7 Most Common Cockatiel Sleeping Positions (With Meanings)

One of the owners’ biggest questions is about the cockatiel’s sleeping position. How do they sleep? Do they need a cage cover? How long should a healthy cockatiel sleep? If you have found yourself wondering about those questions, we are here to help. Keep reading to learn about the 7 most common cockatiel sleeping positions.

Cockatiels usually sleep perched on one leg with their head upright and relaxed. Cockatiels can also rest with their heads down, on the side of the cage, or by lying down on a perch. Even if it’s not safe, a pet cockatiel will always try to sleep in the highest place possible.

7 Most Common Cockatiel Sleeping Positions

If you have more than one cockatiel in the same cage, make sure there is enough room. Also, provide enough perches close to the top of the cage, where cockatiels prefer to sleep.

How Do Cockatiels Sleep In Their Cage?

Individual cockatiels like to sleep in the same spot every night, which could lead to fights over territory. To avoid this situation, provide enough space in popular positions for all your cockatiels.

Of course, even with optimal conditions, cockatiels still sleep in unusual places and positions. If you’re unsure if your cockatiels are comfortable, learn more about cockatiel sleeping positions.

Here are the most common cockatiel sleeping positions and what they mean:

1. Cockatiel sleeps lying down

Cockatiels usually sleep on a perch, comfortably standing on one legOpens in a new tab.. However, this doesn’t mean any other cockatiel sleeping position is cause for concern.

Sometimes, cockatiels lie on their bellies on the cage floor to sleep. If that’s the case, this sleeping position means the following:

Not enough space

This sleep angle is more likely if you have several cockatiels in a cage and things are tight. Some cockatiels choose this location if there is no more space on a communal perch.

Feels tired

It’s not weird if it doesn’t last for more than a few days. Eventually, the cockatiel should recoup its energy and perch somewhere high again.


If your cockatiel does not straighten up soon, it could be sick. In this case, it’s resting on the bottom of the cageOpens in a new tab. because it doesn’t have enough energy to grip the perch with its feet.

2. Cockatiel sleeps lying down on perch

It looks uncomfortable and even dangerous to lie flat on the perch. But any cockatiel that can sleep all night on one leg can handle this position just fine.

In this position, the cockatiel is standing on one leg, with the other leg tucked into the feathers on its chest. The cockatiel will move its body forward and rest its chest on its perch.


A cockatiel may be extra tired and use this position to rest its legs. It should be fine after 1–2 days of rest.


If it’s a chilly night, the cockatiel may try to keep itself warm.

It keeps warm by curling up into a fluffy ball and leaning down. You can help by putting a blanket over its cageOpens in a new tab. or turning on a room heater.

Another way to assist your cockatiel is to put a heated perch in its cage. I recommend this K&H Pet Products Thermo-PerchOpens in a new tab.. This thermo-perch is controlled with a thermostat, so it warms up to the cockatiel’s natural body temperature and never gets too warm.


Does your cockatiel sleep like this most nights? If so, it could be a sign that it’s sick, so it might not have the energy to sleep standing up.

3. Cockatiel sleeps on one leg

Cockatiel sleeps on one leg

For cockatiels, sleeping on one leg is the most comfortable position. Although it appears demanding to humans, it can help in the following ways:

  • Conserve energy: Rather than using both legs, cockatiels will give one leg a rest.
  • Save heat: When it tucks one leg up between its feathers, it can warm up that leg.
  • Feels safe: Cockatiels feel safest with one leg pulled up.

If your cockatiel sleeps this way, it feels relaxed and comfortable. Cockatiels often switch from one leg to the other to make sure that both legs are warm and well-rested.

Sitting down to cover the legs might unbalance a cockatiel. Even worse, it could make it more difficult to fly away if there is danger. Instead, it’s safer to stand on one leg.

4. Cockatiel sleeps on the side of the cage

If the cockatiel sleeps on the side of the cage, it may climb to the top and hang upside-downOpens in a new tab. from the bars. There is no need to be concerned, as cockatiels like climbing and hanging at different angles.

Even though most of them don’t sleep this way, there are good reasons:

Higher vantage point

Your cockatiel might be looking for a higher perch to sleep on.

Wild cockatiels prefer to sleep on the loftiest branches for these reasons:

  • Easier to quickly flee out of the canopy
  • Avoidance of ground predators

Cockatiels have the instinct to find higher perches to sleep. If your cockatiel can’t find a good vantage point, it will sleep on the side of the cage.

Privacy from other birds

If you have several cockatiels, you may find that 1 or 2 sleep this way. They may cling side-by-side to the edge of the cage or the roof.

Usually, it’s a couple engaging in nesting behavior. According to BehaviourOpens in a new tab., when paired, male and female cockatiels begin sleeping in a different location than the rest of the flock.

If there aren’t enough perches or places to rest, the cage bars will do.

Dislikes other sleeping spots

Does your cockatiel seem determined to keep sleeping in this weird and uncomfortable way? Then it might not be like the other places to sit or rest.

Perhaps there are too many cockatiels in the cage, or the perch is dirty. Maybe the other places are too dangerous, like where a cat likes to sleep.

Add a smaller perch near the top of the cage so your cockatiel can sleep from a comfy vantage point. You can also move the cage to a quieter placeOpens in a new tab. or give it a thorough cleaning.

