Why Do Cockatiels Bob Their Heads?

She's so stylin', she's just gotta bob that head!

She's so stylin', she's just gotta bob that head!

“Shake your feathers, step to the right ... step to the left ... bob your head.” This could be a cockatiel party dance song, given how your feathery friend loves to bob her little head. It’s actually body language used for several purposes, so get to know what your bird is saying.

Baby Head Bobbing

When your baby cockatiel bobs her head during feedings from her parents, it's to push the food further down her crop. As she grows older, this action will gradually fade away. When she is unweaned or very young, she may also be communicating that she is hungry -- “Feed me, Mommy!”

Head Bobbing in Males

Your full-grown male cockatiel bobs his head as a courtship behavior -- “Hey, pretty lady, I’m over here! Let’s get together for some food.” While he’s bobbing, he may whistle and hold his wings slightly open. If you don’t have a female cockatiel for him to attract, he’ll try to court you -- it’s completely normal, so cancel that bird behaviorist appointment. It’s instinctive to all cockatiels to bob and attract others, because they’re just so dang cute! Your bird will develop his own stylin’ head bob, so look for an open mouth or upraised head crest. Beware of his “gifts” -- it’s tradition for cockatiel guys and gals to exchange food by regurgitating food they have just eaten. This is not a pleasant thought, so you may want to distract your birdie before he deposits on your shoulder.

Equal Opportunity Head Bobbing

Head bobbing isn’t limited to the male half of the cockatiel population. No, the females want in on this action as well. It’s a part of the courtship process for both females and males to regurgitate and exchange the food with each other -- oh, yuck! If you love to pet your little bird during your “together time,” she may interpret this as a courtship behavior and you could end up wearing a gift. Consider yourself warned.

Food or Attention

It’s not hard to divide up the intended communication for babies and adults. Head bobbing in a baby cockatiel usually communicates hunger. In an adult cockatiel, the intended communication is “Gimme attention now, Mom!” Of course, she could be so pleased with her appearance, she’s just showing off her fine, feathered appearance.

 

About the Author

I have always loved to write (developing an idea, research, putting the people, situations and setting onto the paper or keyboard). While I chose social work as my first career, I have always maintained the dream in my soul of writing "someday". My social work career ended, and after some years bouncing around in different fields, I decided to follow my old dream and returned to school. I earned my Journalism degree in December, 2006. I am currently in the process of outlining my first book and eagerly grabbing every chance I can to practice my craft. One of those opportunities is to submit a short story -- I am modifying the beginning of my book into a suitable short story, and I hope to submit (and see it in print) before very long.{{}}

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