank you for all that great information!

    I have 2 questions which I hope you could help us with thou.
    We got our lil Percy about a month ago and now he’a bonded very much with us. He won’t let is walk away when he’s eating and he won’t let us walk away when he’s playing outside his cage. Most of the time when we’re home we’ll let him out and he’ll stay on our shoulder or plays with his rubber bands (his favorite toy!)

    However, since this week, he’s been extremely clingy and won’t let us have a peaceful dinner if we left him in the cage. And because my partner and I works during the day, some other days we left him at home with the radio playing instead of bringing him to work. And I’ve noticed since this week, he’s been chirping a lot, not lout but noticeable from one room to the other. And even when I’ve fed him with enough food, water, toys, and on my shoulder, he’s still chirping with an interval of about half a min! Why?! Should I be worried?

    Next, he’s been bought back from a breeder and we think he’s been hand-reared. The breeder told us he wasn’t. But he’s been so tamed since we got him so we just assumed he was hand reared. Problem is, he loves it when we put our face against his face or beak, but he will bite us when we attempt to pet him on the head or anywhere near his head. And he most definitely hates it when somebody grabs him. Is there any ways to fix that?!

    Thanks so much dr. Cockatiel!

  109. Kevin on September 1st, 2011 2:55 pm

    I just got a 3 year old cockatiel a few days ago that had a previous owner who did not want him anymore and gave him to a pet store. He always has his crest in the alert position and never wants to come out of his cage. When I do manage to get him out of his cage, he seems fine. He already knows the step-up technique, but I just don’t know how to get him out of his cage without his consent. What should I do?

  110. vasumathi srinath on September 2nd, 2011 12:25 am

    i have a pet cockatiel which is around 10 months old.He follows me around the house like a dog and recently has started making all kinds of sounds along with nodding of his head.Why does he do this?He loves to sit on our lap or shoulder.

  111. Uni on September 2nd, 2011 3:56 pm

    My cockatiel ate broccoli, what do I do? HELP!

  112. aaron on September 6th, 2011 3:33 pm

    i have a male and a female in a big cage but they dont want to get out ileave the door wide opean inside the house but they dont get out is this normal?

  113. aaron on September 6th, 2011 3:35 pm

    also they wont have eggs and they have together for 4 months

  114. Monica on September 7th, 2011 9:40 am

    hi! i just recently got a 3-4 year old untamed cockatiel from a friend. He is in the same cage with my tamed budgie and has been for 8 months or so. (my friend was keeping the budgie for me while i was away)anyway as i said he is not tame and i was just wondering, he used to hiss when i came near but now he dosnt he just opens his beak and leans forward but then sits back and pretends he was just cleaning it. Is that still a threat? i cant find info about that anywhere. Thanks!

  115. Maryann on September 12th, 2011 1:50 am

    I need to know why my male is aggressive towards the female? he’s always pecking at her & they have eggs its occasionally at night someone HELP! i dont know what to do….. Should i remove him??

  116. Shelly on September 16th, 2011 2:16 pm

    Why does my cockatiel love millet seeds so much? Even the moment I go grab the bag to get a millet spray out, both my cockatiels start going crazy!

  117. kaitlin faye on September 20th, 2011 3:39 pm

    this just helped me understand my very sweet bird 10x better!!!my bird’s name is pretty bird we cam to find out he is a male.but this just helped out ALOT!!!thanks so very much!

  118. BIRD LOVER on September 20th, 2011 6:55 pm

    great post!

  119. Michelle Mott on September 24th, 2011 10:35 am

    Really enjoyed reading this thank you =]
    I have a question if thats ok?
    I had two male cockatiels who I rescued from a friend. They were about 12 month old when I got them, my friend had had them for 6 months and they were bought from a pet shop that is all I know of the history. Sadly a few weeks ago one of them died after it was injured when flying and had to be put to sleep. They have never been tame, the one left has started to become a lot more vocal with lots of nice singing, but I was just wondering if there is any chance he will ever trust me enough to let me pet him or have him on my finger? How can I go about achieving this?

  120. SAYEED on September 26th, 2011 10:31 am


  121. Taminah on September 28th, 2011 6:47 pm

    What about what to do when you get a new bird and do not know what to do Like me right now. I got a male and he is very scared!

  122. Lisa (WildCelticRose) on October 3rd, 2011 12:30 am

    What a great resource!

    I just rescued a Cockatiel from a home with a grabby four year old.

    I haven’t had one for years and years so this is a great reminder about body language, bonding, etc…

    Merlin (renamed as the kids called him “Commando”) is settling into his new home nicely (in his cage he’s familiar with) but I’m giving it a day or two before I try to physically interact with him (he did hop on my finger in his old home, so he is tame), right now I’m just “talking pretty” to him and praising him when he verbally greets me.

    He’s set up in the living room next to where I sit, so we will interact often :)

  123. Diane C. on October 8th, 2011 5:06 pm

    Hey Doc, This site is very helpful….my question is we just brought our baby zazu of 3months old home yesterday. don’t know if it’s a boy or girl yet but he hasn’t chirped much at all yet. Is he just nervous & getting used to his new home? Also how soon should we take him for a wellness visit to the vet? Thankyou! by the way we bought him from a birdhouse not a regular pet store.

