Caring for Cockatiels’ Nose And Nostrils: All You Need To Know

Got a cockatiel with a runny or itchy nose? This guide will give you all the information you need for caring for a cockatiel’s nose and nostrils

Every cockatiel will, at least once in their life, end up with a runny nose. Just like us, birds are bound to get sick.

But it’s up to us as their owners to find out what’s wrong. A runny nose can point to a number of things.

Regardless of your bird’s color mutations, it will have a pink-colored cere above its nose.

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    In this article, I will help you learn more about what your bird is going through when it starts sneezing or itching its cere.

    Caring for Cockatiels Nose And Nostrils

    Towards the end, I have also put in a table summarizing the common respiratory problems in cockatiels, with symptoms and likely treatment.

    Stay tuned to learn a lot about your bird’s nose!

    Cockatiel Nostril Issues: What Causes Them?

    A healthy bird will have a clean, soft, and smooth nasal area. There will be no deposits, sores, or secretions.

    However, nostril issues are all too common, and even infections as common as a cold require intervention and care. Here are some common causes for nostril issues in cockatiels:


    Infections usually arise from either bacteria or fungus. The most common way of getting a fungal infection is from dirty, moldy air.

    In fact, mold can also cause lifelong breathing problems in humans – but pet birds are especially susceptible.

    Lack of sunlight and fresh, flowing air can contribute to this problem.

    A common sign of bacterial infection may arise as a sinus that refuses to go away, even with treatment.

    Quick identification and treatment are necessary in this case. The usual treatment consists of antibiotics or a fungicide.

    Additionally, a lack of vitamin A can make your bird more susceptible to infections. This is something the vet can check after initial treatment and provide solutions for.


    There are many chemicals we use in our daily life which are too strong for birds. This includes bleach, household cleansers, and other pesticides.

    These chemicals can irritate the bird’s nasal passages and cause respiratory diseases in the long run.

    Fungii, mold and bacteria can all cause nose problems in cockatiels

    Never use strong chemicals to clean your cockatiel’s cage. Instead, opt for pet-safe antibacterial sprays and powders.

    If you are fumigating your house or are getting it painted, keep your bird’s cage at a safe distance from the area or outside.

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      Mite infestations are not common, but they can still happen. Thankfully, they are the easiest to identify.

      Infected birds will have clinical signs like sores on their face that dry up into a white material.

      Initially, these scaly face mites attack the face and beak region. If you don’t treat your bird in time, the mites can spread further down.

      Mites can be treated with antiparasitic medication. This medication can be in the form of a spray, powder, or oral medication.

      You can also use olive oil and rub it onto your bird’s feathers and then rinse it off after 20 minutes.

      Another home remedy is to use neem (margosa) leaf mixed with water to bathe your bird.


      Debris is just a fancy term for dirt. It can come from food particles, mucus, tail or feather dust, or any other foreign body that is stuck in your bird’s nares or nasal passages.

      Generally, birds can get rid of these by sneezing or using their claws.

      But if they cannot, you might see your bird with a congested nose. You will be able to identify the change since the blockage will most likely be visible.

      Vets usually treat this by offering saline drops to dislodge the object.

      Debris in a birds nose can cause sneezing


      Cockatiels are wild birds native to Australia and have evolutionarily developed to live in arid environments.

      Due to their popularity as pets, they are found on almost every continent now.

      But while they survive across a variety of climates – dryness can still cause respiratory tract problems for these birds.

      They are used to the humid environments of the tropics; hence cold, dry air does not suit them.

      Keeping them in an air-conditioned environment is counter-intuitive to their natural instincts. If you live in a dry zone, invest in a humidifier to keep the humidity pleasant.

      However, remember to clean it regularly so that it does not become a dust magnet.

      Common Nose & Nostril Issues: Symptoms & What To Do

      So, let me now head on to common issues that you might see in your bird every once in a while.

      Keep in mind that most of these have roots in one or the other reason that I mentioned earlier.

      Cockatiel Nose Clogged

      A clogged nostril can signify many things. I have already discussed some of the most common issues of a clogged nostril above.

      The first thing to do is narrow down to the actual cause of it. A runny nose is typically a sign that your bird has sinusitis or a cold.

      If you notice your bird sneezing more than usual, it could be that its nose is congested. Sores or white deposits mean your bird has mites.

      Cockatiels with cold-like symptoms can easily get dehydrated. Give them lots of water, and add some salt to ease congestion.

      Try to increase the humidity of the place they are in and take them away from dusty zones.

      Monitor your bird, but if their symptoms don’t improve and if you notice your bird becoming more and more lethargic, then visit the vet immediately.

