Why is My Cockatiel Shaking: 6 Possible Reasons

Cockatiels are popular as pet birds. In fact, they are the second most popular pet bird species around the world. As they are cute and friendly, any unusual behavior of these birds can easily make you panic as an owner; and shaking is one of them. However, it’s not alarming all the time.

Why is my cockatiel shaking? Pet birds like cockatiel experience shivering for numerous complex reasons. This includes temperature fall, illness, fear, and stress. Generally, it is a sign of positivity. Besides, curiosity, excitement, and an urge to greet can shake the bird.

So, no matter what, you need to have a clear idea to be able to differentiate the reasons behind shaking. Here, keep reading to explore six potential reasons your cockatiel might be shaking. You will also get tips about the solutions to take from this article.

Why is My Cockatiel Shaking?

Let’s look at the six possible reasons why your cockatiel might be shaking:

1. Feeling Chilly

Cockatiels have a behavioral dependency on temperature. A sudden temperature drop can deteriorate your cockatiel’s health. They are comfortable in a temperature range of 65-80oF.

So, if it’s below that, your bird will feel cold; and this might cause it to shake. Moreover, if you just washed your bird with water, it’s pretty natural that it would shake from the chillness.

2. Feeling unwell

You need to check a few things to confirm this:

  • Your bird’s wings
  • Its response to your call
  • Appearance of feathers
  • Behavioral changes

If these characteristics are not as they should be, your bird is probably sick. However, some cockatiels are different by born. You can only be sure about its sickness after thoroughly checking the symptoms.

The symptoms include

  • Coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Reluctance to eat

If your bird is sick, it’ll shake from time to time.

3. Frightened

These birds get scared very easily; even the noise of something falling can scare them. If you change the lighting of the room, it can scare the bird. It’s pretty typical behavior in birds. You will see it fluffing up and shaking afterward.

4. Stressed

This one is hard to find as cockatiels love to hide some behaviors So you need to closely observe its overall situation to be sure.

The things that can stress this bird are:

  • Change in environment
  • Relocation of the cage
  • Losing its favorite toy

It will try to be busy by shaking or shivering if it’s stressed.

5. Relaxing

Shaking is a common trait in birds before sleep. Hence, whenever your cockatiel is puffed up and sleepy, you’ll see it shaking. To be sure, look at the timing of sleep. If it falls asleep right after shaking, you can relax about it.

6. Excited

If you’re playing with your bird and see it shaking in the middle, it’s also nothing to worry about. Shivers out of extreme excitement are common not only in humans but also in animals.

Why Is My Cockatiel Shaking Its Head?

When a cockatiel shakes its head, it’s not the same as shaking its body. The circumstances differ. Let’s see why it makes this type of gesture:

1.  Out of Curiosity

If your bird is curious about anything from its surroundings, it will often shake its head. This is a normal gesture and nothing to panic about.

2. Trying to Remove Something from Its Beak

While eating or doing any other activity, things get stuck on the beak of a cockatiel from time to time. And it’s an irritating feeling to have. So the bird tries to dispose of the irritation by shaking its head.

3. Going through Hormonal Changes

Hormonal changes occur in cockatiels. Moreover, they get the urge to establish their own territory too. Whenever these things happen, you will see the bird shaking its head.

In addition to that, this will be joined by some weird noises and biting tendencies. And it might answer your question, “Why is my cockatiel biting me?”. It’s better to leave the bird alone at this stage.

4. It’s A Greeting!

Many birds shake their head as a way to greet. In other words, your cockatiel might just be happy to see you. Thus, it’s greeting you by shaking its head.

However, if there is a potential mating candidate in the room, this shake can also be to attract that candidate.

5. A Sign of Respiratory Disease

Birds like cockatiels easily get affected by respiratory diseases, according to a study by VCA hospitals. The possible causes are

  • Bacteria
  • Fungi
  • Imbalanced Diet

The bird shakes its head when this disease gets serious. It’s a sign of extreme discomfort.

6. Your Cockatiel is Throwing up

It’s common for tender cockatiels to get food stuck in the crop region. Whenever this happens, the bird tries to throw up constantly to get rid of the stuck food. And this is accompanied by the shaking of the head.

What Should I Do in These Cases?

Some of the shivers of your cockatiel are normal. But there could be problematic situations too. Let’s see the problems and discuss what you can do to solve them:

TemperatureDon’t change the temperature randomlyLet your bird gradually get accustomed to the temperature
SicknessClosely observe the body language of the CockatielTake it to a renowned vet as soon as you suspect a disease
FearTry to ensure a quiet environment for the birdDon’t change the lighting of the room randomly
StressGive your Cockatiel enough time to adjust to anything newThe new thing can be a cage, a new room, or a new house
Respiratory DiseaseEnsure proper nutritionKeep the cage and the room neat and clean to prevent contamination
VomitingTry to make the food as small as possibleDon’t force the bird to eat

How Do Cockatiels Usually Behave?

As we have discussed already, not all kinds of shivering are concerning. They are common traits in most wild birds.

To know more about cockatiel behavior, have a look at this video. This video will give you a clear idea about all the situations of your bird.

Why Is My Cockatiel Shaking Its Tail?

This is a sign of enjoyment of the cockatiels. When life is at ease and everything seems contenting, the bird usually shakes its tail to express inner peace.

Nevertheless, this can also be a sign of illness. You need to notice the way the tail is being shaken and other accompanying signs to find out the real reason.


To clarify further doubts, here are answers to some commonly asked questions.

What are the signs of illness in Cockatiels?

The signs of illness in Cockatiels include loss of appetite, lethargy, tiredness, quietness, weight loss, etc.

How do you relax a Cockatiel?

If the room doesn’t have sufficient light, ensure the lighting at first. Afterward, try to move the cage a bit. Then start talking to your bird in a mild and caring tone. This will help your cockatiel to calm down.

Key Takeaways

Most of the shivers of a cockatiel are for positive reasons. However, some gestures will be difficult to disclose if you don’t observe carefully. Therefore, if you want to be reassured, it’s better to take it to a vet for a check-up. Even if everything turns out to be fine, it will give you peace of mind.

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