Why Is My Cockatiel Bobbing His Head?

Why Is My Cockatiel Bobbing His Head?

As you become more familiar with your cockatiel, you may find that they do different things depending on their mood. For example, one of the things that can happen when your cockatiel gets a little older is that it will bob its head. But why is my cockatiel bobbing his head?

Why Is My Cockatiel Bobbing His Head? Your cockatiel will bob its head to attract more attention from its owners, and parents or to attract the opposite sex for mating. Leaving your cockatiel alone can make them a little bit bored, and they will choose to bob their head up and down as a way of having fun.

There are many different reasons why your cockatiel will choose to bob its head up and down. It will often depend on the situation around the cockatiel.

Male cockatiels often do this when they want to find a new mate to attract attention if there is a female bird nearby.

Baby cockatiel usually bobs their head to get their parents’ attention or when they are hungry and want to eat.

In some cases, cockatiels may bob their head because they are bored.

What Does Cockatiel Head Bobbing Mean?

What Does Cockatiel Head Bobbing Mean?

Head bobbing is a common behavior for cockatiels. Seeing your cockatiel moving its head up and down for the first time may seem strange, especially with no obvious explanation.

Cockatiels express themselves through various types of body language. Every movement they make has specific and often several meanings, such as bobbing heads up and down.

In most cases, when a cockatiel bobs its head up and down it means that it feels good or wants attention. You will know if your cockatiel is bobbing its head up and down for a good reason if it’s also singing or making happy soundsOpens in a new tab..

It may have also observed you bobbing your head up and down and is now imitating you. Cockatiels enjoy imitating the sounds and movements they observe in their environment.

Here are some reasons why your cockatiel may bobbing its head:


Cockatiels are active and social birds that always like to have something to do. However, if your cockatiel has run out of things to keep it entertained, it may be bobbing its head because it’s bored.

If boredom is the case, your cockatiel may combine head bobbing with other destructive behaviors, such as feather plucking or flying wildly.

In the wild, cockatiels spend most of their time foraging and building nests, but in captivity, they often lack stimulating activities.

If you lock your cockatiel in the cage for a long time and they have no interaction with other birds or humans, it may be getting bored.

To prevent your cockatiel from getting bored you can provide them with toys and objects to chew on.

The addition of perches or swings can also give variation to their habitat. The placement of mirrorsOpens in a new tab. and the provision of social interaction with humans or other birds can help stimulate your feathered friend.

Wants attention

The cockatiel may bob its head to get your attention for reasons other than boredom. If your cockatiel is bobbing its head while looking at you it means that it looking for attention.

If your cockatiel hasn’t seen you for a long time, or simply wants to spend time with you it may start bobbing its head, begin moving around the cage, chirping, and making other noisesOpens in a new tab..

Also, If you have multiple birds, your cockatiel may be seeking attention because it feels neglected or jealousOpens in a new tab. that you are giving more attention to other birds.

Sometimes, cockatiels simply desire human interaction.


Head bobbing as a sign of hunger is the most noticeable in the baby cockatiels that are still being handfed.

Adult cockatiels do not exhibit this behavior.

When a baby cockatiel is constantly bobbing its head and its crop is empty, it is time for another feeding.

Ensure that you adhere to the required quantity and time of feeding for a baby of that age.


Cockatiels can dance, and they have rhythm. The cockatiels were trained to tap in rhythm with the tempos.

After mastering the task, they could tap in sync to slow and faster tempos and even began leading the beat.

However, if your cockatiel is bobbing its head whenever you play musicOpens in a new tab., it’s likely because it saw you doing the same thing at some point and is mimicking you.

Play music with different tempos and beats, and watch as your cockatiel attempts to keep up.

To show aggression

The cockatiel may sometimes bob its head to show a little aggression. However, this is usually territorial aggression and is slightly different from showing direct aggression toward others.

Cockatiels will bob their heads up and down to warn others that they are in their territory and that they need to back off.

If other birds try to enter this territory, the cockatiel will bob its head up and down, showing that it can be the most significant and worst bird around. The other birds are likely to back down to avoid any confrontation at that time.

If you don’t own a cockatiel, you will probably need to keep your distance if you notice it bobs its head when you approach them. This may occur more frequently while bringing a new cockatiel home.

In addition, if you already have a cockatiel at home and wish to add another, the first bird will grow more territorial and demand more space. The best way to prevent this aggression is to put them in a different cage.

Happy or excited

Cockatiels will bob their heads to show they are happy or excited about something. It may be as simple as observing you enter a room.

Usually, head bobbing is accompanied by other indicators of happiness, such as chirping, whistling, or fluffing their feathersOpens in a new tab..

This behavior can also be observed when the cockatiel displays evidence of affection, such as when it is pettedOpens in a new tab., talked to, given a treat, or when it is near its favorite person or another bird.

Occasionally your cockatiel bobs its head for no apparent reason, and it may simply do so because it is excited and happy with what is going on around it.


Some cockatiels may show unusual behaviors when stressed out, such as head bobbing, screamingOpens in a new tab., pacing, or toe-tapping.

