18 Signs Of A Happy Cockatiel

Most people recognize the scream and hiss of an angry cockatiel. The loud, alarming sound leaves little doubt about the meaning. The ways cockatiels show they are happy and content are usually more subtle, however. But you may wonder what signs of a happy cockatiel are and how to recognize them? So we want to be honest with you and list 18 signs of a happy cockatiel.

However, cockatiels express positive emotions that resemble our own but display their happiness differently.

Happy cockatiels make noises such as chirping, clicking, chattering, singing, and whistling. High-spirited cockatiels also want to fly, play, eat, preen, and engage with others. Body language is the most telling sign of happiness in cockatiels, so they will bob their heads, flap their wings without moving, wag their tails, and tilt their heads.

When your cockatiel is in high spirits, you should look for the following positive signs:

  • Happy body language and movements
  • Happy noises and vocalizations
  • Happy behaviors and temperaments

Each cockatiel has a unique personality and will express its contentment differently. Here are all 18 signs of a happy cockatiel:

Happy Cockatiel Body Language

Some cockatiels can speak, but their primary way of expressing themselves is through body language. It may appear subtle, especially when looking at such a tiny bird, but how it moves is very telling.

The following body language indicates that a cockatiel is happy:

1. Head bobbing

If your cockatiel bobs its head or entire body, that is the sign it’s feeling good.

Head bobbingOpens in a new tab. is often a cockatiel’s favorite dance move. In addition, head bobbing can precede regurgitation, which is affection in cockatiels.

2. Tilting the head

Cockatiels will tilt their heads to the side when they are curious and engaged.

3. Opening its wings slightly

A happy cockatiel might open its wings and straighten up when it sees you. It’s trying to catch your attention, proving it’s in a good mood.

However, this shouldn’t be confused with a cockatiel that holds its wings straight out but doesn’t fly, which is usually a sign of aggression when paired with distressed body language.

4. Twitching its wings

Cockatiels may twitch their wings to show excitement and content. They are so happy that they can’t help but move, even in small ways.

It’s a good sign when paired with happy cockatiel language. However, if the cockatiel retreats or screams, this could mean that it is scared.

5. Tail wagging

Cockatiels have complete control over their tail feathers. With a quick and determined wag, they employ them to convey excitement.

If they dance and feel really into music, they can wag their tail as they bob their head.

Generally, this means that your cockatiel is happy.

6. Standing on one leg

Cockatiels stand on one leg for comfort and warmth before going to bed.

However, they will usually opt for two legs down if they are uncertain or upset. Therefore, if your cockatiel assumes the one-leg posture, you can be sure it feels safe, warm, and happy.

7. Shaking its tongue

Cockatiels open their mouth and wiggle their tongues when they are content and happy.

Happy Cockatiel Sounds

Cockatiels are vocal birds that spend most of their day chattering, clicking, and singing. Each sound will depend on the cockatiel’s mood and interests.

According to Frontier in PsychologyOpens in a new tab., cockatiels love to repeat their favorite sounds. They can even recognize rhythmic and non-rhythmic songs, preferring a good beat.

When your cockatiel sings or repeats a particular chirp, It is the same when you have a nice day and hum your favorite song.

1. Noisy

Unless a cockatiel is screaming or acting distressed, it’s normal for a cockatiel to make noise. A contented cockatiel will spend its day making excitable sounds and start exploring its cage.

When you walk through the home, it will click, chirp, and sing to express that it’s in a good mood. A quiet cockatiel is usually an upset cockatiel, while an active cockatiel is in high spirits.

2. Clicking

Cockatiels make a clicking soundOpens in a new tab. by rubbing the top and bottom of their beak together.

Beak clicking can produce a loud, harsh sound similar to two stones being knocked together. It might startle you at first, but it is a typical sound. Surprisingly, it means your cockatiel feels relaxed and safe.

Cockatiels click to entertain themselves, similar to how you tap your nails against a table. They don’t emit this sound, though, when they are scared or disturbed because it draws attention to them.

Instead, they will hold click for safe locations where they can enjoy making fun noises.

3. Chattering

Chattering is the most common sound cockatiels make, and they chatter incessantly.

However, chattering is a mixture of other noises, like chirping, clicking, and whistling. If you have taught your cockatiel words, it may use them while chattering.

Also, chattering is a musical but mumbled conversation that the cockatiel is having with itself.

4. Singing

Singing is the mixture of sounds that cockatiels know how to make, including human words in a melody. Sometimes, the song won’t have an official melody, yet it may still be enjoyable to hear.

Singing is most common in a group of cockatiels, but a single, well-cared-for cockatiel may sing.

Cockatiels sing as a way to reassure each other that everyone is safe.

5. Whistling

Whistling can occur spontaneously or as part of a song. It will be easy to recognize and sound like a human whistle, if not identical.

As with singing, cockatiels only whistle when they feel safe and in high spirits, willing to entertain themselves and others.

6. Chirping

A single or several chirps in the row means the cockatiel is occupied and feeling contented. Your cockatiel will chirp if it doesn’t feel like making a different sound.

Happy Cockatiel Behaviors

Cockatiels are expressive birds, and their interaction will tell you a lot about their mood. For example, a happy cockatiel will engage in behaviorsOpens in a new tab. such as:

1. Playing

Wild cockatiels spend their days foraging, investigating new objects, pecking at branches or bark, and teasing each other. Most of this activity is replaced at home with toys.

