Like other birds, the body movements of cockatiels tell you a lot about what is going on in their mind. What is the meaning of cockatiels’ body language?
To create and maintain a close relationship with a bird, one of the most important skills you need to have is the ability to understand its vocalizations and body language. Bird owners need to learn the meanings of their birds’ sounds and behaviors. By that, they can successfully train, tame, and give them the best care.
A PLOS study in 2018 showed that cockatiels have strong reactions to distress calls from other birds, especially from the one it has a bond with. The reactions could be raised crest, agitated movements, and loud vocalizations. If a cockatiel gets agitated, it will tend to move to a quiet space in your home and really need you to calm it down. Understanding those, you can do some enjoyable activities like hand-feeding or stroking gently to make your bird relaxed and feel secure. Let’s take more look at this topic.
Cockatiel Body language
Owning a cockatiel, you should know that your bird presents their mind with you through sounds, behavior, and actions. Their body language can tell us if they are content, happy, tired, sick, hungry, scared, angry and whey they are ready for you to hold and play with. Following are the behaviors cockatiels often make to tell you something. Try to understand exactly what your pet wants and respond accordingly.
When cockatiels are content
Tail wagging – When the bird wags its tail back and forth, it means your bird is happy then.
Walking toward you – the bird actively gets close to you when you are nearby. This gesture shows it is content to have you there. Just make sure its head is up and he is actually happy, rather than pointing face-down.
Making noise – when the bird is happy, it likes to talk, sing, whistle, or make some chirping noises.
When cockatiels are aggressive
Flashing or dilating pupils – if you notice your bird’s eyes suddenly dilate, you should stop what you are doing with it because this is a sign of getting mad and angry.
Flipping upside-down – it is a sign of territory defense that the bird spreads wings and flips upside-down. In this stance, if you are near the cage, you know he wants you out of the way and is not willing to play or be trained.
Down head and ruffling feathers – your bird is also getting angry when he puts his head down and ruffles up his feathers. Some birds even fan their tail feathers then.
Snapping – when the bird gets uncomfortable having you around, it can snap in your direction with its beak. They can also lunge at you and bite you. The best way is to leave it in its own space.
Hissing – like snapping, hissing is a gesture that lets you know the bird may bite you. It can go hand-in-hand with aggressive behaviors like lunging.
Wing flapping – this is also a sign for you to let your bird alone a bit. Cockatiels often get mad and annoyed when they make an expansive gesture with their wings and move them up and down.
Need your attention
Beak banging – when cockatiels really like another bird, a person, or an item, they often bang their beaks again things like cages and countertops. It works the same way when it whistles and leans towards the person or item.
Hopping – Like beak banging, the bird is hopping because it wants to catch attention, but at a higher level. When you see that behavior, you should understand that your bird is really begging for your attention.
Load squawking – while making two above behaviors, the cockatiel can make loud squawking or screaming noises as an attention-seeking sign.
Head snaking – normally when a cockatiel moves its head from side to side, it is a fluid motion, not jerking. And it is a way for your bird to get attracted.
Cresting head feathers – to attract a mate, cockatiels often curl up their head feathers into a crest and create a little curlicue in the top of their head.
Fanning tail and spreading wings – when the bird makes these actions as well as crests its head feathers and struts around, it is a sign of seduction. However, this action is sometimes misunderstood with the sign of territory defense. Just notice if it hisses, you should back off then.
When cockatiels get sick
Bobbing tail – when you see your bird bob its tail, you should take it to the vet because it can be sick.
Sitting – if you notice your cockatiel sits or hunches down on a perch on the bottom of the cage more often than usual, you should think of your bird might get sick and it needs more care and attention from you.
Behavioral changes – as the bird plucks its feature, it might be a sign of boredom, but you should consider it is a symptom of beak and feather disease.
Other signs of sickness – when you see these indicators, it is necessary to take your bird to the vet: sneezing, getting extra sleepy, losing its voice, eating much more or less, suddenly drinking more water.
To wrap up
Like other bird pets, cockatiels express their moods and needs through body gestures. So, to become a successful bird trainer and good friend of your bird, you should know the basic body movements in this post. The gestures can be a bit different in each bird. That’s why you should watch your cockatiel and apply the most proper caretaking methods for it.