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Why Does My Cockatiel Shiver?


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.

A shivering cockatiel

 Probably one of the more common questions asked about a cockatiel’s behavior is based on birds shivering. In a normal and healthy cockatiel this is quite normal. In fact, humans also shiver but it’s usually not noticeable like in birds. Many owners discover their bird shaking and believe that there may be something wrong with their bird when in fact it’s a normal behavior. The shivering is more noticeable on the bird’s wings and thighs. In larger birds such as African Greys, Amazons, or Macaws, shivering can be seen more readily. This happens just because they are simply larger animals.

Though a slight shaking is normal, the owner should still use their best judgment when observing a shivering cockatiel. Shivering from illness is much more pronounced and the cockatiel will look as if it's lethargic. If the wings are drooping, the bird is sitting ruffled, is not responsive to human interaction, or its tail is bobbing, immediate attention should be given by a veterinarian. Usually when these symptoms are seen, the bird is experiencing some sort of bacterial infection or illness. If not taken to the veterinarian in time the bird could die.

If the bird cannot be seen by a veterinarian immediately, the bird should be placed under a heating lamp or placed into a brooder until the bird is taken to an avian veterinarian for further care. The best weapon when treating an ill cockatiel is raising the temperature to between 85°F to 90°F. This can be achieved with a digital thermometer, a heating light, brooder, or an incubator. If the bird is slightly opening its wings and panting, the heat is too high and needs to be reduced until the cockatiel is not panting. All food and water dishes should be placed into the brooder so the bird has easy access to them.

While waiting for the bird to be seen by a veterinarian, it is important the bird not be handled too much as it needs to rest. Any excessive stress placed upon the bird could do more harm than good.

It is important the owner know that shivering can also be a symptom of excessive stress, excitement, or irritation.

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