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Different Cockatiel Behaviors and Body Language Explained

(Last Updated On: 25/10/2017)

Different Cockatiel Behavior’s and Body Language Explained

Cockatiels are friendly energetic and are beautiful looking birds, which makes them one of the most popular pet birds. Their size is ideal for a household pet that is they are not too large so as to take up huge amount of space in the house, but are large enough to play with. Cockatiel is specifically the smallest descendants of the Cockatoo family. They have little talking ability which means they can talk but not a lot when compared to the other superior birds that can talk fluently, they pick up tricks well.

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Cockatiel Behavior

Cockatiel is loving pet and will never be disappointing if treated and trained properly, they are known to provide several years of valuable friendship.

It would be amazing if one could jump into the brain of its pet to understand how it works, what are they thinking. Luckily, if you own a Cockatiel, understanding the functioning of its brain isn’t too difficult. A person can understand the Cockatiel behavior by observing it; these birds have the quality of expressing themselves and humans can quite easily understand them.

  • Lowering of the Head

A Cockatiel will only lower its head in front of a person if it really trusts them. This shows that the Cockatiel wants the owner to pat its head. Cockatiel prefers that its feathers are gently stroked upwards instead of downwards. Cockatiel don’t mind being touched; however, be careful not to touch them harshly, they should be treated in a gently

  • Crest Feathers Signal

The pinnacle of a Cockatiel’s head that has the crest feathers can express the feeling of the bird. They move their crest feathers up and down in accordance to their moods.

  • Upward Crest feathers signal

If the crest feathers are pointing upwards, one can assure that the bird is excited and is demanding attention.

If their crest feathers are down in the direction of its back with only the ends pointing up, this means that the bird is pleased and contented in the midst of its new environment. This signal might be given while playing, whistling, singing or beak crushing.

If the crest feathers are straight upwards and the tips inclination is in the forward direction. This indicates that the Cockatiel is nervous or anxious. This may be accompanied by a very strange behavior. Owners should console the bird and ensure that it is not feeling disturbed.

  • Downward Crest feathers signal

When the crest feathers of these birds are in a backward position, this indicates that it is frightened or irritated. The action might be escorted with mocking, swaying backward and forward or attacking. When this bird is terrified, it will often bite as a result of insecurity. Therefore when one observes such behavior, try to calm the bird down and make it feel comfortable.

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Cockatiels are extremely intelligent birds. They call for lots of motivation like other parrots; meaning that they require to be kept busy and attentive. Toys and a few minutes of exercise are required daily to keep them busy. They are not the most talkative parrots available. They often pick-up household sounds and repeat them. They are good in interacting with their owner and can also be taught to perform various activities.

Physical Description

An adult Cockatiel’s length is made up of the tail which is half of its actual length. The average length from beak to tail is about 11 to 14 inches while the weight is quiet less around 3-4 ounces. There is a crest of feathers of 3 inches high on the top of their heads.

The crest is used to signal the emotions of one Cockatiel to the other. If the crest is high up, the bird is said to be alert and in a happy mood, whereas a flatten crest represents a frightened or angry Cockatiel.

In the wild, the Cockatiel’s colors do not vary as much, they are mostly grey with white patches on their wings and yellow grey bars on their tails. The face and the crest are yellow and on each cheek there is an orange patch which is found to be much brighter in males as compared to females, they also have white shoulder patches. Wings of the males are of a solid gray color while the females usually have yellow-white spots. The beaks are usually dark gray and the feet are of light gray color. Light yellow and gray horizontal barring can be seen on the cockatiel’s external tail feathers and a light colored barring can easily be seen on the lower most part of the chest.

Other common colored Cockatiel birds include the Pied which consists of large patches of white, Lutino which has white with a yellow wash and lacks the color grey, Cinnamon which are chocolate brown in color while others are grey.


A Cockatiel need to stretch after it is tired. It may then sleep or take a little nap. At the time the bird stretches, it will first stretch out one wing and then do the same with the other wing.

These are some of the basic ways that these birds express themselves through body language and behavior. As time passes, owners will start to develop a better understanding with the pet Cockatiel and all behavioral signs will slowly become noticeable. As long as a person has the basic knowledge of a Cockatiel behavior, understanding it will not be difficult.

Standing on One Leg

If a Cockatiel ever stands on one leg, it is a good signal. All fit Cockatiel can rest on one leg, so the posture indicates excellent fitness. When the Cockatiel wants to take a nap or rest, it will often stand on one leg; it is a bird’s mode of being comfortable. During the night there is less heat in a Cockatiel body, so it has one leg up next to its stomach to preserve the heat.

Cockatiel Talking

Cockatiel’s have the ability to whistle, mimic sounds and speech. Although the Cockatiel is an intelligent bird, its capabilities are dependent on the owner’s effort and care towards it. If one is very keen in training it, the Cockatiel will be repeating words in no time else some may never vocalize.

Originally posted 2012-11-07 16:00:58.

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