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Everything You Want to Know About Cockatiels as Pets!

I have two adorable cockatiels and share my experience with them here.

The Cockatiel

A well-known secret of every cockatiel owner is that these birds are just as companionable as dogs or cats, and have unique personalities that can be read by their expressive faces. My first experience with a cockatiel was when I was a young teenager, starting out down my neighborhood street for a walk. I was astonished to hear a unique bird call—like a parrot, or a tropical bird, I thought—so I followed my ears to a pigeon-sized gray bird who was pecking at gravel in the gutter. He ran towards me when I came closer. I knew he had to be someone's pet bird, as his orange blush and yellow crest set him apart from every other wild bird I knew of, and his eagerness to see me showed me that he was tame. His face was bright and intelligent. He looked me in the eye and tipped his head to figure me out.

I carried him home and put him under a large salad spinner with some seeds and apples, then led a crusade of neighborhood kids to ring doorbells and inquire until we could find the owner. Different people gave us different clues, but we were eventually led to people who knew other people who had birds, and finally we ended up at the home of the owner of "Kiwi," the name of their lost cockatiel. They were thrilled to be reunited with their chipper little bird, and they rewarded me with a twenty dollar bill and an armful of TY Beanie Babies. Kiwi was a cute little bird, and I loved how openly and winningly he interacted with his owners. Maybe, someday, I would get my own little Kiwi to have and to hold, I thought.

This one was looking me in the eye and squeaking/scolding as I took his picture.

This one was looking me in the eye and squeaking/scolding as I took his picture.

Cockatiels as Pets

Several years later, a friend called me and asked if I'd be interested in "adopting" two cockatiels her neighbor owned, but couldn't keep because of increasing commitments at work. I was happy to take them and instantly loved the little fluff balls for their expressive faces and expressive voices.

I have really enjoyed having these cockatiels as pets in our home! They are very observant about what is happening around them, and in our busy household, there is much for them to comment on, with soft little "oh!" sounds when somebody opens a door or sneezes. Everybody loves a pet that's cuddly, and these cockatiels are no exception! They bow their heads for a neck rub, and if they're trusting and contented, even let us wrap our hands around them and "snuggle" them. They even purr, in their own way. As the thick mane of feathers around their necks are rubbed, they make gentle simpering sounds showing they are enjoying the attention.

Pet cockatiels love looking out the window. You'll notice them perk up and raise their "interested" crest when a car drives up or someone walks by.

Pet cockatiels love looking out the window. You'll notice them perk up and raise their "interested" crest when a car drives up or someone walks by.

This pearl cockatiel is addicted to head rubs.

This pearl cockatiel is addicted to head rubs.

What Sounds Do Cockatiel Make?

Cockatiel Screaming

The one thing all cockatiel-owners agree is the worst is the shrill screaming that cockatiels do when they want attention. It's a piercing "HEY!" sound. We've found it's worst when we get home after being gone all day, because our cockatiels feel they deserve a "hello" from each family member before they can settle down and be quiet. Cockatiels also get cranky when they are hungry, and their voices take on a whiny, shrill edge.

Cockatiels Talking Like Humans

Most male cockatiels can learn to say a few human words quite effectively, such as "hello" or "pretty bird," and once they learn these words you will often hear them trying to contribute to your conversations by inserting the words they know into the hubbub of talking. They also like to imitate the sound of a conversation even if they can't pick out any words they know in what you're saying. They'll end up elucidating something like this: "ja jickit chick ja chree chu jra" because that's what they think they hear you saying. In general, female cockatiels do not talk or sing (this is the case with most pet birds), but they find other ways to express themselves.

Cockatiels Talking Like Cockatiels

Cockatiels also "talk" in their own language, which you will soon learn, as they are very vocal animals and have a different response to almost everything that happens around them. The most common cockatiel sound is like a question, and sounds like "guack" in "guacamole," with intonation like this: "Guak?" or "Graurk?" We often feel the need to answer them with "Yes, that's right!" or "No, nothing to worry about," because we are sure they are asking us for information! The other cockatiel sound mentioned earlier is the little "oh!" sound that they do when they see or hear something happen, especially if we set them in view of the window where they can look outside. They love commenting on the wind blowing the trees ("oh!") or when they see other birds flying by ("oh!").

Cockatiel Singing

Our male cockatiel is also an accomplished singer, and starts every morning with running around in circles on the roof of his cage while whistling "The Popcorn Song" from the 70s at the top of his lungs. It's really a very pretty voice that cockatiels have, and we'd much prefer him to sing than to scream any day. Teaching our cockatiel to sing a new tune has been difficult, however, because he incorporates the tune from the first song he learned with the rhythm of the new song we're teaching him, and most the time it sounds like his own made-up off-key theme song.


Most male cockatiels learn wolf whistles at a very young age because they love the reaction they get after they do it! Our male cockatiel wolf whistles at the girls in our house whenever he first sees them that day because he knows they will melt and give him all the attention he wants!

Unpleasant Cockatiel Sounds

How to Train a Cockatiel

Cockatiels can easily be tamed to love sitting on fingers and shoulders. As with taming any bird, it is a matter of trust. Patient, gentle, and slow-moving people can quickly earn a cockatiel's trust, while loud people who make spontaneous movements will be looked at suspiciously and avoided. Cockatiels are very observant, and notice differences of smells or appearance in people, which inform them that there is somebody nearby that they do not know or trust. I have one cockatiel who will never let me pet him if I'm wearing long sleeves because of something strange on the hand that's coming toward him.

It is best to buy cockatiels who are already finger-tamed because they've been hand-fed as babies. These cockatiels are the ones who already know they want attention from people, and they will be that much closer to trying to imitate you when you talk or whistle, because communicating with you is important to them.

How to Train a Cockatiel to Whistle

To train a cockatiel to talk or whistle, choose a time when your cockatiel is most "obsessed" about you. You will see him eagerly lean towards you, and he will watch your mouth as you talk, even opening his beak repetitively or clicking his tongue against his upper beak as if trying to imitate you. This is the prime time to repeat over and over to him whatever it is that you want him to learn! Your attention is the best reward he can receive, so make sure to reward him with plenty of petting and praise when he gets it right!

