Cockatiel Is Shaking: 9 Possible Reasons & What To Do

Cockatiel Is Shaking

If you’re a bird owner, seeing your cockatiel shake can be a stressful situation. Additionally, other actions like puffed-up its feathers and closing its eyes may occasionally accompany shaking in cockatiels. However, it’s important to understand that shaking is not always a bad thing. This behavior is common and typical among birds. That being said, there are several reasons for this cockatiel’s behavior.

One potential reason is stress, which could be caused by a variety of factors, such as a new environment or loud noises. Your cockatiel also might be scared, which can cause shaking and trembling along with other symptoms such as puffing up and hunkering down.

Another possibility is that your cockatiel is simply grooming itself. Shaking can help to ruffle and settle feathers, aiding in the cleaning process.

It’s crucial to remember that shaking can signify illness when combined with other symptoms. For example, if your cockatiel is trembling and also has ruffled feathers, loss of appetite, or lethargy, it could be a sign of sickness.

Also, keep in mind that cockatiels may shiver in response to being too cold to raise their core body temperature during colder months.

In this article, I will discuss:

  • The reasons why your cockatiel might be shaking
  • Different types of shaking
  • What to do, and much more…

Why Is My Cockatiel Shaking?

Why Is My Cockatiel Shaking?

Birds, like cockatiels, often shake, but the reason for it can vary. Sometimes it’s due to a too cold or sickness, but other times it’s a natural response to preparing for sleep.

Shaking happens when muscles rapidly contract and release, causing spasms that can make the bird appear to vibrate in place. Although unintentional, it may signal an issue with the bird or that it’s overwhelmed.

Cockatiels may shake for 9 main reasons:


Shaking in cockatiels can indicate various things, and it’s essential to understand the cause behind it. While it could be a natural response when preparing to sleep, it could also be a symptom of a sickness.

If you notice that your cockatiel is shaking excessively, closing its eyes, losing balance, or spending a lot of time at the bottom of the cage, it may be a sign of illness. It could be an infection or respiratory illness causing this strange behavior, and you should get it to the vet as soon as possible.

Other signs of illness include:

  • Disarranged and ruffled feathers
  • Lack of appetite
  • Reduced water intakeOpens in a new tab.
  • Wheezing noises
  • Unusual behavior

In some cases, shaking in cockatiels could also be a seizureOpens in a new tab.. So, if you notice your cockatiel exhibiting shaking without any reason, you should seek immediate vet help.


Cockatiels are known to shake while preening themselves, which is considered typical behavior. During preening, they often ruffle and fluff their feathers. In that way, they help them get rid of any food debris or dirt that may have found its way into their feathers. They also use their beaks to nuzzle each feather, ensuring they are perfectly clean.

If you notice that your cockatiel is shaking during grooming, there’s no need to worry. This is a routine behavior that helps them maintain good hygiene. However, if your cockatiel displays any other signs of stress, such as excessive preening or picking at its feathers or feet, a vet visit may be necessary.

In addition, giving your cockatiel a bird bath can also result in shaking behavior as they dry and fluff their feathers. It’s essential to let them dry off naturally and not use a hairdryer or any other heated tool as this can harm their feathers.

Fear or anxiety

Cockatiels are known to spook easily, and sudden actions or loud noises in their environment can cause them to shake. This behavior is often seen during night frights, a common occurrence among cockatiels. When the danger has passed, the shaking is a typical reaction to fear, and the feathers typically fluff up once more.

When a cockatiel experiences fear, the body releases adrenaline, a hormone that helps it respond to dangerous situations. Also, when birds experience a rush of adrenaline, it can enhance their energy levels and reaction time. However, if they don’t engage in enough physical activity to metabolize the hormone, it can result in shaking and trembling.

Prolonged trembling may indicate a persistent stressor in the bird’s environment, such as a predator outside the window.


Cockatiels are known for their susceptibility to night frights, but shaking can also indicate other underlying issues. Stress is a key factor that can cause cockatiels to tremble and shake. Therefore, these social birds need regular interaction to thrive. A lack of attention or socialization can lead to stress and the development of a habit of trembling and shaking.

Cockatiels also need a stable and consistent environment to feel safe and secure. Any sudden changes in their surroundings, such as loud noises, unfamiliar objects, or other pets in the household, can cause stress in cockatiels.


Cockatiels are sensitive birds that require an optimal temperature to stay comfortable. If the temperature drops suddenly or there is a cold air draft, your cockatiel may begin to shake or shiver. Additionally, a cockatiel that shivers frequently is exposed to cold air currents, such as from an air conditioner or an open window.