  124. Deb on October 9th, 2011 4:49 pm

    I just purchases a pair of cockatiels from a lady that has had them a year! She got them from her daughter who said that they are about two yrs. old. They seem to be a loving pair! He is so sweet and i am sure that he was a hand fed baby! She is not so willing to be trained! She paces and runs to the corner when I put my hand in the cage! He wants to get on my shoulder! I have had them for a couple of weeks now, she is still not friendly!
    Yesterday they did a little lusty dance! If she lays eggs will she let me hand feed the babies? I am concerned that she just might be a crazy lady that won’t let me get near her or the babies! I have had cockatiels in the past but never a mating pair!
    These guys won’t eat any fruit or veggies. They just eat seed and millet! I am concerned and wondering what to do!

  125. reem on October 13th, 2011 3:48 am

    hi thanx for ur information
    i have a question for you?
    i got my first cockatiel when she was 2 month old and know she is 6 month old she was a very tame cockatiel and loving she start biting me on 12 octomber like no hard biting but like when i try to put her on my finger she is like dont touch me and she always tell me to give her a scruch on her head plz help i know it is normal for them to bow there head and tell u to give them a scrutch but her when i ever tell her to come on my finger she tells me to give her a scrutch?

  126. reem on October 13th, 2011 4:16 am

    and should i seprate my male cockatiel coas since i got my male cockatiel he is my second cockatiel my first bird learnt from him he dont like to touch him coas he is wild when ever i get close to him he make a hiss noise and my first bird is starting to do that she was a very tame cockatiel?

  127. Cara on October 14th, 2011 2:01 am

    My male cockatiel, whistles a lot and often does a mating call, the female sits under his perch where he sits and “courts him” as if shes asking to mate, he doesn’t seem to be interested though. This surprises me since he does mating calls every day. i also noticed lately, she will lower her head next to him while hes grooming as if to capture his attention, but all he does when he notices her is nibble at her head aggressively then if she doesn’t move bite her foot. They haven’t been in the breeding cage to long however i just wanted to see if this was normal at first. id say they been in there only a week and a half.

  128. Theresa_clair on October 14th, 2011 10:11 pm

    Hi, I have a 11 year old Cockatiel.I got her when I was 10. I found your article to be very interesting and insightful. I was just wondering if it’s okay that she seems to get jealous when I’m around others especially my husband. Is she just wanting my attention or does she really not like him? Besides that she’s a wonderful bird, she’s never bitten and drawn blood and she always wants pets and kisses and is a serious cuddle monster ;)

  129. tammy on October 15th, 2011 11:32 am

    This is a lot of new information for me. I’ve had my “Pretty Boy” for at least 6 years. I do talk to him and he repeats certain things back to me but not everything, I do talk to him repeating words over and over again but I feel some letters he can not repeat. Is this true? As well I looked on this web site to try and understand why my bird is going down to the bottom of his cage, pecking at it for about 3 to 4 minutes or so. He doesn’t act any different than that. Can you please help me understand why he is doing that and as well I would like to learn how to interact with my bird so that I can enjoy him more. Do I need to clip the birds wings and if so how?

  130. Chris on October 16th, 2011 6:41 pm

    Just rescued a female cockatiel and her brother. The female has a plucking problem, It is so bad she only has feathers on her head and wings. There is nothing medically wrong with her, she was traumatized at one point in her young life. She is almost two. She seems like a very sweet bird and just needs lots of love. I noticed she does this really strange pacing and moving of her head and she does it all the time. When I am close by her and giving her lots of attention she seems to love it and gets really close to the bars. Her crest is completely laid flat, which means aggression but she is not hissing. My questions are, is there hope that we can get her over the plucking obsession? Do you think she is being aggressive towards us? How do we help this poor little girl?

  131. Chantelle on October 18th, 2011 2:32 pm

    My fiance’s cockatiel hates me…he tries to bite me every chance he gets. I have never been mean to him. I give him treats, clean out his cage, and give him fresh food and water. I also take off his blanket just about every morning. What can I do to get him to like me or at least not want to bite me?

  132. Chris on October 22nd, 2011 12:17 am

    This is an update on Baby Girl. She is the sweetest bird ever. We have had her a week today. When I wrote to you last week I was worried that we wouldn’t be able to help her. Just in the very short time she is acting so much better. We are giving her lots of love, a clean cage, and a very strict bedtime so she is getting 13 hours of sleep. I’m still looking for what kind of diet I can put her on. She no longer paces or hiss at us. She gives us kisses and loves to be held and talked to. She is growing feathers back, that I’m praying she won’t pluck. Are we on the right track?

  133. Michelle S. on February 6th, 2012 11:07 pm

    Hello there! Our cockatiel Koko has been with us for about 4-5 months now, and he is over two years old. He belonged to my mom’s co-worker until she had to go into surgery and couldn’t care for him anymore. Koko seems happy here, yet he has strange quirks. He doesn’t like to be touched ever, unless it’s my mom. He sits on her shoulder and rubs his face quickly across her ear or cheek, or he nibbles on her. Sometimes, however, he bites her ears hard and chirps and whistles loudly in her ear. Does he have a crush on her, or is there something else going on in the birdie brain of his?
    His also stands on top of a corner in his cage and flaps hard like he’s trying to take off. And sometimes he just seems to fall off.

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