How to Interpret Cockatiel Behavior and Body Language

Learn to read the body language of your cockatiel:

  • Crest (mohawk) up: Scared or excited.
  • Thin & skinny body, tight feathers, eyes wide, standing tall and still: Scared.
  • Thin & skinny body, tight feathers, running back and forth or bobbing head: Excited.
  • Shoulders out, head raised, crest up, rocking back and forth on both legs, hissing (Sounds like a puff of air-- "huhf" "huhf"): Scared or angry and trying to intimidate you by acting big.
  • Shoulders out in a heart shape, singing or pacing (usually male): Happy and entertaining himself.
  • Hanging on to the cage or perch flapping but not flying anywhere: Exercising wings.
  • Sitting on one leg, puffy body, making grinding/crackling sound with beak: Sleepy and contented, and keeping beak trim.
  • Sitting with eyes closed, puffy body, on one leg, sometimes with head tucked under back wing: Sleeping.
  • Ruffling feathers: Sometimes is as "sigh" of relief after something scary has happened, other times it is to settle feathers in place and fling dandruff off after preening.
  • Continually ruffled feathers, dull eyes, lethargic, sitting on floor of cage, inactive, uninterested in playing or eating: Your bird is sick and should be kept warm and/or taken to a veterinarian.
We got this cockatiel when he was young and impressionable. He had been hand-fed as a chick, so he loves humans and lets his favorite humans hold him tightly like this.

We got this cockatiel when he was young and impressionable. He had been hand-fed as a chick, so he loves humans and lets his favorite humans hold him tightly like this.

Both crests are up on these birds, so you can tell that they see something interesting happening outside.

Both crests are up on these birds, so you can tell that they see something interesting happening outside.

How Long Is a Cockatiel's Life Span?

Cockatiels generally live longer than parakeets, but not as long as parrots. What is the average lift span of a cockatiel? Breeders and veterinarians say 12 to 18 years is a typical life span for a cockatiel. As they grow older, they will often get pudgier and have feathers that are not as smoothly and evenly layered. Some cockatiels even struggle with baldness under their wings or on the tops of their heads, but it is only noticeable if you stroke the feathers back.

What's Happening to My Cockatiel's Feathers?

Similar to dogs ad cats, all pet birds go through a time of molting. Molting is when they "shed" their old feathers and grow new ones. You may notice that there are sometimes more feathers at the bottom of the cage than at other times. This is because your cockatiel is shedding its old feathers and growing new ones. When a cockatiel grows new feathers, each feather starts out as a funny-looking white "spike" that grows out of it, in between the feathers. This happens all over its body, but is most noticeable on its face. Don't worry—it's perfectly normal and natural! As the new feather spikes grow longer, the spike part of the feather comes off as a "shell" around the brand new feather. By the time a cockatiel is done molting, his feathery coat will be thick and plush because of all the new feathers.

Do Cockatiels Get Dandruff?

Cockatiels are one of the most dandruffy pet birds there are, and you'll often see a puff of dandruff after they preen. Some people are allergic to the dandruff, so consider finding out if that will be a problem before you commit to owning a cockatiel.

Cockatiel Names

The most common cockatiel names are "Kiwi," "Tweety," "Buddy," "Lucky," "Princess," "Rocky," "Lucky," "Sunny," "Max," "Peaches." If you'd like to be more creative or unusual with your choice of name, observe your bird for a few days before you name it in order to figure out what type of personality it has. You might consider naming it after a character in a book or movie or a fun favorite food, or giving it a name that suits its temperament. Many people choose names related to the coloring of their birds (orange or yellow), and foods or flowers that match. Here's an article full of cute and funny bird names to choose from.

Female Pearl Cockatiel

Female Pearl Cockatiel

Pearl Cockatiel

The female cockatiel we own is a pearl-mutated cockatiel, which means she has flecks of white or light yellow color on her back and head, almost like a speckled chicken. Technically, pearl cockatiels are mutated, but the only physical problem they seem to have from being mutated is baldness under the crest of their head and generally thinner feathers on the back of the neck. Other than that, the pearl-mute is very pretty for its variation in color and its "flecked" look.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Questions & Answers

Question: During the night, our cockatiel falls off his perch, and is disorientated - flapping around in a circle. My husband talks quietly to him, and eventually, he calms down, and breaths normal again? Do you know what is going on with him?

Answer: He is probably having dreams or nightmares, or perhaps something is startling him awake. It’s always a good idea to cover your cockatiel’s cage with a blanket at night so that it is dark and light and sound won’t disturb him as much.

Question: Is it normal for my cockatiels tail feathers to be falling out and be always on the side instead of behind?

Answer: Yes, it is perfectly normal for that to happen to a caged bird, especially if their cage isn’t huge and their tail is bumping into toys or bars all the time.

Question: Can we keep cockatiels out of their cage?

Answer: If you have a safe place for them to live and don’t mind the mess, then yes.

Question: My cockatiels feathers aren't losing their casing. Is there anything I can do to help?

Answer: Just be patient. It may look funny, but there is nothing wrong with this.


Brian O'Regan on August 21, 2020:

I purchased a cocoatiel 3 days ago anfd it is not eating. Is this normal?

