Why Are Cockatiels Messy? Destructive?

Cockatiels aren’t messy per se – but they do generate a lot of dust. Sometimes, they can be destructive, though. Keep an eye out because it could be a sign of a larger problem.

Owning a pet bird is great, but it can quickly become a nightmare if the bird is destructive and you aren’t prepared to deal with it. 

If you plan to get a cockatiel, you might be worried about the bird potentially being messy or destructive, or both.

Well, I can assure you that cockatiels aren’t usually destructive – it’s their calm and friendly temperament that makes them perfect companion birds. 

As for their tendency to create a mess, we’ll be learning about it in detail right away.

Why Are Cockatiels Messy

Are Cockatiels Messy?

One of the perks of this pet bird species is that they love to stay clean. They put a lot of effort into it, bathing, grooming, and preening their feathers.

While the birds are fairly clean, they can sometimes create a mess inside the cage. 

Wild cockatiels are messy birds, but it doesn’t matter since they live up on the trees and most of the mess falls away. 

For captive birds kept in a cage, it’s a whole different story.

As a cockatiel owner, you’ll have to deal with the bird feather dust, poop, and the food bits it throws around the cage.

Why Are Cockatiels So Dusty?

As a new cockatiel owner, you might be surprised by the amount of dust this bird species can produce. 

These birds seem to be dusty all the time, and so do their cages. So, what exactly is this dust, and why do cockatiels produce it?

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    The dust is produced from the tips of the white powder-down feathers that help keep the bird insulated. 

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      These feathers are waterproofed by a keratin sheath.

      Eventually, the keratin breaks down and is released as dust, together with the dirt on the feathers.

      During the molting cycle of birds, new feathers grow and push out the old ones.

      Cockatiels are especially dusty during this time. As the old feathers fall off, they release powder-like dander.  

      How To Avoid Cockatiel Dust?

      In addition to allergies from bird dander, the dust particles may also carry various bacteria and other microorganisms. 

      Here are a few tips on how you can reduce the dust and prevent it from accumulating in large amounts.

      • Bathe your cockatiel every day. It will help rinse off a majority of the dust.
      • Wipe dust off the cage and its surroundings regularly.
      • Install a dust air filter to prevent cockatiel dust from floating all over your home.
      • Keep your cockatiel properly groomed.

      Remember not to inhale any cockatiel dust while cleaning. 

      You should use a damp cloth to wipe – it’ll trap the dust particles and prevent them from floating up. 

      Make sure to turn off ceiling fans while you’re at it.

      Are Cockatiels Destructive?

      Cockatiels can be messy birds, but they usually aren’t destructive. These social birds are rather timid and friendly, which makes them the perfect pet bird for kids. 

      They are even friendly to other pets, as long as they’ve been properly introduced and trust each other.

      With that said, any destructive behavior from your cockatiel should be addressed immediately.

      Do not punish the bird – it will only make things worse. 

      Try to find out why the cockatiel is being destructive and resolve the root cause.

      Are Cockatiels High Maintenance?

      Worried about cockatiels being high-maintenance pets? 

      While the cockatiel isn’t a no-maintenance bird, it’s far easier to keep than other domestic animals like cats and dogs. 

      They also need a lot less maintenance than larger parrots and exotic birds. Here are a few things that you should know before getting a cockatiel.

      Night frights

      Cockatiels are extremely vulnerable to night frights – a state of panic where they try to fly off and thrash around their wings violently. 

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        This happens when something scares the bird in the dark. It’s not uncommon for cockatiels to get injured during night frights.

        Picky Eaters

        Cockatiels tend to be picky eaters and usually dislike trying out new foods. This can make it hard to give your cockatiel a varied diet. 

        When buying a cockatiel, ask the store what they used to feed the bird and keep it on a similar diet.

        Weak respiratory system

        Cockatiels have very weak respiratory systems, and fumes can cause significant damage.

        Never spray aerosol sprays or air fresheners near the bird’s cage. 

        Even fumes from candles and non-stick coatings can harm a cockatiel’s respiratory system.

        Special wing trimmer

        We are not here to discuss the merits and demerits of wing clipping for pet birds. But if you have decided that it is best to clip your birds’ wings, trimming them every few months will be part of a cockatiel’s care routine

        Again, the jury is out on whether it is beneficial to clip a pet bird’s wings or not and we are not here to pass judgment on it. but if you do decide to clip your bird’s wings, please use trimmers meant for that purpose.