Therefore, it’s important to keep your cockatiel’s environment at the proper temperature, as they can chill quickly if the room they’re in is too cold.

One way to ensure a consistent temperature is by using a space heater, but be sure to keep it away from the bird’s cage to avoid overheating. Alternatively, you can place your cockatiel’s cage in a room without windows or air vents where drats can enter.

Also, your cockatiel may be shaking and shivering after baths. In this way, the cockatiel dries off after the baths.

To prevent this, quickly dry your bird with a towel and keep it in a room with the proper temperature where it can dry itself. If you notice that your cockatiel puffed up its feathersOpens in a new tab., and shaking its head or shivering, it could be a sign that it’s feeling cold.

In addition to being exposed to cold temperatures, your cockatiel may shake if it’s sneezing or has an underlying health issue. If you notice these symptoms, taking your bird to a vet for a check-up is best.

See also: Why Does My Cockatiel Have Cold Feet?Opens in a new tab.


It’s not uncommon to see your pet cockatiel puffed up and shaking before bedtime. This is a normal part of their winding-down routine that helps them relax and calm their nerves before sleepingOpens in a new tab..

These actions are often seen as a way for birds to relieve stress and tension, much like how we might stretch or take a deep breath to relax. In fact, many bird owners report that their birds fall asleep shortly after this pre-bedtime ritual.

While it’s natural to be concerned if you see your cockatiel shaking, in this case, it’s usually nothing to worry about. Instead, it’s a sign that your bird is getting ready for a good night’s sleep.


When preparing to fly, some cockatiels exhibit enthusiastic behavior, especially those with clipped wingsOpens in a new tab. who may feel uncertain about their flight capability. Frequently, this heightened animation comes with:

  • Shaking and trembling.
  • Alternating feeds on the perch
  • Rhythmic forward and backward bobbing.

These behaviors signify the bird’s anticipation as it revs up for takeoff, displaying a mix of excitement and readiness.


When a cockatiel experiences an injury, shaking may occur as a result of the intense pain it feels. Sometimes, in this case, cockatiels may also show a sign of shaking along with closing their eyesOpens in a new tab..

This shaking can become more pronounced when the bird is compelled to exert strain on the injured area, such as by standing on a wounded leg.

Such strain can overload the pain receptors and exacerbate the discomfort. Even if the injury is located elsewhere, the pain can still elevate the cockatiel’s heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing intensity.

As a result, the bird remains in a state of heightened vigilance, leading to visible shaking and trembling.


Molting is a natural processOpens in a new tab. in which cockatiels shed their old feathers and grow new ones. During this period, it is common for cockatiels to shake their bodies more frequently than usual. The shaking helps them adjust to the changes happening in their plumage as they go through the molting cycle.

As new feathers grow in, the old ones become loose and eventually fall out. This can cause some discomfort and itchiness for the cockatiel, leading to increased shaking as they try to alleviate any irritation.

The shaking motion helps to loosen the old feathers and stimulate the growth of new ones, aiding in the molting process.

Why Is My Cockatiel Shaking Its Tail?

Cockatiels communicate through body language, with their tails playing a vital role. They fan their tails when aggressive and wag or flip them when happy.

It can be mistaken for shaking when cockatiels express themselves vigorously.

Usually, tail-shaking is harmless. If your cockatiel has closely bonded with you, it may greet you with a side-to-side shake of its tail, which means it’s happy to see you.

On the other hand, a cockatiel may also wiggle its tail while bathing or preening to shake off excess dust or water.

However, it’s more concerning if a cockatiel “bobs” it’s tail up and down. This will be a slow, mostly rhythmic movement that’s in time with the cockatiel’s breathing, which can indicate sickness or injury.

You might also want to read: Why Is My Cockatiel Wagging His Tail?Opens in a new tab.

Why Is My Cockatiel Shaking Its Head?

Cockatiels shaking their heads is a behavior that can have various meanings and causes. It’s important to understand the different reasons behind this action to ensure the well-being of your cockatiel.

One common reason for head shaking in cockatiels is during their mating rituals. Both male and female cockatiels engage in head bobbingOpens in a new tab. as a part of their courtship behavior. This movement is a natural way for them to communicate their interest and readiness to mate.

Sometimes, cockatiels may shake their heads in response to external stimuli, such as sounds or music in their environment. When they hear a sound they enjoy or find intriguing, they may react by shaking their heads, chirping, appearing excited, or even dancing.

On the other hand, if the sound is unpleasant or disturbing to them, they might become agitated and noisy.