Garry on June 07, 2020:

Dear Sir /Madam I have this little lorikeet Best thing since sliced bread times 10 only 5 months old I/ve had for 3months THOUGH every day since I/ve had her Don/t if/s because she/s tired or molting or both she/l turn on you like a bullagate head down and ared flag in front of her goes beserk head thrashing up qand down and biting Please help aslo ssaving my life lonliness depression alcohol smoking she/s saving mylife Kind Regards Garry

Roser13 on May 16, 2020:

Hi everyone. I have a question. My 2 month old female tiel has been hand fed and had a bad foot. She couldn't walk or perch. When we adopted her i had to reconstruct the cage for her so she can walk around the bottom of the cage. Her food would be on the bottom as well. She couldn't really walk. She would scurry along with one foot and her beak. She kept on getting stuck on my clothes with her nails. I decided to take her to the vet and they trimmed her nails. I started to rehabilitate her lil foot by having her perch on my finger and holding a perch so that her foot could wrap around and get strength. Thank God she doing so much better. But here goes my question....i spoil her and i have a cage full of toys and perches (low in cage) she has a hard time still climbing, but she's trying and i try not to baby her too much. But the problem is, she's starting to get aggressive with me and not want to be around me or come away from her cage. It's a great set up, toys swings,chewy things. She can go out 4 different ways and play. She has alot of room. Do you think i have her too comfortable? Too many toys? Every night i have a hard time putting her to sleep because she doesn't want to go in. I'm starting to put her to bed at 8pm now. I just want my cuddly babygirl back to being sweet. Please help. Thank you and sorry so long and my writing isn't too good.

Samantha on May 10, 2020:

How do I know if my bird is about to lay an egg

Horatio.Everley on April 22, 2020:

6431 Caldwell Mill Ave

Tina 1947 on March 04, 2020:

I received my male cockatiel when my mother in law passed away. He is 23 years old, has never been handled, did not have any type of toys in his cage all of his life, including a swing. He now has toys and a swing, but he screeches if you put your hand in the cage, so messing with him is out. I do not want to give him any stress because of his age. I do notice that during the day, he goes to the bottom of his cage in a particular corner and just sits there with his eyes closed. On occasion, he will whistle. Do I need to put something in that corner he could rest on like a nest? His previous owner never did cover him up at night. Since I now have him, he is covered up at night. He does come to my side of his cage and starts a strange whistle while looking at me, so that means he wants to be covered up and go to bed. So that is a start in our relationship.

Amber on December 29, 2019:

I’ve been trying to make make cockatiel step up for around 8 months now and no matter how I try he will find a way to escape, is there any other techniques into teaching your cockatiel to trust you and step up?

Rachel on December 07, 2019:


Our bird was like that. "Caving" aka wanting to go under or in enclosed spaces enourages raging hormones. We had to stop him from going to these places and it lessens the crankiness.

rochelle on November 04, 2019:

This was a very helpful article one of the most informative I have found during my research as I am getting ready to receive my own baby male cinnamon cockatiel!

Fraannn1 on October 10, 2019:

My normally delightful little cockatiel “Bucky” is 1 1/2 years old.. We raised him from when he was 3 weeks old. He is out of his cage all his waking hours. He has gone from a sweet little guy to spending his hours guarding What he has decided is his nesting area (under my husband’s recliner). He used to be so sweet and come to us anytime we are near him. Now he bites us when we come near him. We understand it is a hormonal thing, but are there any suggestions you can give to us as to how to deal with this. Also, can you tell us how long this will probably go on?

Adria Sorensen on October 01, 2019:

for wild birds, window collisions are dangerous or even deadly. how were you able to make the windows safe for them to look out of? or did you train or show them to make it safer for them to look outside the window?

mrenteria on September 17, 2019:

My cockatiel sings but not too often, i mainly see him relaxing in one spot most of the day(if not moved) and his body gets all fluffed up. Should I be concerned if this is a constant everyday thing?

Other than that he eats well and everything

melody on July 28, 2019:

my cockatiel always hissing and bites I've talked to him quietly done everything hes still so mean

Mohan gunathilake on June 15, 2019:

My cocatiel is two and half months now.one day he felldown when he trying to fly.he broke his one leg then.we took medicine but it's not ok.and now he cant stand his both legs.what happend,and what i can do?

Thank you

dorothy on June 12, 2019:

hi how are you

James on June 06, 2019:

Our cockatiel is suddenly talking after months of not talking. What causes this

Chad on May 24, 2019:

For about a week now. When ever I go near my bird she plays a lot with her bell and screams at me. I give her kisses and I whistle to her.

She screams at me. She screams at me and Makes a pitch noise when I try give her attention. Please I don’t know what to do.

Maree on April 13, 2019:

I have a cockatiel who. Sleeping with me in my flat to talk were ti is

Stom and thunder she lovegoing in the car on hisbirday and

Holiday were ti iscrstmasr and easter as well idea houses doby pet store toget my seed wn

Pat Cabrera on March 25, 2019:

I got a cockatiel two days ago who is now sitting on the floor of the cage he was fine last night what can I do to help him?

steve nn on March 23, 2019:

when should a 4 month old cockatiel be placed with older birds? since our 2o year old grey bananas just lost his mate after 19 years due do what seems egg noting and bled out before we got home, he looked at the bird sideways both ways with his wings extended but looked afraid, the night before when he lost his mate he was overly silent until the morning and seemed to either was calling out for her or whining but showed no aggression towards the 4 month old baby

ella on March 19, 2019:

do they have mites on them and do they need a bath everyday mine want eat nothing but what i bought him frist time i try something new he want eat also he pulls is feathers here lately im more conern about his mites if he has them or do they get them what do u do to get rid them

Franyeliz Cintron on March 19, 2019:

Hi! , I resently bought my grandma a pet cockatiel (we don’t know what the gender is yet) and I was conserned about having my male cockatiel meet her/him . I just wanted to know what the risks are of having them meet even if is a one time thing .

neville johns on February 25, 2019:

why is my 5 month old cockatiel crying like he wants to be hand fed

Tara M on January 23, 2019:

MichelleAnnee : You should try your best to not allow cockatiels to breed/reproduce in your home unless you can interviene and feed the chicks yourself, with a warm brooder as well. There is a lot to know about handfeeding the babies, and most people learn from a breeder before trying it out on their own. I strongly suggest helping a local breeder before breeding your own parrots/ cockatiels. Birds in captivity sometimes breed because hormones tell them to, but , that doesn't mean they will get along as a couple to raise their young properly.