      A runny nose is likely due to sinusitis or cold

      Cockatiel Nose Bleeding

      Bleeding is a sign of something gone wrong, it is not going to be a simple problem that you can solve by relocating your bird or cleaning its cage.

      If you notice your cockatiel bleeding from its nose, try to stop the flow by using a cloth and applying minimal pressure.

      Your next stop has to be at the vet’s office.

      Frequent nosebleeds can also be a sign of Psittacosis. This is an infectious disease that affects birds and can also spread to humans.

      It majorly attacks their respiratory system but also results in an enlarged spleen and liver.

      In birds, it is not fatal and can be treated with antibiotics as long as it is caught early on. A visit to the vet should be able to take care of it.

      However, keep in mind that the disease can also spread to humans and has similar symptoms to the flu.

      Cockatiel Nostrils Wet

      Constantly wet nostrils can point to either a cold or mites.

      If your sick bird has a wet nose and also exhibits constant sneezing, fluffed up, ruffled feathers, and lethargy – it could be a cold.

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        On the other hand, if you notice their ceres are watery with eventual scaly deposits – it could be mites.

        For colds, it’s best to visit a vet. A cold can often be a symptom of something larger, and it is important to eliminate any possibilities.

        If your bird catches cold frequently, you are either keeping them in a drafty place, or your bird lacks vitamins.

        For mites, you can get bird mite powder and dust your cockatiel with it.

        If your bird likes baths, you can mix tea tree and olive oil, lather it on your bird and bathe them 20 minutes later. Alternatively, you can visit a vet for the right mite spray.

        Wet nostrils can point to either mites or a cold

        Runny Nose

        A general runny nose or continuous nasal discharge usually points to a lack of vitamin A. If your cockatiel does not exhibit other signs of illness, you can try to resolve this by improving its diet.

        Do not give your birds an all-seed diet. Instead, give them pelleted diets with fruits, vegetables, and mineral blocks.

        If their health does not improve, they need to visit a vet to get a proper antibiotic treatment plan. Fungal infections can also cause a constantly runny nose.

        Cockatiel Nostrils Blocked

        Usually, you should be able to see up your cockatiel’s nasal cavity.

        If you see something blocking it – this could be a possible congestion that your bird cannot get rid of through sneezing or clawing.

        The most common way to clear congestion is through a saline drop or by giving your bird a saline bath in slightly warm water.

        If the debris is left in too long, it can harden into a permanent entity. This can permanently block your cockatiel’s nose or even change the internal structure of their nare.

        If this happens, visit a vet who will know the correct way to soften and remove the debris.

        Cockatiel Nose or Nostril Swelling

        Swelling of a cockatiel’s face or region around its eyes is also a symptom of sinusitis.

        This is probably due to nasal congestion, and you will even notice their cere or nostril region swelling up.

        Extreme swelling and rough feathers around the face can even require surgical draining – though this is a rare and exceptional case.

        Most birds get better with antibiotics. Closely monitor your bird’s weight and activity during this time to notice any changes.

        Swelling is also a sign of sinusitis


        If you notice staining in the region above your bird’s nose, it could be a result of a long-term illness that has not yet been treated.

        Staining can be due to continuous discharge over the years from

        • Infections from bacteria and fungi
        • A deficiency of vitamin A leads to continuous nasal issues
        • Sores from mites.

        Sometimes, female cockatiels suffer from an imbalance in their sex hormones which can cause nasal staining.

        Boogers in a Cockatiels Nose

        A healthy bird will have transparent nasal discharge. If you are able to see any boogers within their cavity, it means your bird is probably suffering from congestion.

        Notice if their nasal discharge is now thick or of a different color. If so, visit a vet for the best course of action.

        Another way to initially take care of congestion is to allow your cockatiel to spend some time in a steamed bath. This will help soften the debris for your bird to sneeze out.

        Why Is My Cockatiels Nose Red?

        If you can see reddish hues in your bird’s nasal cavities – it means that they have an irritated nose due to either an infection or mites.

        Either way, red noses are a cause of immediate concern.

        Segregate the sick bird to stop the spread of any infectious disease. The vet will be able to run diagnostic tests to tell you the exact cause of it.

        In some parrot species (like parakeets), a red nose can be a sign of deeper issues like tumors.

        How To Clean a Cockatiels Nose?

        The best way to avoid a cockatiel nose that needs cleaning is to keep the cockatiel cages clean and free from dander.

        Cockatiels shed a lot of feather powder. Keep them in a humid, dust-free zone.

