Cockatiels are clever birds that experience a wide range of emotions. They’re creatures of habit, so specific changes to their living environment or daily routine can cause feelings of sadness and depression. So let’s take a closer look at Do cockatiels get depressed? And what you need to do as an owner to prevent it.
Do Cockatiels Get Depressed?
Do Cockatiels Get Depressed? Cockatiels can become depressed due to unsanitary conditions, injury, illness, extreme temperatures, changing the position of the cage, removing toys, loneliness, boredom, or losing a mate. Sad cockatiels can pluck out or fluff up their feathers, bob their heads, develop stress bars, change their vocalization, or lose appetite.
If you have a miserable cockatiel, you will need to find out why it feels so unhappy and solve it. You will need to create a more comfortable living environment through access to sunlight, regular cleaning, improved sleep, extra time one by one, a more nutritious diet plan, and access to favorite toys.
What Causes Cockatiels To Become Depressed?
Depression is more common in cockatiels than you might think. However, even the smallest things can cause a feeling of sadness and unhappiness, so you, as the owner, will need to monitor your cockatiel’s mood constantly.
1. Sickness or Injury
Illness is one of the most likely and common reasons for your cockatiel’s lousy mood. The most common health conditions are
- Fatty liver disease (hepatic lipidosis)
- Psittacosis (parrot fever)
- Respiratory disease
- Internal parasites
In most cases, these health conditions occur as a result of improper care or feeding. Injuries will also make your cockatiel feel unhappy, especially if it is allowed to continue untreated for too long.
2. Change of Routine
Cockatiels need a regular schedule and routine. Significant changes that need to avoid are
- New sleeping schedule.
- Being away from home more often.
- Different feeding time.
- Unfamiliar animals or people near its cage.
Unnecessary routine changes can wreak havoc with your cockatiels mood and cause stress. If you really need to change your cockatiel routine, do it gradually so that your cockatiel has time to adjust.
3. Unsuitable Environment
The position of your cockatiel’s cage can also make your cockatiel feel depressed. For example, if the cage is placed too near a heater or draught, your cockatiel will feel uncomfortable. Likewise, if your cockatiel cage is near the window and is prone to night terrors caused by some form of stimulus, your pet may become unhappy.
Placing a blank over your cockatiel cage can be helpful, as will moving it to a more appropriate part of the home.
4. Mean Cagemates
Cockatiels may not get along well with some of the other parrots in the cage. Sometimes they can quarrel, especially if they are not introduced properly. Jealous cockatiels are more likely to attack other parrots, especially if they are deeply bonded with their owners.
How Can You Tell If A Cockatiel Is Depressed?
When cockatiels are sad, they show certain symptoms that warn their owners of their bad mood. In some cases, all that is needed is a change of environment. In others, your cockatiel may be boring and require more social interaction than you give to it. You may notice:
1. Fluffed-Up Feathers
According to VCA Hospitals, fluffed-up feathers can be a sign of an illness. At other times, fluffed-up feathers are caused by depression. Depression and disease can go hand in hand. Cockatiels hide the condition to prevent themselves from looking vulnerable. Unfortunately, fluffed-up feathers can be a sign of other things, including:
- Mating readiness
So it isn’t easy to understand the feelings of your cockatiel only from the feathers.
2. Feather Plucking
Feather plucking is one of the most common symptoms of cockatiels depression. This is because the plucking of feathers suggests unsuitable avian welfare. Feather plucking is very different from the molting process that cockatiels go through. It is also different from preening, where cockatiels remove dead feathers and coat them with oil to keep them healthy.
Instead of falling out naturally, cockatiels forcibly pluck out their feathers in response to something they do not like in their environment. The plucking of feathers can be caused by:
- Environmental changes
- New cagemates
- Changes in routine
Sometimes plucking feathers is the only way for owners can say that their cockatiel is unhappy. Unfortunately, in the worst cases, cockatiels chew their muscles and bones, causing permanent damage.
3. Loss of Appetite
Cockatiels will not stop eating if there is no reason for it. Loss of appetite is unnatural, especially for long periods. Loss of appetite is a common side effect of depression, causing health conditions such as:
- Kidney disease
- Intestinal problems
- Stomach pain
While your cockatiel may refuse to eat because it’s physically unable to do so, it may also be responding to something unsuitable in its environment. For example, the cage may be too small or scared of other household pets.
If you leave this and don’t resolve it, it is probably malnourishment. If this happens, your cockatiel will lose weight. Cockatiels also have a fast metabolism and will not survive more than two days without eating food.
While some cockatiels become withdrawn and quiet when they are depressed, others become angry and aggressive. This frustration sometimes manifests itself as unpleasant vocalizations, such as biting. Fear or traumatic experiences can cause aggression. They are associated with depression and will get worse over time.
5. Repetitive Behaviors
Cockatiels with depression show obsessive tendencies such as:
- Body swinging
- Head bobbing
This is a form of self-comfort that cockatiels use to deal with negative feelings.
6. Stress Bars
The feeling of stress damages the way that feathers grow. While cockatiel is in depression, it will not utilize its nutrients, especially if it loses its appetite and refuses to eat. Instead, the body will use the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients it has stored to nourish its vital organs.
As a result, thin horizontal lines will appear through the feathers that move perpendicular to the shaft. The most of these lines will be grey, while others will be discolored. Stress bars are not indicative of a particular health condition.
7. Change in Droppings
Any change in the droppings of your cockatiel signifies that something is wrong. Heathy cockatiel droppings should be green with white specks or streaks. Your cockatiels droppings can become:
If so, an infection or health condition may be responsible.
8. Excessive Vocalizations
Vocalizations are one of the most common indications that cockatiels are depressed. The happy cockatiel usually makes gentle chirps and melodic sounds. Conversely, sad cockatiels make unpleasant sounds such as:
If your cockatiel associates depression with you, it will make these sounds every time you walk or approach the same room. As a result, you will have to work on building your bond.
Do Cockatiels Get Lonely?
Cockatiels are very social birds. They live in large flocks in the wild, which provides them protection and companionship. Lonely cockatiels are more vulnerable, so they prefer to stay together to survive. Cockatiels live in flocks to:
- Look for food and shelter together.
- Solve problems.
- Make each other aware of dangers.
- Ward off attacks by predators.
- Find mates.
While life is different for captive cockatiels, they still get lonely and depressed if they do not get enough social interaction from their owners or other birds. This is why cockatiels are recommended to live in pairs or small groups whenever it is possible. The most common signs of loneliness are:
- Hiding from humans.
- Destructive behavior.
If you can’t get another bird, then make sure that you provide a lot of mental stimulation to your cockatiel by playing with it outside its cage and showing it affection. Cockatiels who don’t want to get out of their cages are probably feeling afraid.
Do Cockatiels Get Sad When Their Mate Dies?
Cockatiels form close relationships with cockatiels or other birds. Cockatiels are monogamous birds and stay together until one of them dies. In rare cases, cockatiels leave to find another mate if their current mate cannot produce the eggs. Cockatiels mourn like any other animal.
Bereavement is a natural reaction to cockatiels no longer around. However, once the cockatiel forms a strong bond with its mate, it is as if it becomes depressed and withdrawn after the bird dies. This isn’t only because it misses its mate’s company but also because it feels boring and lonely.
While it is hard to see your cockatiel depressed, you can still improve his mood. So make sure its cage isn’t in a place that makes it feel vulnerable and keep other pets away, especially predatory animals such as cats. Finally, make sure that your cockatiel is healthy by making an appointment with an avian vet.