Taming a Biting Cockatiel

Cockatiels are members of the parrot family.

Cockatiels are members of the parrot family.

Any animal can bite. Cockatiels, which have strong, sharp beaks, can bite for a wide range of reasons, including fear, affection and even just trying to get your attention. Fortunately, it is relatively simple to train a cockatiel to keep his beak to himself.

Observe the conditions when your cockatiel decides to bite. Is it late in the day when the bird could be tired? Is it a young male cockatiel? Are other animals around? (In the latter case, cockatiels sometimes bite to "warn" you of perceived danger.)

Handle your cockatiel frequently. This will get him used to being around you.

Keep your cockatiel off your shoulder until he learns not to bite. This is a form of negative reinforcement, withholding something your bird wants until he behaves.

Pull your hand away whenever your cockatiel bites. Do not scold him, as cockatiels cannot distinguish between positive and negative attention.

Ignore the bird whenever he bites. Almost any attention could be viewed as positive, which reinforces biting as a negative behavior.

Clip your bird's wing feathers if he is a young male. This seems to calm young males down and make them less nippy.


  • Always remember: if a bird does something good, reward him with attention, treats or affection. If he does something bad, ignore him. Cockatiels often view any attention as good attention.


  • Do not hit or thump your bird's beak to punish him. This just makes tim afraid of people -- and more likely to bite.

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