How Do Cockatiels Show Affection?

Most cockatiels enjoy being petted and will solicit pats.
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Once bonded to you, a cockatiel will be very demonstrative of his feelings. Noise, movement and body language all help your feathered friend show affection. Regular playtime and socialization are a must for these inquisitive birds and can increase the affection between you and your 'tiel.


Cockatiels make excited noises when they are happy to see owners, just like people do when they greet friends. Signs of affection include chirping, singing and even banging bird toys against the cage bars. Cockatiels are not big talkers overall, but do make noise to show excitement and affection. On the other hand, a quiet 'tiel that hisses as your approach isn't in the mood for human interaction.


A happy 'tiel will often move back and forth as you approach, or jump to the front of the cage in anticipation of being let out. Once out, a cockatiel will bend down his head so you can pet him. If your 'tiel isn't in the mood to play, he will just sit on the perch as you approach.

Physical Affection

Once out of the cage, an affectionate cockatiel will often flock to your shoulder to perch. Your cockatiel may nibble at your jewelry or play with your hair. He may try to groom your eyebrows. Cockatiels do nip, but physical affection should feel gentle rather than painful.

Cockatiel Crest

Your bird's crest can clue you in to his mood. When a cockatiel's crest is pressed back against his head, he's on guard or hostile. Likewise, when it is fully erect, or perpendicular to his head, he's on high alert and suspicious. When the crest lies in between, he's relaxed to inquisitive. Approach your pet when he's in the relaxed or inquisitive mode and showing other signs of affection.

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