A happy cockatiel will play with bells, ropes, perches, and climbing toys. It will also love playing with you or its cage mates. You won’t find a happy cockatiel that turns down a chance to stay active.

2. Flying

Cockatiels enjoy walking and hopping, but flying is their favored way to travelOpens in a new tab..

Even if a cockatiel has nowhere to go, it will enjoy fluttering from perch to perch or soaring around your living room. Stretching its wings is the most natural thing, and a happy cockatiel will be eager to get moving.

However, different amounts of space were provided in aviaries for cockatiels to soar around. As a result, cockatiels took longer and more frequent flights, and their moods improved.

3. Grooming

Cockatiels love to groom and preen their feathers. If your cockatiel is in high spirits, you will find it contently removing feather dustOpens in a new tab., picking out dirt, and spreading natural oils over its plumage.

Happy cockatiels will preen one another, helping to reach spots around the head and back of the neck. So if your cockatiel tugs your hair or nibbles your skin, it’s preening you.

Cockatiels that don’t preen are often in poor spirits or feeling ill.

4. Good appetite

Cockatiels have enormous appetites for their size to compensate for their high-energy lifestyles. They must frequently eat throughout the day due to their quick metabolism.

If your cockatiel feels happy, it will eagerly eat seeds, pellets, vegetables, and fruits. So, for example, if you offer a piece of strawberry or lettuce, and your cockatiel keenly consumes it, you can be sure it’s happy.

A cockatiel that refuses to eat is usually sick, depressed, or both. The only exception is for new cockatiels to your home, as they may be too upset to eat during their first few days.

5. Sociable

Bonding with their owners and interacting with other cockatiels is a natural behavior when happy. However, cockatiels kept alone often get depressed and form destructive habits.

Cockatiels form stronger pair bonds with each other if a mirror is present because it makes them feel like they are in a flock.

However, this doesn’t apply to lone cockatiels confused by their reflection, growing disappointed by its lack of responsiveness.

If your cockatiel is in a good mood, it will want to spend time with you. It might climb up your arm to sit on your shoulder or nudge its face against yours.

Cockatiels love to dance and may scoot side-to-side or bob their bodies. In addition, cockatiels that can fly, dance, sing, preen, and engage in social activities are happier.

What Makes A Cockatiel Happy?

If you want a happy rise out of your cockatiel, you will need to provide it with the right environment. Cockatiels are easy to please, as long as you have the time to spare. So, here are what makes a cockatiel happy:

1. Right size cage

Make sure that you have the correct size cage for your cockatiel.

The cage should be large enough so that your cockatiel will have the opportunities to do their activities inside it.

But, if you do not provide a suitable cage for your cockatiel, it will need to spend more time outside to get the necessary exercise and mental stimulation.

2. Clean and tidy cage

Cockatiels shouldn’t always be kept in their cage, as it’s where they will sleep, eat, and spend their time when you are not home. So keeping the cage tidy, sanitized, and smelling fresh is essential.

Cockatiels are diligent groomers, so clean the cage at least once a week or as required.

3. Cage activities

Cockatiels need to be entertained to stay happy, which can be achieved by providing:

  • Toys in different shapes, colors, and textures
  • At least three comfortable perches hung at different levels
  • A variety of foods to make mealtimes interesting
  • Bell toys that can be knocked around and pecked at
  • Puzzle toys that keep cockatiels engaged.

However, environmental enrichment can decrease abnormal and destructive behaviors.

Feather plucking and restless pacing are less common when cockatiels are kept entertained.

4. Offer the proper diet

Cockatiels need a nutritious and varied diet to remain healthy and happy.

While this should mainly consist of a formulated diet of 50-70%, you can also mix in fresh produce. Cockatiels need flavor, color, and variety and will be happy when they receive that. The best options include:Opens in a new tab.

  • Seeds – such as sunflower and pumpkin seeds.
  • Fruits – such as bananas, mango, oranges, and strawberries.
  • Vegetables – such as carrots, lettuce, sweet potatoes, and cauliflower.
  • Nuts – such as almonds, hazelnuts, cashews, and brazil nuts.

5. Provide enough sleeping

Cockatiels require 10-12 hours of sleep each day. Therefore, they need a quiet and relatively dark placeOpens in a new tab. to get their necessary sleep each night.

Also, you should cover your cockatiel’s cage on three sides with a thing blanket at night. But don’t forget to let one side uncovered for air circulation.

You can also move the cage to a separate room with the lights off to ensure that your cockatiel gets enough sleep.

6. Bond and spend time together

Spend as much time with your cockatiel as you can. It is a social creature that needs stimulation and good company, perhaps more than anything else.

The happiest and most energetic cockatiels are those with close bonds with their owners. However, you can strengthen this bond by:

7. Provide a companion

If you can’t spend lots of time with your cockatiel, consider getting it a companion is a good option.

Wild cockatiels create flocks of up to 100 birds, so they are constantly surrounded by companions, loved ones, and company.

Providing your cockatiel a friend will fulfill its social needs and stave off loneliness. However, this shouldn’t replace the time you spend with the cockatiel(s) but can supplement it.

Cockatiels are intelligent, but they live simple lives. Cockatiels will be happy if they are healthy, well-cared for, kept entertained, and have food and water.


Cockatiels are showy birds, and you can quickly notice their moods. With this article, I hope that you will better understand all the signs of a happy cockatiel.

This will let you know that you properly take care of your cockatiel. Their happiness and affection toward you can make you happy as well.

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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