Cockatiel Smells Bad – Reasons And What To Do?

Do cockatiels have some kind of natural stink? What to do if a cockatiel smells bad, and will the stench go away after a while? I will try to answer all this in the article below.

Cockatiels have powder-down feathers but are, in general, clean birds. They do not smell, but dirty environments and illness can cause them to stink.

Most pets, including dogs, don’t smell good after a bath, and this is nothing to be worried about. But a chronically smelly bird means something is wrong, and you should probably investigate further.

FREE video course:
Stop Your Bird's Biting

    If your birds are young, you should be doubly careful as they can easily catch infections that cause a foul smell.

    Cockatiel Smells Bad

    Do Cockatiels Smell?

    Cockatiels, like most birds, have a distinct odor that can come from their feathers, skin, and droppings.

    This is completely natural, and every animal will have its own scent due to the oil their body produces.

    Cockatiels preen well and give off feather dust, which away carries their scent. However, the odor is usually not strong or unpleasant.

    You will only detect a mild scent from it, which can be easily managed with regular cleaning and hygiene practices.

    Cockatiels do not make homes smell bad. In fact, most of them are not afraid of a bath either.

    If you find an overpowering odor near your bird, it may be a sign of an underlying health issue or poor hygiene.

    Sometimes, wet poop, bedding that has not been changed for long, or a dirty cage can also cause a foul odor.

    Why Do Cockatiels Smell Bad Sometimes?

    Certain situations can cause a cockatiel or its cage to smell bad.

    This could be due to problems with the bird or your frequency and intensity of cleaning. Here are some common possibilities:


    During the breeding season, male cockatiels may produce a strong odor as they release pheromones to attract a mate.

    Your bird can have changes in their hormonal levels due to different maturity stages, or even if they are happy or sad.

    Happy birds smell better than stressed or anxious ones.


    Feeding a seed diet that is high in fat and low in fresh fruits and vegetables can lead to an unhealthy gut and increased odor.

    You should be feeding your bird a proper pelleted diet that has more fruits and veggies than high-fat seeds.

    This can affect their body odor and make it sweeter.

    Sometimes poor diet or hormonal changes might cause a bird to smell bad


    It’s important to maintain the general hygiene of the space you keep your birds in. The cage should be cleaned regularly.

    Food and water dishes should be washed and replaced with new food items every day.

    Change any bedding weekly and any napkins kept for catching droppings regularly.

    Old droppings can encourage bacterial growth, which can add to the foul smell.

    You can use natural solutions made from baking soda and vinegar to wipe the cage bars and get rid of persistent smells.

    Add cinnamon or other strong odor agents to keep the space smelling good.

    Do not use off-the-rack aerosols to freshen up your cockatiel’s cage. They might contain substances that can cause health issues in birds.


    Sometimes birds can have bad breath due to infection in their crop region. Certain health issues, such as fungal or bacterial infections, can cause an unpleasant odor.

    If your cockatiel is showing signs of illness, such as lethargy, loss of appetite, or discharge from the eyes or nose, it’s important to see an avian veterinarian.

    FREE video course:
    Stop Your Bird's Biting

      Nesting Birds

      If you have nesting birds within a box with lots of bedding – this could be a reason why there is an odor surrounding it.

      If you are well-bonded with your birds, you can try changing some of the bedding.

      However, there’s little to be done in this case that won’t disturb your birds.

      If your bird is laying eggs constantly which are not fertilized, it’s best to discourage them by removing the nesting box since it might take a toll on their health.

      How To Remove Cockatiel Smell?

      Wet cockatiels have a certain smell that can be foul for some. However, a bird with healthy feathers should dry soon.

