Cockatiel Shaking – Reason & What To Do

It is hard for a pet owner to see their beloved friend in trouble, and to see your cockatiel shaking might be very stressful. But don’t worry – shaking is not always a bad thing. I explain below the various reasons why cockatiels shake.

You might find your cockatiel’s shaking worrisome, but oftentimes, it can be a perfectly normal behavior among birds.

On the other hand, there could be a number of reasons that you should know, why your cockatiel might be exhibiting this behavior.

For example, it could be stressed, scared, or simply grooming itself.

In the following article, I will discuss the various reasons why your pet cockatiel might be shaking and when you should be worried.

Hopefully, after reading this, you will be able to tell when to be alarmed about such shaking, and when to ignore it as normal stuff.

Cockatiel Shaking - Reason & What To Do

Why Is My Cockatiel Shaking?

Shaking is completely normal bird behavior. There could be various reasons for it.

Of course, your bird could be shaking if it is too cold or sick, and these are good reasons to be worried.

But it could also mean that your bird is about to go to sleep – and that’s not something that should raise concern.

Either way, let’s take a look at various reasons and how to distinguish between them.

Is it sick?

The first thought you might have on seeing your cockatiel shake is that it might be sick. It could be a sign of illness, but to determine this, you should also observe other symptoms.

Low energy, spending time at the bottom of the cage, and ruffled feathers are some concerning symptoms you could look out for.

If your pet is making wheezing noises, it could be in respiratory distress.

In some cases, the shaking could be a seizure. So if you see your pet cockatiel exhibiting shaking without any reason, you should seek immediate veterinarian help.

Does it need grooming?

Shaking is routine behavior for a cockatiel’s grooming session. They shake themselves to get rid of any remaining food particles or dust that might’ve been stuck in their feathers.

They also often tremble while ruffling and fluffing their feathers as they dry off after bathing.

So if you see your cockatiel shaking while it is preening itself, know that this is normal behavior and your cockatiel is okay.

If you do not notice any other out-of-ordinary symptoms indicating stress, your pet should stop shaking after some time.

Your bird might just be grooming itself

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    Is it afraid? Does fear cause my cockatiel to shake?

    If you are a cockatiel owner, you would’ve heard about their infamous night frights. Cockatiels spook easily.

    So any sudden actions in their surroundings, such as switching on lights, loud noises, and sounds, could scare them, and they can start to shake.

    Even sudden movements or dropping something next to their cage could rattle them.

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      You will notice your pet bird fluffing up its feathers as it does a final shake or two once the moment of fear has passed.


      Stress is yet another factor that could cause your cockatiel to shake. Cockatiels are social animals and thrive on interactions.

      So if there is a lack of attention and interaction, your cockatiel could get stressed and might develop a habit of shaking.

      Cockatiels also thrive when their environment is stable and consistent.

      Any change in their surroundings could be a stressful experience for them, and they could start stress shaking.

      Apart from this, anything in your pet’s environment that spooks it could result in it shaking in response.


      As discussed above, if you see your pet cockatiel shaking, it isn’t always a cause for alarm. Birds often give themselves a shake when they’re trying to relieve stress and relax.

      You will often notice your pet cockatiel fluffing its feathers and giving itself a shake or two before bedtime.

      They usually do this as part of their bedtime routine to calm themselves for the night.

      You will notice your bird falling asleep shortly after this little wind-down activity.

      Birds that are tired or about to go to sleep might also do a little shaking before getting some shut eye

      Is it cold?

      Another common reason why your cockatiel might be shaking is a drop in temperature.

      Cockatiels require an optimal temperature (between 70-75 F) that is neither too cold nor too hot to be comfortable.

      A sudden temperature drop or a cold air draft could make your cockatiel shiver.

      Your pet cockatiel might also shiver after a bath. Always dry it quickly with a towel and keep it in a room with the proper temperature where it can dry itself.

      If you see it fluffing its feathers and shivering, know that it could be because of a cold temperature.

      Is the shaking accompanied by your cockatiel sneezing? It might be a cause of concern, definitely something that you would want to investigate further.

      About to sleep

      As already discussed, shaking is a part of a cockatiel’s bedtime routine. When it is time to sleep, you will often notice your cockatiel fluffing its feathers and shaking a little.

      They do this to calm their nerves and shake off any stress or fear they might have felt during the day. This little routine helps them relax and get ready for bed.

      Reacting to sounds

      Sometimes when you are talking to your cockatiel or are playing any kind of music in the room, you might notice your bird shaking its head.

      This might be a reaction to whatever sound or music it is listening to. You can be sure of this by observing that it stops shaking when the sound stops.

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        You can determine whether that is a positive or negative shake based on its other body language.

        If it keeps chirping, seems excited, or starts to dance, it likes the sound. However, it probably does not like it if it starts getting agitated and noisy.

        Cockatiels love music and might just be bobbing their head or shaking to some sounds they like

        Why Is My Cockatiel Shaking Certain Parts of Its Body?

        As discussed in the above section, there can be several reasons why your cockatiel is shaking different parts of its body.

        If your cockatiel is shaking its head, it could be reacting to whatever interaction you’re having with it.

        If you see your cockatiel being chirpy and cheery along with the shaking, it’s a positive reaction.

        However, if it seems to be getting antsy and agitated, your bird is probably not liking the interaction.