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          Keep cages clean, because cockatiels shed a lot of dust

          How Do You Flush a Bird Nares?

          You can clean a bird’s nares by performing a nasal rinse. But this is a difficult step and should only be done by trained professionals. The usual steps are:

          • Place saline water in a syringe.
          • Hold your bird such that its head is hanging lower than its body
          • Place the syringe in a nostril and flush it out. Repeat for the other.

          Untrained bird owners can try to cleanse using a handkerchief. Find a soft tissue, and fold it to form a sharp triangle corner. Insert this into your bird’s nose to soak some of the mucus.

          How To Get Your Cockatiel To Do Steaming?

          A steam bath is a great way to help your cockatiel clear his nostrils. Even for healthy birds, steam baths are encouraged as a way to get rid of their excess feather dander.

          It also helps to soften their pin feathers, which is great for young birds or during the molting season. To do this:

          • Take your cockatiel into a bathroom or an enclosed space for the procedure.
          • Run the steam bath and allow the space to mist up.
          • Place your cockatiel on your hand and keep them at a safe distance from the steam. Allow the bird to inhale and sneeze. Keep your bird in a good grip to prevent them from flying or tumbling into the hot water.

          Do not keep your bird in the steam bath for too long. Cockatiels can easily overheat. If you notice any signs of panting, take them out immediately and wrapped in a soft towel to prevent sudden temperature changes.

          Using Spray Bottles and Tissue Paper?

          This is a common way of doing it if you are not trained. Take a soft tissue and spray some water on it. Mold it to form a pointy edge.

          Hold your bird still and use this edge to clean its nostrils. Your bird will try to move and escape due to tickling, but try to get as much of the mucus as you can.

          A tissue paper and a bottle of water can help get mucus out from your birds nostrils

          Common Respiratory Diseases In Pet Birds & Their Symptoms

          If you have pet birds, it’s best to be armed with information that can one day save them. Here are some common respiratory disease symptoms:

          DiseaseVisible symptomTreatment
          AspergillosisLaboured breathing, lack of energy, change of voice, and depressionAntifungal medications
          Avian InfluenzaRunny nose, labored breathing, common cold symptoms (or maybe no symptoms at all)Antiviral drugs
          Hypersensitivity PneumonitisCoughing, sinusitis, lethargy, signs of distress due to chest painOxygen, followed by glucocorticoids and anti-inflammatory medicine
          Newcastle DiseaseEyes or nostril discharge, yellow-green diarrhea, spasms, depression, uncoordinated movementNo cure
          Air sac mitesMild: no signHeavy: Excessive salivation, open-mouth breathing, gaspingAntiparasitic medication
          GapewormsGaspingDe-worming treatments
          SarcocystosisVomit, lethargyAntiprotozoal medications with supportive care

          Frequently Asked Questions

          How Do You Get Seeds Out of a Bird’s Nose?

          The first step should be a steam bath. The warmth can sometimes loosen up the chia or grass seed for the cockatiel to sneeze out.
          Alternatively, take them to the vet. In the worst scenario, the vet will open its nose to take out the seed and then provide treatment for the cut.

          Do I need to clean my bird’s nose?

          Regular steam baths are good for cockatiels as it helps to keep their nasal passage clear.
          Apart from this, you do not need to clean their nose other than if a situation for this arises. Don’t attempt nose rinses by yourself without trained personnel to assist you.

          Do cockatiels need humidifiers?

          It’s a good idea to get a humidifier if you live in a dry place. A humidifier will allow you to keep the humidity around your bird more similar to a cockatiel’s natural tropical habitat.
          But do be mindful that humidifiers can collect dust and deposits, and need to be cleaned regularly for them to be effective.

          Why is my bird’s nose crusty?

          A crusty nose with deposits or sores means your bird has mites. Bird mites are parasites that are found in pets, wild birds, and poultry.
          You can treat mites using a mite spray or powder found over the counter. Consult a vet if the situation does not improve.

          Can I put coconut oil on my bird’s beak?

          Sometimes during the winter season, you might notice that your cockatiel’s beak looks dry.
          Coconut oil is a great moisturizer that can keep your cockatiel’s beak strong, glowing, and healthy. You can also feed them small amounts as it is healthy in vitamins.

          Wrap Up

          Nostrils can be a good giveaway for many diseases. Aviary birds kept in isolation from wild birds will usually not catch mites or bacteria.

          But they can still catch a cold from draughts and fungal infections from mold.

          As with any case, prevention is better than cure. Immediate treatment is better than a later one. Thank you for reading, and let me know if you have any questions in the comments below!

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