Why Is My Cockatiel Losing Its Balance?

Cockatiel losing balance

Cockatiels are naturally skilled at balancing, but there are several reasons why they may lose their balance. Inner ear infections are a common cause of balance issues in these birds, which can cause inflammation and fluid buildup in the ear.

Another common reason for balance loss in cockatiels is ataxia, which affects the musculoskeletal and nervous systems. This makes your cockatiel appear uncoordinated and clumsy. Tumors, head injuries, nutritional deficiencies, and sciatic nerve compression can also cause your cockatiel to lose its balance.

Cockatiels rely on their ears to maintain their balance, with small organs located deep inside called semicircular canals. These C-shaped tubes, covered in tiny hairs and fluid, transmit messages about the bird’s orientation to the brain.

They also have a secondary balance organ located in the lumbosacral vertebrae called the synsacrum, which helps them balance.

Identifying the cause of balance loss in cockatiels can be challenging, but it’s crucial to check for signs of sickness and injury to get the cockatiel the necessary treatment and support for recovery.

Observe your cockatiel’s behavior and seek veterinary care if you notice any abnormalities, like a wobbly, unsteady bird.

What Causes A Cockatiel To Lose Its Balance?

cockatiel losing balance

There are several reasons why a cockatiel may lose its balance, including:

Inner ear infection

An inner ear infection can be a common issue in the cockatiel and can cause a loss of balance and other symptoms, including:

  • Head tilting
  • Constant shaking of the head
  • Brown or yellow discharge
  • Inflamed or red skin around the ear
  • Foul smell from the ears

Inner ear infections occur when the inner ear becomes inflamed, leading to a buildup of fluid that disrupts the bird’s balance mechanisms.

However, it’s important to take your bird to a qualified vet if you suspect an ear infection, as this condition can lead to permanent damage if left untreated. Common causes of ear infections in cockatiels include:

  • Mites
  • Fungi
  • Bacteria

If you want to prevent your cockatiel from losing its balance and treat an inner ear infection, you need to intervene immediately.

Treatment involves antibiotics, anti-inflammatory medications, and a warm environment. Furthermore, dietary changes or supplements may also aid in recovery.

You can prevent ear infections by keeping your bird’s environment clean, providing a nutritious diet, and getting regular vet check-ups. Don’t hesitate to consult a vet if you suspect an inner ear infection.


Ataxia can cause cockatiel balance issues, making it difficult for the bird to maintain its posture. This condition affects the musculoskeletal and nervous systems, damaging the spinal cord, brain, or inner ear.

Inner ear infections, head trauma, neurological conditions, and specific viral or bacterial infections are just a few causes of ataxia.

However, if your cockatiel is losing its balance, it may appear wobbly and clumsy and struggle to walk, perch, or maintain its balance. It may spread its legs apart or use its beak to hold onto the cage to try to stay upright. If it tries to get on its perch, it is likely to fall offOpens in a new tab..

It’s important to seek veterinary care as soon as possible if you suspect balance loss in your cockatiel or any other health problems. Ataxia can have devastating effects on your cockatiel, and delaying treatment can lead to further complications.


If your cockatiel is having balance issues, it could be due to tumors that may develop in the brain or ears. These growths can put pressure on these organs, affecting the bird’s balance.

Tumors can damage the inner ear’s or brain’s vital structures, leading to balance problems. Additionally, tumors can impact the nervous system, causing ataxia, which affects the coordination of the muscles and can make it difficult for the bird to balance.

In some cases, tumors can be cancerous, leading to more severe health issues.

Male cockatiels may develop testicular tumors, which can cause limb weakness, paralysis, and lameness, resulting in losing their balance or an inability to stand or perch.

Early detection and treatment of tumors can significantly improve the bird’s quality of life.

Head injuries

Cockatiels may lose their balance due to head injuries caused by falling or colliding with objects in their cage or during flight.

Severe head impacts can lead to brain damage and coordination issues. Signs of a head injury include:

  • Muscle weakness
  • Tremors
  • SeizuresOpens in a new tab.
  • Uncontrollable eye movements
  • Loss of balance
  • Bleeding
  • Bruising
  • Head tilt
  • Lethargy
  • Changes in behavior

If you suspect your cockatiel has a head injury, seek immediate vet care to prevent further complications. Prevention is essential, and therefore you should keep the cage and play area free from obstacles that could cause falls or collisions.

Sciatic nerve compression

If your cockatiel’s sciatic nerve is compressed or damaged, it can lead to a loss of balance and coordination problems. This can happen if they are injured, pass a large egg, or have a growing mass or tumor.

However, to prevent this, ensure your bird gets the right nutrition and exercise, and has a comfortable cage with different perchesOpens in a new tab..

But if your cockatiel keeps losing balance, go to the vet right away. Treatments include pain management, anti-inflammatory drugs, or surgery, depending on the severity of the case.

