Do Cockatiels Dance? How To Teach Your Cockatiel To Dance?

You’ve seen cockatiels dance a million times on YouTube, but yours just refuses to budge. You might wonder: do cockatiels dance, or are all those videos fake? I’m here to tell you they are not!

Cockatiels come in a variety of color patterns or personalities, but one thing all of them enjoy is music.

While this is the case with many animals – cockatiels (and the parrot species in general) – are also great dancers!

In this article, I will help you understand what you need to do in order to teach your feathered friend to get the groove on.

Do Cockatiels Dance

Do Cockatiels Like To Dance?

Cockatiels are intelligent birds that are very talented singers, especially at mimicking symphonies and human sounds.

But often, people have reported cases of seeing their pet birds dancing as well. A cockatiel can “dance” for many reasons.

One type of dancing is a part of their mating ritual.

Another can simply mean that they are enjoying themselves or stomping to show territoriality (which, given their size – you might assume to be a foot-tapping dance).

Having said that, cockatiels CAN dance to music. In fact, there are only three animals in the world that do so – including the parrot species.

Their common steps include head bobbing, side-to-side movement, foot stomping, and wing flapping.

What Kind of Music Do They Like To Dance To?

Cockatiels do not have a specific preference for one genre of music over another and may respond positively to a variety of different types of music.

Music choice is often a personal taste of the bird itself. Some owners say their bird enjoys classical, while others will notice it bobbing along to pop or rock music.

Try several styles of music to see which ones your bird shows interest in

To find out what music your companion birds enjoy, try playing different styles of music and see how your bird responds. Once you identify their style, create a playlist of their favorite music.

Sometimes, cockatiels will even respond to beats played on any hard surface.

A general observation is: that dancing birds prefer music that has clear-cut rhythmic beats (e.g., rock or electronic dance music), whereas for singing, they prefer symphonies or soothing music (e.g., classical, pop-rock, natural sounds).

There are also cases of birds responding well to gangster rap music!

How To Train Your Cockatiel To Dance?

While most birds will start responding positively upon listening to good music, you can still train them to perform.

Dancing is a great way for your bird to burn some calories and get in daily activity. Owners can follow these steps:

Be regular

Set up a regular training cadence and create a safe and anxiety-free space for your bird.

Pick the right music

Cockatiels are very good at picking up and responding to rhythms. So pick punchy, loud music with beats.

Be prepared to wheel through many kinds of music if your bird does not respond. The choice of music is a personal taste.

You can also look for videos online of the kind of music other cockatiels prefer and play those.

Lead by example – if you dance, your bird will also pick it up.

Lead by example

A lot of pets – birds, cats, and dogs included – learn by example. As their keeper, they look up to you to learn how to do things.

So, set an example by dancing yourself! You can use your finger or upper body or break out in a complete-body dance.

Throw words of encouragement at your bird. You might notice them slowly starting to mimic you.

Get other cockatiels to teach them

Similar to mimicking humans, you can try to make them mimic other birds. Look up videos of

other cockatiels swaying to the music and show them to your birds on a loop.

If one of your birds has already picked it up, he/she can be an excellent teacher to the other birds as well.

Positive reinforcement

As with any type of training, encourage the good behavior of your feathered friend with treats. Discourage negative behavior by withholding treats.

Keep your sessions short so as not to overwhelm your bird. Even if your bird does not dance on the first day, try again until they do.

Offer treats when your bird moves with the rhythm

Pick the right time

With time and patience, your cockatiel should learn to associate dancing with the music and may start dancing on its own as well while singing.

If your bird does not respond at all – you might try to encourage them by showing yourself enjoying the music at other hours.

Performance anxiety can also hit birds!

Keep on the music at a lower volume as you go about your tasks throughout the day to get them engaged.

Also, make sure to bird-proof your house before letting them loose by removing food and water bowls, moving devices, etc.

Can Cockatiels Tap Dance?

There is ample proof available on the internet that they can! For example, watch the video below:

A cockatiel can learn to tap dance or perform other types of dance movements, but this will depend on the individual bird and its natural abilities and preferences.

One thing to keep in mind is that they enjoy sound – so, while training, it would help if you placed something under their feet that produced sound while tapping.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does it mean when a cockatiel dances?

Cockatiels can dance for two reasons- to attract mates or show contentment. In the wild, the dance is often part of mating rituals.
Side-to-side swaying is a common dance step but can also mean they feel threatened and try to ward off the predator (if followed by hissing).

Why do cockatiels dance back and forth?

If your cockatiel is pacing back and forth, it could mean they are bored or distressed.
If they also self-mutilate, they are definitely bored or stressed.
Head bobbing forward and backward is usually a sign of contentment, or they could be trying to draw your attention to something.

Why does my bird randomly dance?

Birds can randomly burst into song or dance if they are happy and trying to express it.
They might even whistle notes or bonk their head against a surface to add beats.
However, random tapping and side swaying followed by hissing or screaming can point to discontent.

What music do cockatiels like?

This totally depends on your cockatiel (or even the kind of music you seem to enjoy – cockatiels mimic their keeper’s behavior).
For dancing, upbeat music with clear beats is a go-to for most. However, some birds also enjoy classical nursery rhymes or EDM.

Wrap Up

It’s important to be able to distinguish dancing from other actions that may seem similar to dancing.

You can identify this by looking at other cues – such as hissing, signs of feather-plucking, or their screams.

Dancing followed by a song definitely means your cockatiel is enjoying itself.

Getting a cockatiel to learn to dance is not that hard – when it’s living in a loving and caring home, enjoying itself comes naturally.

Thank you for reading!

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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.

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