Tara M on January 23, 2019:

Colleen : Taking the eggs away is bad for cockatiels because then they lay more to replace them. Purchase some cockatiel dummy eggs and replace them that way. Put the eggs in the freezer and then giving back is another way to prevent hatching. Always seperate fighting parrots. They may calm down after they are not as hormonal. Leave fake eggs with the mother until she stops laying on them and loses interest (2-6 weeks) . Give them 12-14 hours of sleep every night, give them new toys weekly and move their cages around if possible during hormonal season, to help them curb their hormones quicker. When they are less hormonal, re-introduce them outside of their cage until they get along then u can put them in the same cage together again.

colleen d male on November 26, 2018:

please can you help. in july we purchased two male birds born in april this year, it turns out to be one boy one girl. she has laid ten eggs. we really dont want other but if we take the eggs away she replaces them. also the boy has become very agressive toward her, fighting and meaning it, she has bleed from his attacks, so we have seperated them, now leaving her to sit on eggs by her self, what do we do please, do we leave them seperated, and is there any way to get her to give up sitting on eggs. i dont want her to get thin. she is the most beautiful little gentle bird. the boy is a fabulous talker already . what next do we do please.

Melissa on November 20, 2018:

My friendly ands tame cockatiel is an awesome boy, but whenever my dad's cockatiel comes over, he starts going crazy trying to get to him/her. And when i let him fly to her/his cage he of course is happy and sings merrily. The problem is when i go to get him and put him back in his cage he gets very rough with me and tries to bite hard. Should i let him see him/her until he gets it out of his system or should i keep him away from him/her? Thanks!

Maree Donna hall on November 09, 2018:

I have a cockatile who sleep with me by my bed for safe and talk a lost and l cover at 830 were l going to bed turn of the lights at nighttime and she friends cockatile as well and like the weather and a bath she don’t like thenose

MichelleAnnee on October 18, 2018:

Hello. My cockatiel had laid eggs and one hatched but it died the next day assuming it didn't get feed. And then another egg hatched and I saw the parents feeding it & on the third day it died. I could see the seeds in it's stomach/crop I'm not sure if it's cause the parents are overfeeding the baby or something about the parents not taking care of the baby right. It hurts seeing each baby chick die. Any advice? The cage is in my room with warm temperature and a blanket over the cage at night

ghassem moghaddam on August 28, 2018:

Hi my cockatiel charly die few days ago and I adapted a younger one we call it gogooly first one was in our home since 1 years old and lasted for 24 years,had broken leg 6 month earlier,cost $ 1300.00 but was not the same when came home now gogooly is very stressed and when we live the charly near him keep looking and say nothing what I do please can you help me ,my sister crying too.

zoey on August 23, 2018:

do cockatiels like the things (bars for them to stand on) in their cage to be moved?

Madison on August 19, 2018:

can cockateils live alone or do they need a buddy?

Jayde Ramirez on July 23, 2018:

I have a cockatiel and she only likes the men that walk into the house. We’ve had her for a year or two and I’m surprised she still doesn’t trust me or any other female in the house.

Sandy on July 06, 2018:


Our Cockatiels both talk. We have a male and a female. They will say love you and what are you doing. They whistle the wolf whistle. They have a little song they sing. They chirp to each other.

Blessings & Love & God Bless Always,


Ann Leavitt (author) from Oregon on May 22, 2018:

Hi Carolann! I had a cockatiel that was nervous and itchy and had the other cockatiel pull all the feathers out of the back of her neck. I'm wondering if your cockatiel is feeling the same way. If it were me, I'd try gently massaging some vitamin e oil or coconut oil on the bare skin above his nose to help keep the itch down.

Carolann on May 22, 2018:

Hi everyone, my cockatiel keeps rubbing his head on his ladder and his mirror and his tiny feathers above his nose are all gone,,would anyone know what that's all about,?????

Dani on May 06, 2018:

Hi friends i have a cocktail couple,they laid 4 eggs a month ago.There are no babies still and they have started sex again.what can i do in this situation?

Plzzz help me.U can text me at 03022014685

pearli smith on February 28, 2018:


i have a gorgeous male cockatiel that is called chebo. He's about 15 months old and he is super friendly and fun but the only problem is that he keeps on breaking & bending his tail feathers until he's only got about 2 or 3 of them left, I was just wondering if he's maybe lacking something or it's just normal?

- thanx

Sharron Armstrong on January 03, 2018:

I lost my little two year old girl two days ago and she laid eggs my male has taken on the roll almost weeks laying on the eggs no that she’s gone, he Layed on them Tuesday night but last night slept in his cage will the eggs still b good or is he morning her death ?, they had the eggs in my closet please tell me what to do for my male angle he is three now and I Love him as he’s my child and what do I shut my closet? It’s been over 12 hours that he had been out of closet and away from the eggs Thank u

Emily on November 25, 2017:

my cockatiel is about 12 yrs.old and he keeps on picking at himself and squealing what to do

stacie on November 02, 2017:

Jeremy Carpenter, why would you allow your 'tiels to fly outside? They are in danger of predators, like hawks. We had a friend who had a conure who was clipped. They used to take him outside on the deck with them. A hawk swooped down and gutted him right in front of their eyes. Probably not a good idea

Susan on September 04, 2017:

I have just adopted a girl cockatiel, for 2 days now she has not moved from her perch and I have not seen her eat or drink? I have her large cage up against 2 walls, and cover her at night with a night light. I hope she is getting some sleep. ? What can I do to get her to eat, she is not even interested in millet. She came form a place that she was never in a cage and had company of other birds. I have several bird too, so she should not be lonely. I hope I will not loose her by not eating? Suggestions please.

Mary Finlay on March 04, 2017:

Our Cockatiel is nearly 20 and his name is Spike - can't imagine why that isn't one of the most common names! He used to whistle 6 separate tunes very clearly, but as of 5-6 years ago they are all jumbled up into a flow of pleasant-sounding notes that have no continuity or melody.

