Why Is My Cockatiel Wagging His Tail?

Cockatiels communicate important messages via their body language. However, the meaning of the same action can have various interpretations. So it’s understandable if you are confused by a cockatiel wagging its tail. But why is my cockatiel wagging his tail?

Why Is My Cockatiel Wagging His Tail? The cockatiel may wag his tail for various reasons, such as: seeking attention, excitement, showing interest, and attracting mates. But, if the cockatiel wags its tail continuously, it may indicate that it is sick or feeling distressed.

There are actually several reasons why your cockatiel may be wagging its tail.

In this article, we will discuss the most 8 common reasons and how to deal with them.

Why Is My Cockatiel Wagging His Tail?

Cockatiels have a small number of muscles in their tails. Nonetheless, these tail muscles work hard to adjust the tail feathers’ angle, spread, and lift.

If you see a cockatiel wagging its tail back and forth, it’s not just habitual behavior. Your cockatiel will be attempting to send you a message that is considered necessary.

Wagging tail feathers has various meanings, including:

1. Joy and happiness

A cockatiel may wag its tail when it’s happy and contented. However, this won’t happen as often as with dogs, as cockatiels reserve this display of happiness for high points in their days.

If the cockatiel quickly shakes its tail back and forth upon spotting you, it’s delighted to see you. Cockatiels may also do this when interacting with other birds with which they share a close bond.

This is expected behavior in social animals, and it’s a way for your cockatiel to show that it’s happy to see you.

2. Excitement

Another common reason for tail wagging is excitement. If your cockatiel wags its tail rapidly, it may feel excited about something.

This could be due to food, play, or anything else that your cockatiel enjoys.

3. Attract attention

In some cases, your cockatiel may wag its tail in an attempt to attract your attention. This is common in cockatiels that are closely bonded with their owners but want more playtime.

You can expect this behavior if you haven’t devoted much attention to your cockatiel lately. So it will pace, chirp, and shake its tail whenever it sees you.

4. Showing interest

Tail wagging can also be a way for your cockatiel to show interest in something.

However, if you are doing something your cockatiel wants to do, it may start wagging its tail to indicate its interest.

It may be a person, a toy, or anything presented in its room.

5. Attract mates

Cockatiels like to show off to get the attention of a potential mate. So when female cockatiels are about to breed, they will shake their tails and preen themselves to show off their plumage.

Similarly, according to BioOne, male cockatiels fan out their feathers and wag their tails as they pull them back together. Again, this grand display proves that they will make healthy, colorful, and viable mates.

Your cockatiel will do this with its cage mates during the breeding season. If there are no other cockatiels, and your pet is too attached to you or its own reflection in the mirror, it may still engage in this behavior.

6. Feather arrangement

Cockatiels are often preening themselves when they are not preoccupied with other activities.

They will shake them out and shuffle them back together again to keep their feathers healthy and neat. The feathers are then preened briefly to help them stack more neatly.

If the cockatiel is dirty, it will do this several times to shake off any dirt and debris. However, it will usually stop after a few minutes and start doing other things.

However, if it’s a constant behavior, it could mean that your cockatiel has mites.

7. Aggression

On its own, wagging tail feathers doesn’t imply aggression.

If a cockatiel is angry and aggressive, it will make itself appear more prominent. Also, it will vocalize loudly by screamingOpens in a new tab. or screeching.

It will puff up its feathersOpens in a new tab., lift and hold out its wings, and shake its tail feathers.

8. Distress or sick

If your cockatiel is wagging its tail continuously and vigorously, it may be sick or in distress.

When a cockatiel is sick, a wagging tail is often accompanied by panting or puffing of the feathers. If the cockatiel is scared, this is a last-ditch effort to make itself appear too fierce to attack or bother.

Unlike aggression, the cockatiel may ho quiet and try to retreat to the back of its cage.

Cockatiel Shaking Its Tail Side To Side

Usually, it’s a positive sign when a cockatiel shakes its tail. However, how your cockatiel wags its tail feathers can give you better insight into the meaning.

Most cockatiels shake their tail from side to side when they are:

  • Happy to see you
  • Excitement
  • Straightening out their feathers.

However, if the cockatiel is upset or aggressive, it will fan out its tail feathers in a wide arc. They may also wave up and down slightly.

See Also: Cockatiel Is Shaking: 9 Possible Reasons & What To DoOpens in a new tab.

Cockatiel Wiggling Bum

A cockatiel shakes its entire but is usually interested in mating. Hormonal fluctuations cause the need to wriggle one’s rear end, although the behavior gradually passes.

If the cockatiel is too young (less than six months) to mate, then the wiggling of the butt will cease quickly.

Adult cockatiels in the breeding phase will not stop wiggling until they find a suitable mate. The cockatiel will rub its bum against objects, people, or other birds to signify that it wants to breedOpens in a new tab..

Occasionally, a cockatiel may wiggle its butt or rub it against other objects when bored. The cockatiel will continue doing this to release the negative energy associated with boredom.

What Should You Do If Your Cockatiel Is Wagging Its Tail Excessively?

If your cockatiel wags its tail excessively, it could signify fear and distress.

While it’s normal for cockatiels to wag their tails occasionally, excessive tail-wagging can cause concern.

If your cockatiel is wagging its tail excessively and also showing other signs of distress, such as pacing or feather-plucking, it’s essential to seek veterinary care.

However, excessive tail-wagging can also be a sign of neurological problems, so it’s essential to have your cockatiel examined by a qualified vet.

With proper care and treatment, cockatiels can lead happy and healthy lives.


In most cases, tail wagging in cockatiels is normal behavior. However, every owner needs to spend a lot of time with the cockatiel to understand his behavior better.

However, only if you take good care of your cockatiel, love them, and understand their behavior can you develop friendly behavior with your cockatiel.

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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