Additionally, baby cockatiels may nod their heads when they are begging for food. You may observe your baby cockatiels wobbling or shaking their heads. This is usually a result of their developing muscles and coordination. As they grow, they gain better control over their movements.

Why Is My Cockatiel Shaking Its Wings?

Why Is My Cockatiel Shaking Its Wings?

Cockatiels rely on their wings for communication and insulation, and the act of shaking their wings serves multiple purposes and conveys various messages. Let’s explore the different meanings behind wing shaking in cockatiels:

  • When cockatiels engage in preening, they may slightly open their wings and shake them to realign their feathers.
  • During the mating seasonOpens in a new tab., male cockatiels utilize the display of their feathers to attract potential partners.
  • In moments of distress, cockatiels may hold their wings open and flap them, creating an intimidating appearance. This behavior serves as a defense mechanism to ward off potential threats.
  • As cockatiels go through the molting process, they often experience feather growth. To aid in this development, they instinctively twitch or shake out their wings, facilitating the proper emergence of new feathers.
  • Expressing happiness and affection, cockatiels may gently shake their wings. This delightful movement showcases their contentment and serves as a form of endearing communication.

However, if you notice that a cockatiel is unable to close one of its wings properly, it is cause for concern. In such cases, the shaking of the wing could indicate pain or injury, necessitating immediate attention and care.

New Cockatiel Is Shaking

Cockatiels, being small prey animals, naturally exhibit caution in new environments and with new owners.

Therefore, it’s perfectly normal for a cockatiel to feel anxious when introduced to its new home.

In some cases, despite your best efforts, the new cockatiel may become so frightenedOpens in a new tab. that it experiences shaking and trembling. This trembling is a result of adrenaline surging through the body as a natural response to prepare for a potential flight. This surge of adrenaline can make all the difference for a wild cockatiel, aiding in its escape from predators.

However, captive cockatiels, unable to flyOpens in a new tab. and release this excess adrenaline, end up shaking as a consequence. Rest assured, it is a natural reaction for them.

Baby Cockatiel Is Shaking

Baby cockatiels can appear to shake, but it’s usually because they’re gaining control over their muscles. As mentioned, chicks exhibit head-bobbing as a way to signal their hunger and beg for food.

Differentiating between true shaking and begging can be determined by paying attention to the accompanying sound.

Begging is characterized by vocalizations when the chick senses the return of its parent to the nest.

It’s not uncommon to observe wobbling and trembling in chicks as they learn to walk and move. It can look as if the cockatiel is shaking while going through this process.

Baby cockatiels may shake if they’re too cold, and they need a consistently warm environment to thrive. Typically, the mother cockatiel takes on the responsibility of keeping the chicks warm.

However, if you are hand-raising the chicks, it’s necessary to provide a nesting boxOpens in a new tab. that maintains an approximate temperature of 98 degrees Fahrenheit.

Baby cockatiel shaking head when hand feeding

When hand-feeding a baby cockatiel, it’s not uncommon for it to shake its head. This behavior can have a few different reasons behind it.

One possibility is that the cockatiel is still adjusting to the new sensation of being hand-fed and is trying to get used to the texture and taste of the food.

Another reason could be that the temperature of the food is not ideal, causing the chick to shake its head in discomfort.

It’s also possible that the baby cockatiel is simply expressing its independence and trying to take control of the feeding process.

Cockatiel Is Shaking During Certain Activities

When observing your cockatiel, you may notice it shaking during various activities, such as bathing, sleeping, and eating. However, not all shakes should cause concern. Let’s take a closer look.

After a bath, cockatiels may experience a chill, much like humans. To dry themselves and generate body heat, they shake their feathers, promoting warmth and comfort. This behavior is entirely normal and indicative of a healthy bird.

If you notice your cockatiel shaking its head while asleep, it could be feeling cold. Checking the room’s temperature and ensuring it’s adequately warm can address this issue and provide a more comfortable environment for it.

Sometimes, a cockatiel may shake its head while adjusting its feathers or crest, which is a natural grooming behavior. However, if it gets startled during sleep, fear might trigger the shaking response.

During mealtime, if your cockatiel shakes its head while eating, it could be conveying a message. Positive head shaking might indicate enjoyment of the food. On the other side, signs of aggression or walking away could suggest a dislike for the offered meal.

Cockatiel Shaking And Closing Eyes

Cockatiel Shaking And Closing Eyes

If your cockatiel is shaking and closing its eyes, it can signify several possible reasons.

This behavior may indicate contentment and relaxation, as birds often close their eyes when they feel comfortable.

