If you find your cockatiel hissing at you all of a sudden, there is a good reason to be disconcerted. I will discuss why this happens, and what all you should do in this guide.
Like all pet parents, bird owners need to understand the behavior of their feathered friends to be able to cater to their needs properly.
If your bird shows aggressive behavior, you need to look into the reason and fix the problem that might be upsetting it.
Cockatiels hiss for several reasons, and it’s usually a bad sign.
If you aren’t sure why your bird is hissing and how you can help it, don’t worry. We will cover the reasons and solutions that you can try.
Why Do Cockatiels Hiss?
Cockatiels communicate in a variety of ways – squawking, whistling, singing, and even a random chirp now and then.
The variety of sounds is an indication of their intelligence.
The hissing sound is just another way of communication. However, unlike the songs and chirps of a happy cockatiel, it conveys discontent or discomfort.
A hissing cockatiel is generally scared, irritated, or feeling distressed about something.
You’ll have to carefully listen to the type of hissing and evaluate the circumstances to identify the exact cause.
Common reasons why cockatiels hiss includes:
If a cockatiel seems to be hissing for no reason, it could be because the bird is hormonal and seeks a mate.
Wild cockatiels become hormonal during the mating season after the spring rains.
For pet cockatiels kept at home, this might occur at any time of the year as they can’t keep track of the seasons.
When a cockatiel is feeling hormonal but cannot find a partner, it gets frustrated and starts hissing.
While cockatiels aren’t very territorial, the nesting season is an exception.
A female cockatiel might get into territorial fights with other pets who try to approach her cage or favorite hiding spot during the nesting season.
Your otherwise friendly cockatiel might even get aggressive and hiss at you during this time.
Do keep in mind that as cockatiels living in indoor settings cannot keep track of the nesting season that well, they can get territorial at other times too.
This is especially true if you have other pets that might be invading the cockatiel’s personal space.
Male cockatiels may also hiss as a part of their courtship ritual. In this case, it’s non-aggressive and positive hissing – there’s nothing to worry about.
However, if you have both male and female cockatiels and find a male cockatiel hissing at another male, he’s likely competing for a mate.
By hissing, he seeks to repel its rival and get the female cockatiel of his choice as his mate.
Cockatiels actively express their dislike towards something by hissing.
You might notice this behavior when you put something in a cockatiel’s cage – especially food that the bird doesn’t like.
By hissing, they try to convey their distaste to you.
Another common scenario where a cockatiel might hiss to express its dislike is when you forget to remove residual food from the cage, and it starts to smell bad.
Cockatiels prefer to live in a clean place, and foul odors might annoy the bird.
Fear of Someone or Something
Prey animals by nature, cockatiels are easily scared. Although they are fond of human interaction and can build close bonds with their owners, they’re always wary of strangers.
Your avian friend might hiss at an unfamiliar person in the house, especially if he/she gets close to the cage.
Apart from people, other pets can also frighten cockatiels.
The bird would not only see a new animal in the house as a potential threat but might also fear rivalry for all the love and affection.
Lastly and very importantly, hissing might also be a sign that the cockatiel is in pain.
Now, you might be wondering why your pet bird would hiss instead of seeking help when hurt.
Well, showing signs of weakness in the wild dooms small birds like cockatiels by marking them as easy prey.
When hurt, they hide it by hissing and acting aggressively instead. Even though a domesticated cockatiel doesn’t have to fear predators, the behavior still carries on.
When your feathered friend is hurt but doesn’t wish you to know, it might hiss when you try to get close.
If you suspect that the cockatiel might be wounded, don’t be cowed by the hissing and take a close look.
Cockatiel Hissing at Night: Meaning & What To Do?
Cockatiel owners often find their pets hissing and acting panicked or aggressive at night.
In these cases, it’s usually because the bird is experiencing a night fright. It’s a rather common occurrence that bird owners should take precautions against.
Night frights are sudden episodes of fear that birds experience when they’re spooked by something in the dark.
A bird experiencing night frights flaps its wings violently and might get injured from the wings hitting the cage bars or perches.
Cockatiels are very susceptible to fear in the dark due to their poor night vision.
Even a slight noise or a shadow in the dark can freak them out. If you find your feathered friend in the middle of a night fright, here’s what you should do.
- Turn on the light in the room immediately.
- Slowly approach the cage to avoid scaring the bird even more.
- Calm down the cockatiel by talking to it soothingly.
Why Do Baby Cockatiels Hiss?
Baby cockatiels hiss a lot more than adults – almost incessantly. The hissing starts as soon as the bird is around ten days old.
They’re easily distressed by pretty much everyone and everything that gets too close to their liking.
Now, while frequent hissing is normal in baby cockatiels, it’s not necessarily a good thing.
After all, the little birdie is in distress, and it might adversely affect them.
The only time when a baby cockatiel’s hissing is a good sign is after you have fed them. It indicates that the bird is well-fed and feels content and excited.
How To Stop Cockatiel From Hissing?
To stop your cockatiel from hissing, you need to address the issue that led to such behavior in the first place.
Let’s explore some of the potential solutions you could try based on why the bird is hissing.
Give it some space
If the bird is hissing directly at you in an aggressive manner, it likely wants to be left alone.
That’s exactly what you should do in this case – give the cockatiel some space.
Trying to approach it will only agitate it even more.
You should be careful while feeding the bird as it might try to attack you. If the hissing persists, check for other potential problems.
Remove the cause of distress
This might sound a little obvious, but cockatiel owners often fail to notice the cause of distress or even find the hissing to be adorable.
If the bird is acting aggressively toward a guest, ask him/her to avoid approaching the cage.
The cockatiel would eventually calm down and no longer see the person as a threat.
Introduce new pets gradually
If you bring home a new pet, introduce it to your cockatiel and give them time to get comfortable toward each other.
Don’t let the new pet get too close to the bird right away.
Most importantly, the cockatiel shouldn’t feel neglected. Make sure to interact with it and show it as much affection as the new member of your home.
Cover the cage
If the bird keeps hissing incessantly and you’re not sure why just cover the cage with a breathable cloth and leave it be.
Getting some peace and quiet will help the bird calm down.
Assuming the cause of distress is something outside the cage, it would also remain out of the bird’s sight.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you calm a cockatiel?
To calm down a cockatiel, just approach it slowly and talk to it in a soothing voice.
Give the bird a treat as a positive reinforcement if it acts friendly and comes to you, but do not reward bad behavior.
If your cockatiel is hand-tamed, you may ask it to step on your hand and see if it obeys.
What does it mean if a bird hisses at you?
If a bird hisses at you, it probably dislikes your absence.
It could be because the bird is angry at you or sees you as a threat, or because it just wants to be left alone.
You should leave the bird alone until it calms down.
How do you get a cockatiel to trust you?
Earning a cockatiel’s trust might take some time. If you’ve recently brought it home, give the bird some time to get accustomed to the new environment.
You can interact with the cockatiel as it grows more comfortable with you, but don’t try to force friendship on it.
What are the signs of stress in the cockatiel?
Cockatiels display stress in various ways. Common signs of stress include hissing, screaming, lunging, and biting.
Also, check out the tiel feathers – you might also notice fluffed body feathers and facial feathers when the bird is stressed.
As you can see, hissing is usually a sign of aggression in birds, although that’s not always the case.
You should always try your best to make your cockatiel feel safe and content.
Now that you know more about why cockatiels hiss and what to do, I hope this will be easier for you.