Cockatiels can become stressed out for various reasons, such as changes in their environment, adding a new bird to its cage, or unusually loud noises.

They may also become stressed if they have been cooped up in their cage for an extended period of time. Allowing your cockatiel to fly around and expand its wings will help to reduce its stress and return it to a more contented mindset.


Sometimes cockatiels will involuntarily bob their heads because they have an illness causing it. If the head bobbing is accompanied by periods of closing their eyesOpens in a new tab., it may indicate a severe illness.

If the cause is a problem with the head, brain, or an ear infection, the head may tilt to one side.

Also, If you observe your cockatiel bobbing its head and suspect that it is ill, it is important to take your bird to a vet for examination. This is because no one illness causes cockatiels to bob their heads, and a vet can help identify any underlying health issues and provide appropriate treatment.


You may frequently observe the birds walking outside with their heads bobbing. Birds bob their heads to maintain balance while they concentrate their eyes on something, so it is a natural behavior for them.

Their head movement helps them maintain their equilibrium, sharpens their vision, and provides them with depth perception.

Do Male Cockatiels Bob Their Heads When Looking for a Mate?

Male cockatiels often bob their heads to attract a female as a mate.

In addition to bobbing their heads, they will also execute a mating dance, during which they may flash their feathers at the female and make flirting sounds.

While the male and female cockatiels are in the same cage, the male will continue to bob its head at the female until she gives in, at which point they will mate.

As the female begins making flirtatious sounds and builds a nest for her eggs, the male knows that the female wants to mate with him.

Also, there are situations when the male and female are put in separate cages. In that case, the male will likely continue to bob its head at the female and likely won’t stop until the female tells him that she is not interested.

However, if there is a mirror in your cockatiel’s cage, your cockatiel may start trying to impress his reflection thinking it’s another bird.

Do Baby Cockatiels Bob Their Heads?

Do Baby Cockatiels Bob Their Heads?

Baby cockatiels also bob their heads. They often do this to get their parents’ attention or when they are hungry. As babies begin to wean themselves from their parents, they will start to fly from one seat to another. Babies will respond to this by crying and bobbing their heads, hoping to get more attention.

This will continue until the baby cockatiels become independent of their parents and they decide to explore.

Why Is My Female Cockatiel Bobbing Her Head?

Female cockatiels bob their heads for the same reasons as males. However, there are two additional reasons for this behavior in females, each centering around regurgitation:

Feeding mates

Feeding their mates through regurgitationOpens in a new tab. signifies a deep bond exists between two cockatiels.

Cockatiels need to bob their heads to work food up from their crop to regurgitate. In this case, the bobbing itself is not intentional but merely a byproduct of the regurgitation process.

Sometimes, cockatiels will regurgitate food on their mirrors and favorite toys.

Feeding offspring

If the cockatiel has newly hatched chicks, it may often bob its head, particularly during feeding times. This is due to the process of regurgitating the slightly digested food coated in crop milk from its crop.

The more chicks the cockatiel has, the more laborious the feeding process and the more pronounced the head bobbing will be.

Cockatiel Bobbing Head While Eating

Although this behavior is not common in cockatiels, they can sometimes bob their heads while eating. When the cockatiel eats, it uses its beak to easily chew and ingest the food you are providing to it.

This can sometimes look like the cockatiel is bobbing its head, but it is not always the same as when the bird is bobbing its head to show happiness or curiosity.

If you notice that your cockatiel is bobbing its head excessively while eating, it may be a symptom or sign of a health problem or pain. On the other hand, some birds may bob their heads while feeding to clean their throats or reduce discomfort in their crop or digestive tract.

However, if you are concerned about this cockatiel’s behavior, it is recommended to visit a specialized veterinarian in order to rule out any underlying health problems and ensure that your cockatiel is receiving the proper care to be healthy.

Cockatiel Bobbing Head And Screaming

Cockatiel Bobbing Head And Screaming

If your cockatiel is bobbing its head and screaming it means that your bird is expressing a range of emotions, from joy to distress or discomfort.

Cockatiels have a natural tendency to bob their heads, and they will do that mostly when satisfied, happy, or curious.

But, if the head-bobbing is accompanied by screams or other weird behaviors, it may be a sign that your cockatiel is in trouble or discomfort.

Is It Normal for My Cockatiel to Bob Their Head?

Yes, head bobbing is considered normal behavior for cockatiels. Most cockatiels do this when they are bored, and then they will do everything to attract the attention of others to help them pass their time faster.

There are also situations when cockatiels can do this when they do not feel well, although this is not common.

You need to look at some of the other signs shown by the cockatiel to determine if this is the case or not. But, if you are ever worried and cannot figure out why your cockatiel is bobbing its head, then it is best to talk to your veterinarian about this.


Your cockatiel may sometimes choose to bob its head occasionally. If you have never had a cockatiel before, this may seem a little strange, and it is normal to be curious and wonder why your cockatiel does this so often.

For the most part, your cockatiel will bob its head to attract more attention or mark territory. Whatever the reason is, cockatiels do this often.

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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