Sandie on February 22, 2017:

Will my cockateil eventually let me touch him? He is 6 months old ,I have him a month now and he doesn't want my hand in the cage near him much

Anna on November 06, 2016:

Babysitting Cockatiels, Lucy and Grey, male and female, didn't take long for them to like it here, my neighbor offfered them to me, no thanks, will babysit when he needs to travel, good pets, they cuddle each other, make out like humans, nice seeing love in the air in your own home, and they go back to their cage, fly like cray in my apatment and land on my shoulders/head, or go to cage to eat, like them beautiful birds, have to clean their droppings but not too bad, I am their aunty if my nabe needs to leave, I will babysit them again, well behaved birds, no hard time, cleaned cage daily, kept cage better than its owner but I like being without animals etc. when I retire one day will take dog, cat, bird the whole nine yards, for now happy pet free.

John on July 10, 2016:

Why does my cockatiel tuck his head under my chin ( kind of like cuddling ) but yet won't let me pet him ?

Jerry carpenter on June 09, 2016:

We actually let our cockatiels fly around outside. They almost always come back. But once in awhile like two days ago one will wonder off. We just post on fb and someone usually ends up finding them. We love our Tebow and Gracie.

Mand on May 01, 2016:

I love my bird to bits and I never really wanted one to start with.

Anne on April 21, 2016:

Can my cockatiel 'Tieka' smell my presence?

Ann Leavitt (author) from Oregon on March 23, 2015:

Hi Cheryl,

Are you sure your cockatiel is actually eating their whiskers? I have known birds to pluck out other birds' feathers when the other bird "asks" them too (my Tornate did that to Rosie-- she would bug him until he would pull a feather out of her neck). Usually he just rolled the feather in his mouth and then dropped it.

I know that birds don't get hairballs like cats do, but if you are sure your cockatiel is eating the hairs, then I would watch its droppings to see if the hair is leaving its digestive system. I'm not a vet, obviously, but that's what I would do!

Terra Simpson on March 18, 2015:

I recently got an adorable cockatiel. I've learned a lot just by reading information.

Cheryl on March 16, 2015:

hi, we have a 6mth old cockatiel who is very affectionate but he likes to groom my hubby & son by plucking out their facial whiskers. Is this harmful to the bird? I was worried that he is digesting them & may possibly get a hair ball.

Your advice will be greatly appreciated.

Mitzi Palmer on October 03, 2014:

hello I am so confused I just got my bird cockatiel 3 years old buddy is his name I I think he was abused before I got him but I had patience and got him to sit on my finger then my shoulder then I switched food and I noticed he started eating the paper towel in the bottom and pickng his stand and then all the sudden he mean he wants to bite you can't get even close to him w/o him freaking out and hollaring, but he will still say pretty bird pretty bird but hes not even the same little fella. : (

What shld I do anyone ? Thanx!

Ann Leavitt (author) from Oregon on February 25, 2014:

Hello Dawn,

The best chance you have for taming your 2 cockatiels is to put them in separate cages, in separate rooms of your house. When a bird has the companion of another bird, there is little you can do to convince him that he needs to bond with you! But when he is lonely, and young (18 months is still fairly young), he is more tamable. (Another tip is to keep mirrors out of the cage, as birds love to "flirt" with their own reflections. Then, be patient, move slowly and quietly, just like you would do with a wild bird, and offer a food that you know they want (sprigs of dried millet is the best for it.). Let me know how it goes!

After they are tamed separately, you can put them back together again, which they will love. And they will still love you.


dawn barker on February 17, 2014:

ive been offered 2 males who are about 18 months old but not tame ..what chance do i have of tameing them

Ann Leavitt (author) from Oregon on January 22, 2014:

Hi Sunshine1313,

There could be a few reasons Crackle is fluffed up. The first thing you want to rule out is if she is ill. Does she seem listless, are her eyes dull, does she have runny poop or any discharges on her eyes or nose?

Another reason could be the fact that she excited to have Baxter near her. Birds do funny things when other birds are around, and it usually isn't territorial. She might be goo-goo eyed about Baxter, just like she used to be googoo over her toys and mirrors.

Sunshine1313 on December 16, 2013:

Hello, I really loved your article. I have two cockatiels. One is a female, Crackle. And the other, Baxter who is a male, I just on Sunday. I was wondering why my girl, Crackle is all fluffed up. Ever since I got Baxter she hasn't been playing with her toys and has been at the front of her cage on a perch looking at him and is really fluffed up. The two are in separate cages next to each other so that they can get used to one another. Any advice/help?

thomas on December 15, 2013:

i have one and he is a little irrogent at times but i know that he seams lonely and that the way i love about him

zane faillace-garren on November 04, 2013:

i didn't know it but my female cockatiel named sky is a perl mutated cockatiel, atleast it fits the description so yeah...

Ann Leavitt (author) from Oregon on October 24, 2013:

Hi Andrew,

All the times I've travelled, my birds have always remembered me when I came home and have been super excited to see me. I don't think you'll have any trouble on that account, if you have built up a good relationship with your little bird right now.

The friend who has birds sounds like a good situation, though you may want to make sure that the birds will be in separate cages and if they do interact outside of the cage, make sure that they won't fight with each other and get possessive over their territory.

Andrew Grego on October 19, 2013:

hi i have a question about my little man being baby sat for a month, my partner is going away for a month and i work away a week at a time so we are wondering about baby sitting him at a friends who also has birds, our questions are, how will he cope being separated from us? will he remember us after a whole month ?

any info will help

we are going through a rang of options, from transporting him to where my partners is, to taking him with me which would not be ideal

Ann Leavitt (author) from Oregon on September 25, 2013:


That is a pretty common problem with cockatiels. One thing that we have found helpful is to have the cockatiels in a part of the house where we spend most of our time. Not a kitchen, as there can be harmful fumes, but in a bedroom or office where one of us spends a lot of time. One thing that is heplful is to give them attention when they are not screeching, (only occasionally though), and to ignore them or shut the door of the room they are in, when they are screeching. What your cockatiel really demands is attention, but they can be more demanding the more attention you give them.