5. Cockatiel sleeps with head down

It’s common for cockatiels to sleep with their heads turned around and nestled against their backs. It’s even more common when a cockatiel tucks its head under or between its wings.

All these positions can have the same meaning:

Conserving warmth

Most cockatiels sleep this way during the colder months of the year because it allows them to nestle most parts of their body underneath a thick layer of warm feathers.

That way, their beak, eyes, cheeks, and the back of their heads won’t get cold.

Safe and comfortable

Most cockatiels won’t shield their faces or obstruct their vision if they feel scaredOpens in a new tab..

Even mildly anxious cockatiels will want to stay alert, sleeping with one eye open. If your cockatiel is willing to tuck its head down and away, it feels safe and comfortable in your home.

Feeling unwell

A cockatiel lacks the energy to stay warm or hold itself upright. Instead, it snuggles in tight while recovering. Note if its feathers become tattered or it becomes lethargic during the day.

6. Cockatiel sleeps in the “baby position”

The “baby position” is when both of a baby cockatiel’s legs are down. Some of the time, they fluff themselves up to keep warm at night. Sometimes even slightly older cockatiels will sleep in this position.

7. Cockatiel sleeps standing up

Cockatiels have strong legs and feet that have evolved to support their weight while they sleep.

Even though sleeping on two feet does happen sometimes (usually when taking a nap) and isn’t always something to worry about right away, if it happens too often, it’s something you should look into.

The most natural way for a cockatiel to sleep is standing up on a perch.

From there, they usually put their heads into their feathers and use their bodies as soft pillows.

How Do Wild Cockatiels Sleep?

Cockatiels are naturally social birds that like to live and sleep in pairs or in large groups called flocks.

They originated in Australia, where wild flocks of them can still be seen. Most of the time, they like wetlands, scrublands, and bushlands because they have easy access to water and food there.

Cockatiels live in trees because that’s where they sleep and get around when they’re not flying.

A lot of the time, they look for open trees with lots of branches. When the weather gets bad, they sometimes look for trees that are closed in.

By doing this, they can keep themselves safe from the many predators that live on the ground and even from birds of prey in the sky.

Do Cockatiels Sleep With Their Eyes Open?

Cockatiels can sleep with their eyes open, like most other animals and birds.

When they are sleeping lightly or taking a nap, for example, they may open their eyes from time to time.

This is so they can see where they are and make sure they are safe.

Because of this, a baby cockatiel that was just brought into the house and has since been moved, put into a new cage, or whose environment has changed in some other way may be more likely to open its eyes while it sleeps.

But over time, cockatiels who are comfortable and sleeping deeply will close both eyes all night.

How To Know If A Cockatiel Is Sleeping

While sleeping, your cockatiel will stand perched on one leg and usually close its eyesOpens in a new tab..

It may turn its head and nestle it behind its back. Sometimes it will put its head between or under its wings. If you find your cockatiel doing these things, it’s sleeping.

If your cockatiel isn’t sleeping in this position, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s awake.

Check if its eyes are closed, as most cockatiels sleep with at least one eye closed. If the second eye is open, it’s keeping watch while its brain partially rests.

Do Cockatiels Need A Bed To Sleep In?

Cockatiels don’t need a special bed or parrot mattress to sleep. Wild cockatiels often sleep on branches hidden within a tree’s canopy, but a perch will suffice for a pet cockatiel.

Even when they nest, cockatiels find pockets in caves, cliffsides, and trees that have been burrowed out. They don’t collect nesting materials. Instead, they lay their eggs in the simple hole.

Cockatiels don’t have to build a nest, but some won’t turn down a comfortable bed. Some cockatiels might sleep there if you put soft, warm things in the nest and give them space.

How To Help Your Cockatiel To Sleep

Cockatiels need to feel safe and comfortable before dropping off to sleep. So, cultivate a suitable sleeping place. Here are some things you can do to help your cockatiel sleep soundly:

Keep the noise down

Cockatiels need it to be relatively quiet so that they can fall asleep. Sometimes, noisy electronics make it difficult for household cockatiels to wind down and fall asleep.

You may need to move your cockatiel to a quieter part of the house to get 8 to 12 hours of quiet.

Darkness is necessary

Some cockatiels dislike complete darkness, but they like it to be dim. If you force your cockatiel to sleep with the lights on, it may struggle to get quality sleep or fall asleep.

Check the temperature

Cockatiels do best in temperatures between 65° and 80° Fahrenheit. Any lower or higher than this is, you guessed it, too cold or too hot.

If the room is at the right temperature, they will be able to sleep and won’t be too stressed out.

It’s important to make sure that the room where you keep the cage is well-heated all year and that there are no drafts.

Right cage size

Cockatiels need a cage that is just the right size for them to feel safe enough to sleep in.

Even though they are playful and active birds, their cage needs to be big enough for them to spread their wings, move around, and fly.

Experts often disagree on what the minimum size of a cage should be, but a cage for one bird should be at least 24 inches long, 18 inches wide, and 24 inches deep.


A cockatiel’s sleeping positions are a bit more complicated than those of other pets. For your cockatiel to get a good night’s sleep, it needs the right environment. This means you must be willing to give it comfortable perches and a quiet, dark (but not too dark) place to sleep.

When you bring your cockatiel home for the first time, try not to worry too much about getting everything perfect right away. After you’ve had your cockatiel for a while, you’ll know what it needs to do to get ready for the next day.

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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