        As for shaking its body and tail feathers, there could be several reasons. Your cockatiel might be grooming itself, preparing for bedtime, or feeling cold.

        These are perfectly common and unalarming reasons.

        The more concerning reasons could be that your cockatiel is ill, stressed, or scared.

        But in these cases, you’ll spot other physical symptoms that’ll help you determine that your cockatiel is in distress.

        The only way to spot the difference is by observing your pet’s behavior regularly and knowing what patterns are out of character for your bird.

        Shaking tail or body feathers is usually a sign of stress or disease.

        Why Is My Cockatiel Shaking During Certain Activities?

        Your cockatiel might shake during certain activities such as after bathing, while sleeping, and eating. But are all shakes a cause of concern? Let’s see.

        Just like humans feel cold immediately after a bath, cockatiels, too, get the chills immediately after they’re done bathing.

        They shake to dry themselves and generate body heat to feel warm and comfortable. This is completely healthy and normal behavior.

        If you see your cockatiel shaking its head while asleep, it might be feeling cold. In that case, check the room’s temperature and ensure it’s not too cold.

        Your cockatiel could also just be adjusting its feathers or crest. Or it might be shaking out of fear if it gets startled while sleeping.

        If your cockatiel shakes its head while eating, it could be telling you something. It could either be reacting positively to express that it likes the food.

        Or if you see it getting aggressive along with the shaking or walking away from the food, it could mean it’s not liking the food.

        Sometimes, shaking is just a way for birds to adjust their feathers during an activity.

        Cockatiel Shaking and Closing Eyes: What Does It Mean?

        If your cockatiel is shaking with its eyes closed, most of the time, it’s a sign of sickness. Your cockatiel might not be feeling well or feeling fatigued and tired.

        Birds often hide their symptoms if they’re not feeling the best, so as a pet owner, it is your responsibility to keep an out for any out-of-character behavior

        The reason why birds do this is that in the wild, any sign of weakness in birds could be an invitation to predators.

        However, if your cockatiel is sick, you will spot other symptoms, such as lying at the bottom of the cage, not eating, not responding, etc.

        In this case, it’s best to seek medical care for your bird.

        Why Is My Cockatiel Puffed up and Shaking?

        For birds, puffing up their wings is a method of generating body heat.

        So if your cockatiel is feeling cold, you will often see it shivering and puffing up its wings to feel warm.

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          This is also a part of their bedtime routine. Cockatiels will often shake a little during wind down to shake off the stress and relax. This helps them to sleep calmly.

          You will also see a cockatiel do this shortly after a stressor or threat has passed to calm down.

          Shaking during the evening is a surefire sign of a bird about to sleep

          What Do I Do if My Bird Is Shaking?

          As bird owners, it is very important to know which of your bird’s behaviors is worrisome and which are normal.

          Shaking is one such reaction that could potentially be a cause of worry. But most of the time, it is just routine reactive behavior.

          If you see your bird shaking, it’s natural that you want to do something to make it comfortable.

          However, what you should or could do depends on the reason why your bird is shaking in the first place.

          If your bird is shaking out of cold, adjust the room temperature to make it warm. Cockatiels will usually feel cold after a bath, so dry them quickly.

          Also, try and bathe them during the day rather than at night. You could also consider investing in a heated perch to keep them nice and cozy at all times.

          If you have a sick bird and it’s shivering consistently, seek medical help because your bird could be having a seizure.

          Your pet cockatiel could be shaking because of a stress trigger that spooked it. Try and relieve its anxiety by talking to it and assuring it of its safety.

          To keep your bird comfortable and secure, reduce and manage the triggers in its environment as much as possible.

          If you see your cockatiel shaking before bedtime, worry not. That’s a way to do away with stress and get ready for bed. It will stop shaking after a while and go to sleep.

          Shaking is also often a way birds use to communicate with their humans.

          By observing their daily behavior and quirks, you’ll be able to tell what their body language is expressing in different situations.

          Frequently Asked Questions

          How do you calm a nervous cockatiel?

          You can calm a nervous cockatiel by talking to it and reassuring it that it is safe and secure.
          Cockatiels also thrive in a consistent and stable environment, so keep them in familiar surroundings and places where they will feel calm and comfortable.

          How do you warm up a cockatiel?

          There are a couple of ways to do this. Keep your cockatiel in a room with an optimal temperature between 70F and 75F.
          You could invest in a heated perch for your bird or keep a small heat source near its cage to keep it warm and toasty.
          After a bath, dry it off with a towel quickly. Also, keep its cage away from any windows which could bring in a direct blast of cold air.

          How do I know if my bird is in pain?

          If your bird seems low on energy, spends a lot of time at the bottom of its cage, and sleeps longer hours, it could be sick.
          Other symptoms are if your bird shuts its eyes, has a drooped wing, reduced appetite, and interactions, it could be in pain.

          What are the signs of a stressed bird?

          If your bird is stressed, you will notice it getting agitated. Your bird might try to bite you, scream or hiss.
          You will also find decreased vocalization, appetite, and even picking its feathers. Your bird might also shiver and shake if stressed.

          Wrap Up

          Shaking is part of normal bird behavior. Your pet cockatiel could be shaking for several reasons, which do not necessarily have to be concerning.

          You could have a healthy cockatiel that’s shaking simply because it’s grooming, feeling cold, or relaxing!

          Observing your pet’s daily behavior will help you spot the difference between worrisome and routine shaking.

          Thank you for reading!

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