Simone on September 12, 2013:

Hi there. We have a georgous little yellow hand raised cockatiel who is so friendly and happy He/ she just cruises around our house as he pleases and loves hanging out with us. Every time were sitting at the table eating or especially first thing in the morning, when my youngest gets Benny (the tiel) , he won't stop making this s reaching noise. Like a baby bird waiting too be fed by his mumma.

Is there anything I can do for him. Or is he in pai or lacking something. Thanx in advance.

Ann Leavitt (author) from Oregon on September 03, 2013:

Hi Amanda,

My birds occasionally peck at my hands too. Usually it is related to them feeling teased or assaulted by my hands, like if someone has been poking at them with their fingers or trying to tickle them without getting bit. Actions like this will make your cockatiel think that it has to defend itself or its cage against "the hand." The best way to overcome this is to work on having your cockatiel only associate good things with your hands: feeding, petting, gentle handling. Try holding your hand out for it to eat out of your hand, and don't make any sudden motions.

The "pecking" that doesn't actually hurt is your cockatiel's way of saying, "no, I don't like that." It's not, "no, I hate you," just "I don't want that right now." Sometimes it's because your cockatiel was just resting and it's not in the mood to play or be petted. And that's okay! Let your cockatiel rest and then try again when he or she is acting like she wants to play.

Amanda on August 28, 2013:

Hi Jane, pepper is getting on my hands a lot now but she is always pecking them as well as her cage, she does not hurt but it is nearly all the time when she is on my fingers, is this normal. I am trying to get her to step up but she attacks my hand anytime i try to put my fingers near her feet to step up

Ann Leavitt (author) from Oregon on August 27, 2013:

HI Amanda, it sounds like you've made great progress! I'm guessing that maybe the reason she is attaching the millet is that she doesn't recognize it, and that it might look scary. Ditch that idea! It sounds like she is warming up to you a lot, and if you continue the way you have been, she'll soon enjoy being on your hand.

Amanda on August 27, 2013:

Hi Jane, thxs for the response, well pepper today was pacing bk and forwards at her cage door as she could hear the wild birds outside my house, i opened the door and placed my hand near her feet, she pecked at them a little bit but then she hopped on, i then placed my other arm near my fingers as she did not have a steady perch, she was happy to be on my arm until i tried to get her bk into her cage, she attacked my arm a bit until she went onto a perch, i did not grab her with my hands as i did not want to make her scared of them. I was so excited and happy :D I have tried her with millet a couple of times but she just attacks it.

Ann Leavitt (author) from Oregon on August 26, 2013:

Hi Amanda,

A hand-tamed baby can sometimes act that way around people she doesn't know. If you have any millet, that is a good training tool to tame her to her knew owner. Hold the millet and slowly approach her. Being slow and quiet is really important! Let her gradually get used to eating out of your hand until she is ready to trust you to hold her and pet her. It will come! Just be patient and move slowly. It will be easier to tame her to yourself than if you were taming her for the first time.

Amanda on August 23, 2013:

hi, i got my first white faced cockatiel, it is a 8 week old female and i got her two days ago. Since i have put her in her cage she hisses when my hand gets to close to her, but this morning when i came into the room to talk to her, her head followed me and lowered as well, but as soon as i went to open the cage she hissed at me. Is this common behaviour for a hand tamed baby? thxs

Ann Leavitt (author) from Oregon on August 05, 2013:

Hi Mezzymoo,

I wouldn't get him a companion yet. If you don't train a bird to like you before there's another bird in the cage, he probably won't learn after.

As for his eating habits, I'm positive that he's not touching his regular seeds because you have millet in there for him. Millet is like the "junk food" for birds. It's extra tasty, fattening, and they will always fill up on the millet and not be hungry for any other food. Try removing the millet and seeing if he starts to investigate his other seeds. :) One question comes to mind— are you feeding him the same seeds he was eating at the pet store (or wherever you got him from)? Sometimes birds don't know that they can eat the food you're giving them if it looks and smells really different from what he was raised on. Also, some birds are raised on pellets, so they don't eat seeds, and vice-versa.

The bald patch on the back of his head is normal if he is a mutation-breed. I'm sure you can do a google search to find out if he's a mutation breed, but basically it's usually the lighter-colored and speckled birds that are mutations. There's nothing wrong with them; they just tend to have balding on the back of their heads. My pearl-mute is like this, and she's always had a bald place. Now, the bald place gets bigger if she's bored and preens too much, but for the most part it has stayed the same.

Suzanne on August 04, 2013:

Just wondering I have a cockatiel that talks & whisles and have been given another will he keep talking as he's stopped since I got the other one-can I put them in the same cage as they seem to like each other when I put the cages side by side-how do you tell the sexes again -eyes ?

Mezzymoo on August 03, 2013:

Hi Jane,

Thank you for your advice.

Ha hasn't touched any seeds yet, (today will be the 3rd day) or had any water, however he's been eating the millet. He's still hissing but I just back off when he does. I'm wondering if its worth going to get him a companion??

Also, he has a bald patch at the back of his head, is this normal? He is 3 months old.

Thanks again.

I know it's very early days. I'm just worried he won't come round. :-(

Ann Leavitt (author) from Oregon on August 02, 2013:

Hi Mezzymoo,

Yes, that's perfectly normal behavior for a new, young cockatiel. The best thing you can do for your cockatiel these first few days after you get him is to give him space. :) I know that's the last thing you feel like doing with your new friend, but he is a little overwhelmed about "moving" to your home, about the new cage, about not being with other cockatiels anymore, and he just needs some time to process the new situation.

What you can do to help this along is to keep the room that he is in pretty quiet. Don't walk up to the cage suddenly, don't make a lot of noise, and don't try to force a lot of contact with him. But do put yourself in the room where he is while you do something quietly; reading or working on a computer, etc. This will encourage him to bond with you while not overwhelming him.

