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General Info
Ten Things
The Bird Cage
Cage Placement




Mutual Preening
Lowers Head
Standing on One Leg
Beak Grinding
Shaking Feathers
Fluffing Feathers
Night Frights

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Cockatiel Behaviors

A cockatiel may do many things to amuse you and even some things that are perplexing.

The Crest

Your cockatiels crest can tell a lot about its emotions. By observing the crest being raised and lowered you will know how your cockatiel reacts to certain things and in different situations. If the crest is almost flat with the tip pointing upward, the cockatiel is calm and relaxed. When the crest is vertical the bird is interested. By having its crest raised as far as it can go forward the cockatiel is showing it may be tense or concentrating. If it is afraid, anxious or upset the crest will be snapped back and the cockatiel may even hiss or try to bite you.


Preening is the act of cleaning and aligning a bird's plumage. A cockatiel will spend hours of each day preening. It will draw each of its feathers through its beak, removing all the dust and dirt. The cockatiel then oils and smoothes out each of its many feathers. A cockatiel has a gland hidden in its feathers on its lower back above the tail. The beak extracts a substance from this oil gland and applies it throughout its plumage. This oil is used to keep the feathers supple and waterproof. A cockatiel's feathers must be clean, dry and free of raggedness for it to function properly. Feathers regulate their body temperatures.

Mutual Preening

Two or more birds may preen each other if they live in pairs or groups. This act reinforces bonds and helps preen feathers that are out of reach. It is very cute to watch as they roll their heads on each other to clean their crests. If you are the one your cockatiel would like to preen with it will want to preen your hair. This shows that your cockatiel considers you worth while.

Lowers Head at You

A cockatiel will lower its head at you if it trusts you. It means that the cockatiel is allowing you to pet its head. Pet your cockatiel softly. Cockatiels enjoy their feathers to be gently ruffled upward, not smoothed down. Cockatiels enjoy having their cheeks, ears, head and crest preened by you. Figure out which is your cockatiel's favorite spot and it will love you even more!

Standing on One Leg

If you see a cockatiel standing on one leg it is a good sign. Only a healthy cockatiel can stand on one leg, so it indicates good health. When cockatiels are comfortable and content they will sleep or stand on the perch with one leg and tuck the other up close to its body. Resting on one leg relaxes the other by taking the weight off. It's a bird's way of being cozy while resting. At night their body temperature is lower so a cockatiel brings its foot up into the warmth of its belly to conserve heat.


A cockatiel will stretch when it is finished with an activity. It may be after a nap or when it is finished preening, either way it means the cockatiel is feeling relaxed. This is the perfect time to spend with your cockatiel. When the bird stretches it will stretch one leg and one wing and then repeat on the other side.

Beak Grinding

If you hear your cockatiel grinding their beak it is a good sign. Beak grinding is something they do to get ready for a nap or sleep for the night. It means they are content.


Cockatiels hiss and bite into the air when they feel threatened or are very scared. You should leave your bird alone for awhile so it will calm down. If you are doing something to cause your cockatiel to do this you should stop or it may end up being scared of you all the time. Try not to put your hand near a hissing cockatiel as it may bite. The more frightened it is the harder the bite. Your cockatiel may also fluff up its feathers to seem bigger than it actually is. It is trying to scare you away!

Shaking Feathers

After a cockatiel preens it will shake vigorously to get rid of dust that may still be left. This gesture also returns each feather to its proper place. You can hear a rustling sound if you listen close enough! Fluffing up its feathers then shaking them may mean your cockatiel is relieving tension.

Fluffing Feathers

A cockatiel's fluffed up feathers trap heat close to its body. It locks the air inside the spaces between the feathers. The trapped warm air and the feathers preserve the cockatiel's body temperature by not allowing cooler air to get to its skin. It is not normal for a cockatiel to be fluffed up for long periods of time unless it is sleeping at night. If a cockatiel is ill it may try to keep its body temperature high by remaining fluffed up. Consult a vet if your cockatiel stays fluffed up during the day for a long period of time. Avoid using a space heater as they release fumes that may be harmful to your bird.


When a cockatiel sneezes it is clearing its nasal passages. It may do it several times a day. If you see discharge from its nostrils consult a vet.


A cockatiel will yawn because it has an oxygen shortage. Cockatiels kept indoors are exposed to home air pollution and stale air. Provide fresh air when possible. It is a very good idea to purchase an air cleaner for your cockatiels room. This will help in many ways!

Night Frights

Cockatiels are known to have night frights more than any other bird. They become afraid of a noise or vibration and jump off their perch and thrash around the bottom and sides of the cage. Feathers can get broken and begin to bleed. They can also hurt their wings, legs, feet and etc. The loud thrashing can be frightening for an owner also. But as soon as you hear your cockatiel have a night fright you should get up and quickly turn on a light in the bird's room. Speak softly to your cockatiel and look over its body for any injuries. Purchasing a night-light is the best way to prevent night frights from happening. An automatic night-light is the perfect choice, it is always plugged in and comes on automatically when it is dark. Giving them a night-light will help them see what is going on it the room and not freak out!

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