Nutritional deficiencies

To prevent balance issues in cockatiels, you should ensure that they have a nutritious diet. One significant cause of balance loss is a lack of vitamin A, which is critical for healthy nerve function.

However, to provide your cockatiel with enough vitamin A, ensure they eat a balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, and high-quality seeds or pellets. Additionally, a well-rounded diet should include:

  • Vitamins A, B, C, and K
  • CalciumOpens in a new tab.
  • Potassium
  • Iron
  • Magnesium
  • Phosphorus
  • Fiber
  • Protein

If you notice your cockatiel still losing its balance, take it to the vet as soon as possible. While vitamin A deficiency is common, there may be other underlying causes. A vet can diagnose and treat the issue, which may be related to injury, illness, or nerve damage.

Can A Cockatiel’s Age Affect Its Balance?

As cockatiels age, their bodies can begin to experience age-related health problems that may affect their balance.

Arthritis is a common condition that can cause inflammation in the joints, leading to pain, stiffness, and reduced mobility.

In aging cockatiels, this can affect the joints in their legs and feet, making it harder for them to balance and perch. Moreover, cognitive decline can also affect coordination and balance.

If you have an older cockatiel that is still losing its balance, it’s important to take them to a vet for a check-up.

Is It Normal For A Cockatiel To Lose Its Balance Occasionally?

It is not uncommon for a cockatiel to lose its balance occasionally. Just like humans, birds can experience minor slips, trips, and falls from time to time.

However, if your cockatiel is frequently losing its balance, this could be a sign of a more serious health problem ( I described all of them above).

But, in some cases, the cockatiel may be trying to perch on a surface that is unstable or slippery, making it more difficult to maintain its balance.

Additionally, changes in the bird’s environment, such as moving to a new cage or introducing new toys, can also affect its balance and coordination.

How Can I Help My Cockatiel To Regain Its Balance?

If you notice that your cockatiel is losing its balance or walking sideways, it’s essential to act quickly to help it regain its balance. Here are some things you can do to help your bird:

  • Provide a stable environment: Cockatiels rely on a stable and safe environment to maintain their balance. Ensure that the cockatiel’s cage is securely anchored and that its perches are sturdy and of appropriate size.
  • Offer a varied diet: A balanced and nutritious diet can help promote good health and support the cockatiel’s overall well-being. Be sure to provide a varied diet that includes pellets, high-quality seeds, fresh fruits and vegetables, and healthy treats.
  • Promote exercise: Encourage your cockatiel to move around and exercise by providing plenty of toys and opportunities to fly or climbOpens in a new tab.. This can help strengthen its muscles and improve its coordination.
  • Consider physical therapy: In some cases, physical therapy can help improve a cockatiel’s balance and coordination. This may include exercises such as stretching, balance training, and coordination drills.
  • Consult with a vet: If your cockatiel is experiencing persistent balance issues, it’s important to take it to a vet for a check-up. The vet can perform a thorough examination and run tests to determine the underlying cause of the problem.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why Is My Cockatiel Wobbling?

A cockatiel may wobble due to several reasons, such as balance issues, old age, nutritional deficiencies, and ataxia. It’s essential to observe other symptoms like difficulty perching or flying, loss of appetite, or unusual behavior. Take your cockatiel to a vet for a thorough examination to determine the underlying cause and receive proper treatment.

Why Is My Bird Swaying From Side To Side?

A bird may sway from side to side for several reasons, such as feeling relaxed or sleepy, trying to maintain its balance, or attempting to adjust its surroundings for comfort. Sometimes swaying can indicate an underlying medical issue, like respiratory or neurological problems.

Why Does My Bird Keep Stumbling?

There could be several reasons why your bird keeps stumbling. One of the common reasons is that it is experiencing neurological issues, such as vitamin deficiency or a head injury. Another possibility is that your bird has an issue with its balance, which could be due to an inner ear infection or ataxia.

How Can A Veterinarian Treat A Cockatiel Balance Issue?

To treat a cockatiel that is losing its balance, a vet will examine the bird thoroughly to identify the underlying cause.
Once the vet has determined the cause of the balance loss, they will create a personalized treatment plan for the bird. This may involve medication to address infections or neurological issues, supportive care like nutritional supplements and fluid therapy, and physical therapy to help the bird regain its balance.


If your cockatiel is losing its balance, it could be a sign of various serious health issues.

It’s important to observe your bird’s behavior and take note of any other symptoms.

A visit to the vet can help diagnose the underlying cause of the balance issues and ensure proper treatment.

In the meantime, provide a safe and comfortable environment for your cockatiel to prevent any further injuries.

Remember, early detection and treatment can lead to a better outcome for your cockatiel’s health and well-being.

Cockatiel Enthusiast

My name is Bojan. I have been around Cockatiels for the past 7 years. I love writing about Cockatiels and helping people understand how these beautiful birds live, what they like, and how to provide them the best possible care.

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