That said, if he continues to not eat (and you will know this because you won't see any seed shells from seeds he's eaten), for about 4 days to a week, that would be a good time to reevaluate whether you should take him to the vet or not. My guess is that he's still a little shy to eat in your presence (he definitely sounds curious about you!), and you might find seed shells in his dish or on the floor of the cage that show that he has pecked at his food a bit when you weren't in the room.

Hope that helps! Let me know how it goes!


Mezzymoo on August 01, 2013:

Hi, I just got my cockatiel today, he (I hope it's a he) is 3 months old. He's let me stroke his chest and when I do I say "step up" and he'll put just one foot on my finger. Then it seems he tries to back off. He's head seems to follow wherever I go. But he's not doing much. (Although he did just have a climb about the cage) the most he's done all day. He hasn't eaten anything or had a drink either.... Is this normal? I've literally only had him about 7 hours. I don't even have a name for him yet. When I talk to him or whistle, he moves his beak or opens his beak as of he wants to day something back.

Any tips to help would be greatly appreciated. Although the blog is very informative!!


Ann Leavitt (author) from Oregon on July 24, 2013:

Hi Erika,

I haven't personally tamed a cockatiel before, but I have tamed a parakeet. I would give it at least six weeks of consistent, gentle handling, and keep other humans away from them if possible, so that they are not skeptical of all people. :)

It's possible that Apple and Aki are mates, but sometimes cockatiels just make "friends."

Erika on July 12, 2013:


I have 4 cockatiels, Apple, Snow, (males) Aki and Milo (females). They are all wild ones but I think I'm starting to tame Snow, Aki and Milo ( the younger ones). I offer food for them and they come down to take some even though they're still a little cautious and Apple is starting to try to take some food from my hand. Snow was first, Aki second then Milo. They've been eating from my hand for 2-3 weeks now. How much longer do you think until they fully trust me and like me?

Also, Apple and Aki ruffle each others feathers all the time. Does that mean they're mates?

Brenda Barnes from America-Broken But Still Beautiful on July 03, 2013:

Ah, your cockatiels are so sweet. I love those little birds. My little Hyphen died about 8 months ago and I miss him so very much. I got him as a hatchling and he was my friend for 21 years. We were beginning to think he would bury me. lol

You did a great job on this Hub. I know it will help people understand cockatiels better.

Ann Leavitt (author) from Oregon on July 02, 2013:

Hawaiian, I'm so sorry for your little bird. I had a parakeet that had the same condition, and I attempted to give her calcium supplements but she wouldn't take them and her belly got more and more swollen (there was an egg that couldn't have a shell formed around it because her body didn't have enough calcium). Since then I've given lots of chances for my cockatiels to eat calcium via mineral blocks in their cage and they seem to be doing well.

I'm sure your Dr. knows best, but that must be really hard for you to do. What a sweetie, to come up to you and want you to pet her at that young age. I'm sure you won't forget such a special companion!

Hawaiian on July 02, 2013:

Forgot to add that I really liked your blog. Sorry for the randomness of my post, just been feeling really crappy and emotional right now. Poopie looks exactly like your Pearl Cockatiel and I've been remicising about all the nuzzles, head scratching, chirping, nibbling, and times she has fallen asleep on my chest or shoulders. 14 years or so ago, the day I got her, she was the only tiel that came up to me and stuck her head up against the cage for a head scratch, the rest of them were shy and stayed back. That's how I knew she was the one for me. I'm going to really miss the morning "hellos" from her when I would come down stairs and get ready for work. Anyway, sorry for the rambling and I wish all of you and your feathery loved ones a long and healthy life filled with great moments.

Hawaiian on July 02, 2013:

I just found out my cockatiel (Poopie) has a chronic condition (yolk emboli). Dr said it is best to put her down. I will be going to the vet after work today and saying my good-byes. Reading online, I found out that calcium deficiencies probably played a role in her situation, along with me not taking her to the vet annually. I didn't know what was wrong until it was too late. She rbought so much joy into my life, and then about 1-2 years ago, I started neglecting her. I regret my actions and hope that she can forgive me. Please be sure that your babies have a well balanced diet and make sure that they see their vet on an annual basis. Aloha.

Jennifer Bridges from Michigan on May 05, 2013:

Lots of great info here for those who are thinking of adopting a cockatiel (and even for long-time cockatiel owners who need a refresher).

I adopted a rescued cockatiel a little over two years ago now, and he's the absolute best pet I've ever had (and I've had many animals throughout my life). He's so full of character and personality.

Hayley on December 10, 2012:


Ann Leavitt (author) from Oregon on December 08, 2012:

Hi Hayley,

Thanks for reading! This website was written from four years of personal experience, but I helped catch an escaped cockatiel years before that, which got me interested in them.

I am not familiar with cockatiel breeders in Florida. I suggest looking for one from the animal shelter first, and getting to know it and make sure you like it and it likes you. There are lots of sweet, tame birds there that just couldn't stay at their master's homes for whatever reason, so that's the first place I'd look! It's also cheaper than buying from a breeder, and they usually are less fussy eaters. Breeders sometimes train them to eat expensive pellets (which they say are healthier than seeds) but then the birds never learn to like seeds and fruits and veggies.


Hayley on December 04, 2012:

Also, do you recemend (sorry if that is spelled wrong) any bird stores/breeders that are in Florida? Preferribly (sorry spelling) near Brandon and Valrico?

Thanks in inconvineience! (sorry spelling)

hayley on December 04, 2012:

I really want to name mine kiwi LOL so CUTE. How long did it take to gather this info (or was it from experience) and make this website. It has outstanding information, I think I am going to read it again!