However, most of the time, it could also be a sign of discomfort or pain in cockatiels, prompting shaking and closed eyes as a response.

Cockatiels often hide their symptoms if they’re not feeling well, so as a bird owner, it’s your responsibility to keep an eye out for any unwell behavior.

Birds exhibit this behavior because, in the wild, any indication of weakness could attract predators. However, if your cockatiel is unwell, there will be additional noticeable symptoms such as laying down, refusing to eat, or showing no response.

Cockatiel Puffed Up And Shaking

If you notice your cockatiel puffed up and shaking, it may indicate severe possible causes.

One common reason is that your bird is feeling cold or trying to conserve its heat. When cockatiels puffed up and shake, they trap air between their feathers, creating an insulating layer to keep warm.

Shaking can be a way to generate extra body heat.

Also, cockatiels frequently incorporate puffed-up and shaking into their bedtime routine. In this way, they alleviate stress and promote relaxation before sleep.

Moreover, after encountering a stressor or facing a threat, cockatiels engage in this behavior to calm themselves down.

What To Do If Your Cockatiel Is Shaking?

If your cockatiel is constantly shaking, it’s important to take action to help them feel better and prevent any further health issues. Here are some tips to help your shaking cockatiel:

  • Provide a Warm and Comfortable Environment: A warm and comfortable environment can help your cockatiel relax and feel less stressed. Ensure the temperature in their living space is between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. You can also provide a cozy spot for them to rest by adding a heated perch, soft towel, or blanket to their cage.
  • Offer Fresh Food and Water: Cockatiels need a nutritious and balanced diet to stay healthy. Ensure your cockatiel has access to fresh food and water at all times. A healthy diet can help strengthen their immune system and prevent health issues that can lead to shaking
  • Reduce Stress: Stress can cause shaking in cockatiels, so it’s important to reduce any factors that may be causing stress in your bird’s life. This can include loud noises, sudden movements, or changes in their environment. Provide a calm and predictable living environment to help your cockatiel feel safe and secure.
  • Provide Toys and Stimulation: Cockatiels are social and intelligent birds that need mental and physical stimulation to stay healthy and happy. Therefore, provide them with a variety of toysOpens in a new tab., such as chew toys, mirrors, and puzzles. This will help keep them entertained and prevent boredom, which can lead to stress and shaking.
  • Consult with a Vet: It’s crucial to speak with a knowledgeable avian vet if your cockatiel’s shaking persists or is associated with other symptoms like lethargy, loss of appetite, or breathing difficulties. They can provide a proper diagnosis and recommend appropriate treatment to help your cockatiel recover.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why Does My Cockatiel Shake While I Hold Him?

When your cockatiel shakes while you hold him, it could be due to a few reasons. First, it may be a sign of fear or anxiety, indicating that your bird is feeling uncomfortable being held. Second, it could be a natural response to being out of its comfort zone, especially if it’s not used to being handled. Third, it may be simply a way for your cockatiel to regulate its body temperature.

Why Does My Cockatiel Open His Wings And Shake?

When your cockatiel opens his wings and shakes, it is likely a display of excitement, happiness, or preening behavior. Cockatiels often exhibit this behavior as a way to stretch their wings and release built-up energy. It can also be a sign of contentment and a way for them to maintain their feathers’ health and appearance. However, it is advisable to consult an avian vet if this is also showing other symptoms of distress, such as unusual breathing or lethargy.

Why Is My Cockatiel Shaking Its Body?

If your cockatiel is shaking its body, there could be a few possible reasons behind this behavior. One common reason is that the cockatiel is engaged in a natural behavior called “shaking off.” Like many birds, cockatiels have the instinct to shake their bodies to remove any dust, debris, or excess water from their feathers. This shaking motion helps keep their plumage clean and in optimal condition. Additionally, cockatiels may also shake their bodies as a way to relax or relieve tension.

Can A Cockatiel Shake As A Sign Of Affection Or Bonding?

Yes, cockatiels can shake as a sign of affection or bonding. When a cockatiel is excited or happy to see its human companion, it may exhibit a behavior known as “tail shaking.” Raised crest feathers and a general display of enthusiasm frequently go along with this shaking. This behavior is a positive sign and indicates that the cockatiel feels comfortable and connected with its human companion.


Shaking is a usual behavior in birds, including cockatiels, and can occur for various reasons that are usually not concerning.

Your healthy cockatiel may shake as part of the grooming routine, to regulate its body temperature if it feels cold, or simply to relax.

By closely observing your cockatiel’s daily behavior, you can differentiate between a shaking routine and potentially worrisome signs.

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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