home birds forum contact
 facebook facebook

Why Does My Cockatiel Shake its Head?


Listed below are common behavior problems reported in pet cockatiels. Simply click the question below for more information. If your questions cannot be found here, please visit or main cockatiel section or stop by our parrot forum and post your questions.

 cockatiel Head Shaking

 A cockatiel will shake its heads for many reasons—both young and old. The most obvious reason is due to food on their beaks. Cockatiels are very clean animals and cannot tolerate a dirty beak. To keep them clean, many cockatiels will rub their beaks along their perches and shake their head to remove any excess food. This can be seen when the birds are eating messy foods such as fruits or vegetables.

Cockatiel Head Bobbing in Males

In mature male cockatiels, head shaking can sometimes be confused with head bobbing. Head bobbing is a behavior used primarily by male cockatiels but does occur in females as well. Males will bob their heads with their wings slightly open while whistling or talking. This is considered a courtship behavior and males do this to impress their owners or other female cockatiels. This behavior is normal and every cockatiel will act this ritual out. Each bird develops its own style. Some males will keep their crests up, some will keep their mouths open, and others will open their tail slightly. This bobbing is sometimes rhythmic and this can give the owner the impression the bird is dancing.

Head Bobbing in Both Males and Female Cockatiels

Head bobbing is also done by both mature females and males alike as part of a food regurgitation process. Sometimes a cockatiel will become so involved with their owners that they do this food regurgitation as a gift to their owners. This behavior is usually brought about through excessive petting as this emulates cockatiel courtship. Males and females will exchange food as a sign of affection between the pair. It is also perhaps because this behavior is used during the practice of feeding baby cockatiels. If this becomes problematic, the owner should distract the bird before he/she regurgitates.

Cockatiel Head Bobbing in Babies

All baby cockatiels will bob their heads up and down when being fed. This bobbing action is actually a behavior that allows them to pump food further into their crops. When babies are fed, both adult birds and babies exhibit this behavior. As the babies mature, this will eventually fade away and the bobbing behavior will dwindle.

Stay Connected

Subscribe to our newsletter for the latest news.