Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Understanding Your Cockatiel: How to interpret your bird's behavior.

Cockatiels are like infants in the sense that they cannot communicate how they are feeling, what they want, or if they like or do not like something. Your bird will communicate her feelings to you through her behavior and actions, and it is up to you to learn how to interpret what she is trying to tell you.

Every bird is different, but there are some specific behaviors that almost all cockatiels use to communicate with their owners.
  • Screaming- cockatiels do this for a few different reasons: they are trying to get your attention, are afraid, or because of a change in the bird's routine. Cockatiels that are overly excited or not feeling well will scream. Screaming is considered normal when your bird does it because of danger, to call for you because they are in the other room, or after losing a mate. Loki often screams for me when I leave the room. Once I return she stops (she sure knows how to get her way).
  • Biting- your bird is afraid. It is a response to a situation the bird is in. Your bird feels uneasy, nervous, and in danger; birds use this as a last resort.
  • Hissing- your cockatiel will do this when she feels threatened, usually right before biting.
  • Making a grinding sound with its beak- cockatiels do this when they are happy. Loki does this often when she sits with me. Cockatiels also do this before they go to sleep.
  • Backing into a corner-the bird feels afraid and intimidated. The best thing to do is leave your bird alone until it comes out on its own, especially if it is a new bird.
  • Fluffing up feathers and then shaking- your bird relieves stress by doing this.
  • Fluffed up and tired all the time- your bird is sick.
  • Puffed up- your bird is cold.
  • Lifting one foot into the air- your bird is excited and wants you to take her out. Loki always does this when she wants to come out.
  • Wagging its tail- your bird is happy and in a good mood; if she does it when you are near it means she loves you.
  • Moving its crest (what I call Loki's mohawk) up and down- this is the best indication of how your bird is feeling. Birds are happy when they keep their crest relaxed, but not completely down. Aggression is marked by a crest that is completely flat on the head. A nervous or excited bird will raise its crest so that it is completely vertical.
  • Slamming toys against its cage- birds do this when they are upset. Loki does this to her duck toy when she is angry because she cannot easily get to the millet inside.
  • Sitting in food or water dish- birds do this for two different reasons: young birds do this to feel secure, while adult birds do this when they become hormonal.
  • Hanging upside down- your cockatiel feels playful and happy. Birds also do this to stretch out their wings.
These are just some basic behaviors of cockatiels; however, each bird is unique and once you get to know your bird and her personality you will learn what she is trying to tell you.

In the mornings, Loki sits on my shoulder while I clean and refill her food and water dishes. Once the water is filled I hold up the dish for her to take a sip. She drinks, sometimes one sip, other times three sips. I never move the water dish until she makes her little chirp signaling to me that she is satisfied. I have learned how to interpret Loki's behavior.

It is in the best interest of both you and your bird to learn what she is trying to tell you.

21 comments:

  1. we hav a 15 week old male cockatial he seems fine but today when i went to his cage to let him out he hissed and then started to grind his beak he also seems to be pulling at his feathers alot like he has fleas or something this is our first cockatial we hav had smaller birds before so am unsure of there habits we bought him from a reccomended bird shop specalizing in hand raised baby birds ant info would be great we just would love to see him happy

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  2. I have a 15 week male aswell and all day for the last 2 days hes being climbing his cage flat out with his crest flat, hes jumping and biting everything thats in his way! when i go up to the cage he flys towards my face with his crest back, he doesn't hiss at me unless i put my hand in the cage, hes not hand reared! why is his crest flat all the time, is he upset with me? i whistle to him and talk all the time to him, i have had him for about 5 days now. I have placed him in a busy room where we are most of the time to get him use to us but im worried hes going to be aggressive bird?

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    1. Cockatiels are not aggressive birds by nature. After a few days of adjusting to his new home he should be better.

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  3. i have a cockatiel that enjoys sitting on me during my daytime naps. sometimes he will sleep on top of me while i'm sleeping. what does this mean?

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    1. He is just as relaxed as his owner. Loki does this too. It is nothing to be concerned about.

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  4. I have an Albino Cockatiel and her name is Bella. But like you said if they are puffed up and closing their eyes. Does this mean that she is sick or does this mean that she is sleepy?she does this sometimes........and rarely

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    Replies
    1. Is there gunk in her eyes? Is she in a cold spot that is causing her to puff up?

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  5. i like how it tells all these things about cockatiels

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  6. my bird trow some green stuff in the car from it mouth what does it mean please reply i ready love my bird

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  7. your site is very helpful...I love cockatiels ...they are so sweet....

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  8. Hi, We have a had a female Cockatiel for a while now. We call her June. We then received another in July. July was timid and frightened as expected as it is a new environment (not sure what the sex is. We suspect it's a male), but was never aggressive to June until sometime in August He started picking at June whenever she came close to him and sometimes he would go close to her just to pick at her. We received a new cockatiel in the latter part of August then July started picking the feathers from out of June's head. We would seperate them at times until July calms down then place them back together. June has since laid three eggs, for the first week maybe she sat on them and became defensive towards the other birds. Dont know if those eggs will hatch. Will they? and July is still being aggressive towards both June and August. Can you explain these behaviours?

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  9. I have got two new Cockatiels and they are afraid of me.
    I want to train them without clipping their wings and one of them just keeps running in cage back and forth.
    Please Help

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  10. It's the middle of a hot summer and my cockatiel is shivering constantly. Is he sick? Or..?

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  11. My baby all the sudden is not happy unless he is on my head messing with my hair almost obsessed whast do I do

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  12. Hi I have a 5 month old female teil.
    She is super friendly and so super attached to me and my boyfriend (unfortunately more him then me :( she is supposed to be my bird hahaha)
    Anyway she is that attached to us that if she is out of her cage we cant put her on a perch and leave the room because she freaks out and then comes looking for us.. and also if we leave her in the cage and aren't in the room she just screams until we come and get her out and occasionally she will sot quietly in her cage but inly if we are in the same room...
    Any ideas on how to stop this behaviour and make comfortable enough to be out of the cage with out us?

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  13. We have a 19 year old male cockatiel and yesterday he freaked out about 5 times (flapping around his cage like crazy, out of breath and hissing), for no apparent reason. He was in a quiet room, the lights were on, and we made no sudden movements. So this seems really out of the ordinary. During one of his freak outs it looks like he may have sprained his wing. It was lower and he was flapping it for a few minutes, after about 30 minutes he looked like his normal self. After a couple hours we decided to let him out of his cage, so we could better assess his wing and behaviour. He stretched his wings, and flew on the bed, so all was looking ok. But this morning he had another freak out with hissing and now hes been in the corner bottom of his cage for the past 4 hours. Also, after his freak outs yesterday he's hardly made a sound, and hes puffed up and sleeping most of the time. We feel concerned but we're worried the vet won't do anything. It might just be old age. What do you suggest?

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  14. One of my friends gave me her male cocktaile and it scream for like 2 hours in the morning I'm new at owning a bird and it scream when I leave the room how do I fix this

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    1. Cockatiels,like all birds are the most vocal in the morning and afternoon. When you leave the room your cockatiel screams because he is looking for his flock mates,a.k.a. you. Call back to him,using the same whistle every time.

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    2. Cockatiels,like all birds are the most vocal in the morning and afternoon. When you leave the room your cockatiel screams because he is looking for his flock mates,a.k.a. you. Call back to him,using the same whistle every time.

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  15. I have just gotten 2 rescues..How can I help them not to be afraid? I've had hand feed cockatiels in the past that we very friendly..I just want them to know they are safe now..What can I do to help them?

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