      Despite this, if your bird or their aviary smells, here are some steps you can take:

      Keeping the cage clean

      To keep a cockatiel cage clean, you should:

      1. Remove and dispose of any droppings and food debris regularly. Replace the napkin or lining daily.
      2. Clean the food and water dishes daily, and refill them with fresh food and water. Throw away any half-eaten items and clean droppings from the food.
      3. Perform a more thorough cleaning of the cage at least once a week. This should involve emptying the cage, removing all food and dirty water dishes, perches, toys, and wiping down the cage and all accessories with mild soap and water. During this time, keep your birds in a temporary, small cage.
      4. Clean the bottom tray or paper in the cage daily and replace it regularly. It’s important to not use any cleaning agents that might be toxic for the bird or use too strong-smelling detergents that might make the bird sick.
      5. If your bird takes baths on its own, mix specially-formulated bird cleaner into its bathwater.

      FREE video course:
      Stop Your Bird's Biting

        Nesting birds might emit a foul odor because they are unable to preen themselves when they are caring for eggs

        Keeping the feeding area clean

        Old food, especially wet food, can cause a foul odor as it decays. It’s best to replace your cockatiel’s food dishes every day.

        Have two sets of similar bowls that you switch. While you can reuse dry food such as seeds, make sure you clean any droppings or peels from it.

        Some owners also use a net dry catcher that goes all the way around the bottom of the cage to catch any stray food items.

        Odor Remover

        It’s best to use natural ingredients to remove odor from the cage. Dried droppings on the bar can be one of the causes.

        At the same time, perform a thorough cleaning, using mild soap and letting the cage dry completely.

        Use a mixture of baking soda and vinegar to get rid of the smell.

        To offset the tanginess of vinegar, you can add vanilla, cinnamon, or nutmeg powder to add a natural air freshener.

        Why Does My Cockatiels Breath Smell Bad?

        If your bird has bad breath, it probably is suffering from a bacterial or yeast infection (I touched upon this earlier).

        Bad breath indicates that the infection is within the body. The most common areas are the crop (where food is stored before digestion) and the intestinal tract.

        FREE video course:
        Stop Your Bird's Biting

          Some common intestinal tract bacteria like E. coli can cause an infection that can spread via droppings.

          You should take your bird to a vet who will determine the exact bacteria through a test and prescribe medicine.

          Frequently Asked Questions

          Can Cockatiels Smell?

          Cockatiels possess olfactory glands, which means they can smell.
          However, their sense of smell and taste is not as developed as that of other animals, including humans (which is the case with most birds).
          Birds mainly rely on sight and sound to go about their business.

          Why Does My Cockatiel Smell Sour?

          If your bird has a sour smell coming from her beak, it could signify a bacterial or yeast infection in her crop.
          Crop infections can be fatal if not treated in time, and it is mostly seen in younger birds. An ill bird will stop eating and become lethargic.

          Why Does My Cockatiel Smell Like Fish?

          A fishy smell indicates a bacterial infection. This infection could either be in the crop region or in their intestinal tract.
          It’s best to take them to a vet who will perform a culture to isolate the problem-causing agent and provide antibiotics for the same.

          Do Cockatiels Fart?

          While cockatiels can fart in theory (since they possess the anatomical ability to do so), they usually do not fart in practice.
          This is because their gut does not contain the bacteria needed to produce this gas while digestion occurs.

          Wrap Up

          Most cockatiel owners agree that a healthy bird does not smell – other than a faint, strawy smell that you can only get if you grab your real bird close.

          However, this smell isn’t bad or debilitating, and most owners get used to it over time.

          In fact, I have mostly felt a very nice, light fragrant odor coming from these birds most of the time, as long you stay at a distance.

          But if you sense something out of the ordinary, then there probably is. If a foul odor persists, please investigate and take your bird to the vet as soon as possible.

          Thank you for reading.

          Photo of author

          Team Beauty of Birds

's team of experts includes veterinarians, biologists, environmentalists and active bird watchers. All put together, we have over half a century of experience in the birding space.

          You can meet our team here.
          Team Beauty of Birds is separate from the “Parrot Parent University” parrot training course and its instructors.

          Leave a Comment

          This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.