Cockatiels are usually friendly birds, but if they are being mean, it probably has a deeper meaning in it. In this article, I will share some possible reasons why this might be happening.
Cockatiels are usually not aggressive. But if they try to bite you, hiss at you, or engage in aggressive behavior, they’re likely trying to communicate something.
As bird owners, learning your pet’s behavioral cues is crucial to address its needs.
In my experience, if your cockatiel is aggressive and mean, it might have something to do with the activity at hand.
Or it can be due to hormonal changes during mating season. The following article will detail these reasons for you.
Reasons Why Your Cockatiel Might Be Mean?
As I said, having a mean or nasty cockatiel is a very unusual thing. They are territorial, but once they get to know you, they are usually very fun-loving and playful birds.
Here are a few reasons why this might be happening with your bird.
Hormones during mating seasons
Once your cockatiel reaches sexual maturity, it will feel the drive to find a mate and create a nest.
But it might become increasingly frustrating since that’s not possible in captivity.
You might also notice your adult cockatiel being obsessed with an object or even with you as it views it/you as its potential mate.
When its emotions are not reciprocated as a real mate would, you will see it becoming aggressive and mean.
Your pet might indulge in destructive behavior, such as biting apart chew toys and feather plucking.
In the case of female birds, they might start laying eggs even without a cockatiel mate, which can be stressful for them.
Being grabbed or pet in the wrong way
It is a well-known fact that cockatiels adore physical affection. However, approaching or touching your cockatiel the wrong way could trigger a foul mood.
Learn the trick on how to pick your bird up. If you do it wrong, you could hurt your cockatiel’s wings or even cause a break.
Pet your cockatiel on its head or behind its crest. Avoid petting it on the body, as your bird could interpret that action as a sexual move.
It can trigger breeding and sexual hormones that can further cause aggression and destructive behavior in your bird.
Regardless of your side, know that wing clipping can cause your bird to become aggressive and mean.
Even though it depends on individual birds, it’s generally seen that cockatiels, being prey birds, do not like being restrained like this.
It can make them feel trapped and tip them over onto the side of bad behavior.
While there may not be any alternative to clipping your bird’s wing, make sure you do it in the most humane way possible and after learning the proper steps.
Negative reinforcement (Punishments)
Negative reinforcement or punishment for bad behavior is not a concept that parrots understand.
Hence if you think punishing your pet for an inappropriate action such as screaming and biting will work, think again.
On the contrary, your bird will become defensive and interpret that you’re trying to provoke or attack it. This will only cause it to become more aggressive than submissive.
Positive reinforcement is the only technique that works in pet training. Rewarding your pet for good behavior through rewards like treats will encourage them to behave well.
What Can You Do About It?
Now there are different things you can do for your bird’s aggression depending on why they’re being mean.
To keep your bird’s mating hormones in check, keep it occupied with new activities and toys during mating season.
Take away toys that it can become obsessed with and consider its mate.
Also, during this time, avoid excessive snuggling and touching on the body, which can be mistaken as mating behavior.
If your bird wants to shower you with excessive affection, walk away instead of engaging. This will ensure your bird stops seeing you as its mate.
When physically handling or petting your cockatiel, ensure you’re not hurting its wings or touching it in a way that could be sexually arousing.
Stick to petting your cockatiel’s head and neck. Avoid approaching it from the top, as it can resemble a predator’s attack.
While there might not be any alternative to clipping their wings, try to be as gentle and humane as possible.
Don’t attempt to do it yourself on the first go – get a vet or certified groomer to do it and learn.
Regardless, clipping will always lead to triggering defense mechanisms that will make your bird angry and aggressive.
So brace for a cranky bird for at least a few days.
As mentioned above, cockatiels do not understand the concept of negative reinforcement.
Hence punishing them for undesirable behavior will backfire in the form of aggression. So avoid any form of negative reinforcement.
Instead, train your cockatiel to act positively. Incorporate positive reinforcement into your training to get your cockatiel to act on your commands and be a tame bird.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why is my cockatiel so nasty?
Cockatiels are naturally territorial, so if they feel like their space is being invaded, they will often become very nasty to other animals (and people).
This also means that cockatiels can be sensitive to sudden changes in their environment, such as new people bringing new smells or sounds.
In addition, it’s important to keep in mind that cockatiels often require a lot of attention and mental stimulation; boredom can lead them to seek negative attention.
Therefore, you should try to give your cockatiel toys and treats and minimize potential triggers like loud noises or large crowds.
How do you discipline a cockatiel?
Firstly, never be mean or angry with cockatiels. They do not respond well to negative reinforcement.
To discipline a cockatiel, start by consistently reinforcing positive behaviors and ignoring negative ones.
Offer treats when the bird behaves properly, such as when it mimics sounds you make or perches quietly on your hand.
Whenever the bird misbehaves, make sure to remain calm and not yell or punish it physically; this will only cause it further distress.
If the behaviors persist, try diverting its attention to a toy or laying down some ground rules about biting and screaming before interacting with it in the future.
How do you calm down a cockatiel?
The best way to calm down a cockatiel is by providing it with plenty of love and attention.
Spend time talking to your bird and forming a bond through eye contact.
Ensure its cage is well maintained, providing a perfect balance between privacy and stimulation.
Also, make sure it’s getting the required amount of sleep each day and offer the bird perches and toys for entertainment.
Playing soft music in the background can also help to soothe stress levels, as long as it does not contain any sudden or drastic changes in sound.
Can a cockatiel get mad at you?
Yes, your feathered friend can get mad at you. While they are usually very affectionate and friendly birds, they can become angry if they feel neglected or threatened.
If they don’t receive the attention they need, they may become aggressive or irritable.
It is important to give your cockatiel enough love and respect while still setting clear boundaries so that it won’t become too demanding of your attention.
Spending quality time with your cockatiel regularly can help ensure its happy and contenting living environment.
Cockatiels are companion birds that can be tamed and trained to behave the way you want them to.
However, if something makes your cockatiel uncomfortable, it will react aggressively.
There are several reasons why your pet bird might become mean.
Hormonal changes during the breeding season, petting it the wrong way, and clipping its wings against its will are a couple of reasons why.
Knowing what is irking your cockatiel will let you know what kind of solution to incorporate to calm your pet down.
Thank you for reading, and I hope you learned a thing or two about why your cockatiel is being mean!