P.S. I will tell everyone who needs info or is getting a bird to come to this website.

aivzdog on December 04, 2012:

What a great article. I have a cockatiel and I love her very much. She is smart and sweet. Her name is Sassy because my favorite dog movie is Lassie. Funny thing is she barks like a dog.

hayley on December 03, 2012:

Wow Jane, thats an awsome article! I really want a cockatiel for Christmas. This website provided all the information I needed for keeping my (soon to be) pet happy. It just makes me want him sooner. Great job, and thank you for taking time to make this wonderfull website. (:

Ann Leavitt (author) from Oregon on August 18, 2012:


It sounds like Bert has found a friend! Cockatiels are very social animals, and very "physical" as well. They love their own species, they love cuddling from their humans, and sometimes even enjoy playing with other animal pets. Some pet stores actually sell cockatiel "buddies" or "cuddlers", which are fuzzy/furry tubes with flaps or cozy places for cockatiels to cuddle up to. I think this is what Bert is doing with his bird toy. He probably feels like he is being loved and cuddled by another bird, and his chirping shows that he is probably talking to the bird toy as well. This isn't strange for a cockatiel, but it sure is cute!


Sage on August 13, 2012:

My tiel's name is Bert and hes been acting strange with his beanie bird toy. He is now starting to hid or cuddle under its wing and make strange chirping noises. Is he talking to it or just being the strange bird i know and love?

declan on August 10, 2012:


Ann Leavitt (author) from Oregon on August 08, 2012:


It could be that one cockatiel is responding to the other cockatiel's mating call-- or at least thinks she is. Another thing that's possible is that the one with it's head down wants to be petted/plucked by the other one. I have a female cockatiel that lowers her head to my other cockatiel, which is her asking for him to pull on or toy with the feathers on the back of her neck. She's nearly bald back there because she has him pull out the feathers every day. Sometimes he obliges her, other times he ignores her, or gives her a nip back as if to say, "No! And stop asking!"

Ann Leavitt (author) from Oregon on August 08, 2012:

Hi Le,

Cockatiels often squeak to "talk" to you when you do something they like, or to show their appreciation to you. My two cockatiels both respond when I whistle to them; one whistles back (the boy) and the other makes a soft squeaking sound like she's trying to respond. When I feed my cockatiels, they both make a sound while sticking their head in the food dish; it's sort of a "gwuak?" noise, like they're investigating what's there. Hope that helps!

declan on August 01, 2012:

Why does one of cockatiels put its head on my other cockatiels chest when it sing

Le on May 28, 2012:

Hi, I was wondering- often after I pat my cockatiel or give share my food she puts her back to me and makes a soft squeaking sound for about 3 minutes then finishes eating or goes about her business.. What is this? And I am currently pregnant and she does it around me whenever I give her attention( every day if course!) even just a whistle to her.. Any idea? Thanks

Ann Leavitt (author) from Oregon on April 17, 2012:

Orange Tiel,

How do you travel with your tiel? That sounds fun, as long as it's safe for the little feathered friend. :) I've thought about creating a leash of sorts that would keep them close if I took them outside, but I don't want anything that could injure their feet or neck.

OrangeTiel on April 08, 2012:

I am in love with my babies!i have eight of them. My baby orange is with me everywhere i can take her! they each have their personalities and they never fail to amaze me with their intelligence and cuteness!!!i also have budgies that are adorable but surely my tiels are more needy for my attention! but i distribute equally!cockatiels are awesome pets n i love my babies deeply!

Ann Leavitt (author) from Oregon on March 22, 2012:


I wouldn't suggest switching to pellets if your cockatiel has been on seed. Cockatiels are notoriously picky about food, and won't try anything they haven't been raised on. Occasionally they will take a small taste of something if you are standing near them and eating it and pretending to enjoy it. :)

For winning over your cockatiel's trust, treat him as you would a wild bird. Don't be loud or move suddenly around him. Approach his cage slowly and talking in a low soothing voice. Use a spray of millet (from pet store) in your hand and bring it slowly to him before even trying to get him on your finger. Let him eat out of your hand, then if he is comfortable, put your finger gently across his feet while he eats. He may step onto your finger just because it is inconvenient having his feet covered up!

After that, just let him continue eating, getting comfortable sitting on your finger. Don't try to move him out of the cage or anything unless he is comfortable. This process can take several days, but birds love routine, so if you can make this "finger training" as regular and gentle, with no loud or unexpected things happening, that will help!

Also, cockatiels may warm up to one person at a time, so I would suggest the primary caregiver being the one to finger tame him.

Let me know how it works!

Jana Tarleton on March 04, 2012:

We have a neglected Tiel we are trying to make part of our family. Rupee will get on our finger if "forced" - but we are getting him out to put on our knee as suggested by the rescue, taking to a small room for 10 - 15 mins , trying to get him use to us. We do not think the previous owners got him outnallmall, the cage was corroded in dirt ( we thought it was rust) we know it will take a long time,mbut today he has been rocking and squawking for 4 solid hours. We did change his food this morning and he did go down to eat droppings look fine. He was on seed and we would like to change to pellets but are scared rondo that. Any suggestions on how we can help this poor abandoned, neglected sweetie we would be greatful.

Ann Leavitt (author) from Oregon on December 19, 2011:


My cockatiels bicker with each other as well. Usually they just snap at each other and make irritated sounds, but they never draw blood or latch on to each other. You don't need to worry about them fighting if they never really injure each other. One is probably the dominant one, and the other is the more submissive one, so if the submissive one has something the dominant one wants (i.e., the food, the perch, the special "spot") he will snap at the other to say "move it!" But, you may notice that they tend to act as a flock at all other times, liking to sleep at the same time and in proximity to each other, liking to graze on the floor of their cage together, or to eat together if you have two food bowls. This shows they aren't complete enemies!

Janeyy on December 16, 2011:

My baby cockatiel (3.5months) tends to hang upside down as he sings! He sings/chirps (whistles tunes he learnt) to get attention, to let me know he wants out. But its so pretty to hear I make him wait LOL. He's an all white cockatiel named Alby Snookums.

His partner, Bobbi Snookums (15months) has been a terror since day one. destructive as hell, used to whinge a lot before she laid eggs and before i brought Alby home. She's a lot quiet now, but still a terror, and can pack a mean bite.

My problem now is, they dont get along so well. They can live in the same cage but they snap at each other when one gets too close.. On occasion they get curious of the others tail, or one will want to kiss but the other wants to fight. HELP! What can I do?

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