        Larger cages

        Despite being a small bird species, cockatiels need cages that are usually meant for larger birds. 

        This is because a cockatiel’s tail is much longer than other common pet birds of similar size. 

        They also need to exercise regularly, which makes a bigger cage a necessity.

        Loud Screaming

        Cockatiels have a very high-pitched scream that they tend to emit when upset.

        Unfortunately, it might take some time to calm down a screaming cockatiel. 

        If noise is a major concern for you, this is something you should remember. 

        Even healthy birds of this species can scream for a variety of reasons.

        How to Clean a Cockatiel’s Mess

        Unless you clean up the cage and its contents regularly, you’ll end up with sick birds. If you aren’t sure how to go about it, I’ve got you covered.

        Food bowls

        Cockatiels are messy eaters, scattering food all over the place as they eat. 

        Always remove leftover food and clean up food debris right after your cockatiel has eaten.

        When feeding a cockatiel wet food, clean any fluid with a wet piece of cloth before it dries.

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          Feathers and dander from your cockatiel can cause serious health problems for you and your family if left to float around the home. 

          You’ll have to clean them up every three days when it isn’t molting and thrice a day during molting periods.  


          The easiest way to deal with cockatiel poop in a cage is to cover the floor of the cage with newspaper. 

          All you have to do is replace it once it gets coated with poop, leaving each sheet of paper for a maximum of 7 days. 

          Allowing bird poop to accumulate for too long can spread infectious diseases like psittacosis among humans.


          Left in the cockatiel’s cage, its toys get dirty too. Brush the toys and scrape them to remove any solid waste. 

          You can then hand-wash them in soapy water and give them a thorough rinse. However, make sure to dry bird toys completely before you put them back in the cage.  


          Constantly exposed to clutter and filth, cockatiel cages get dirty fast. 

          Clean the cage every week with a mixture of water and white vinegar, followed by drying it under direct sunlight. 

          This will help destroy any bacterial or mold growth.

          Frequently Asked Questions

          Do cockatiels make a lot of mess?

          Yes, cockatiels do make a lot of messes due to their dust and feather plucking. Moreover, since cockatiels are larger than other pet birds, they produce more droppings.
          Since it is important to keep the cages of cockatiels clean, you can expect to find a lot of mess around them if not regularly cleaned up.
          If you are thinking of getting a cockatiel, you should be aware of these issues beforehand.

          Why do cockatiels throw things on the floor?

          Cockatiels throw various objects on the floor to attract attention, express boredom, or maybe just for fun.
          They often do this when they are frustrated or want to get your attention because they are not getting enough stimulation in their environment.
          It is also possible that they are seeking out forms of enrichment by throwing and playing with their favorite toys.
          This behavior can be pretty annoying, but you need to address the root cause of your cockatiel’s boredom. Try to give it toys and perches and bring a few changes in its routine and see what works best.

          How do you discipline a cockatiel?

          Cockatiels learn through positive reinforcement, so you should offer treats when they do the right thing and pet them for it.
          Don’t punish them if they do something wrong – ignore it, and continue trying to train them to do the right thing.
          If they are persistently doing wrong things, try a different activity or toy to take their attention away.
          Always be patient while training your cockatiel; it will take time and effort to shape desired habits.
          You can also seek the help of an experienced avian veterinarian or bird trainer.

          How do I stop my cockatiel from pooping everywhere?

          The fact is – you can’t stop a bird from pooping. Cockatiels need to go every half an hour or so; that’s just nature’s way.
          The best way to prevent getting your things covered with bird poop is just to keep your cockatiel away from places where you don’t want it going.
          You can also try to use treats and other things that the bird likes to get it to stop pooping in a particular place, though it might take a while for the bird to catch on to the concept.

          Wrapping up

          Wild birds don’t have to worry about cleaning up after themselves. If their home gets too dirty, they just move elsewhere. 

          However, you’ll have to clean up the mess made by your pet birds, both for their well-being and your own.

          Baby birds may also need some help with cleaning themselves as they can’t preen and groom their feathers like adults. 

          I hope your cockatiels won’t be too messy, and you’ll have a fairly easy time taking care of them!

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