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Cockatiel Beak Grinding – Why Do They Do It?

Cockatiel

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Dr. Paola Cuevas Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Paola Cuevas

Vet, MVZ

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Cockatiels make a lot of sounds, and discerning between them can be a difficult task, especially if you’re new to bird-keeping. One of the most unique and, quite frankly, alarming sounds you might be concerned about as a new cockatiel owner is beak grinding.

It is perfectly normal behavior for cockatiels to grind their beaks, so it is absolutely nothing to worry about. In fact, if your cockatiel is grinding its beak, you can rest assured that you’re raising a happy and healthy bird. Beak grinding is the bird equivalent of a purring kitty, so it usually signifies that your cockatiel is content and relaxed.

Keep reading to find out more about why your cockatiel is grinding its beak.

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Why Is My Cockatiel Grinding Its Beak?

Although the sight and sound of your bird grinding its beak can seem anything but relaxing, many cockatiels will do it before bed as a way of winding themselves down for the night. They’ll also do it when they’re feeling very relaxed and content, which is why it happens most often at night as they’re falling asleep.

Your cockatiel may also be grinding its beak simply because it’s bored. If you determine this is the reason behind your cockatiel’s behavior, invest in a few enriching bird toys to keep them occupied with healthier habits.

Some people believe that birds grind their beaks as a way of keeping them trim. Since beaks are made of keratin, they’ll grow continuously and can even curl into your bird’s face if they’re not worn down. There doesn’t seem to be research that supports this hypothesis, however. Most birds are happy to wear their beak down on a cuttlebone (which is something you should always have available in its cage).

Closeup of a Cockatiel
Image Credit: Gaschwald, Shutterstock

What Does Beak Grinding Sound Like?

When birds grind their beaks, their upper jaw (maxilla) slides against their lower jaw (mandible). The repetitive motion sounds akin to a human scratching their fingernails on a rough surface. You might also hear scratchy, clicky, or high-pitched sounds.

Is It Normal for My Cockatiel to Beak Grind Outside of Bedtime?

If you notice your bird grinding its beak for prolonged periods or if it’s often grinding during the daytime when it’s not winding down for bed, you may wish to visit your avian vet. You’ll want to schedule an appointment if you notice any signs of beak damage.

Your vet may recommend you redirect your bird’s beak grinding behavior if it becomes destructive. You can try different engaging and enriching cockatiel toys to keep them occupied.

white faced cockatiel
Image Credit: Zdenka Kincel, Shutterstock

Is It Painful for Cockatiels to Grind Their Beaks?

If you’ve ever ground your teeth at night, you know how much pain your jaw can be in the next morning. You might then think that after grinding its beak, a cockatiel might also experience that same amount of discomfort. Truthfully, birds don’t feel any pain when they’re beak grinding despite the alarming sound that might accompany this behavior.

divider-birdsFinal Thoughts

Beak grinding is a completely normal cockatiel behavior. If your bird makes these sounds before bed, you know they’re completely relaxed and content with their surroundings. If you notice your cockatiel beak grinding outside of bedtime hours or if you recognize any signs of beak damage, you should speak with your vet for further instructions.


Featured Image Credit: 995645, Pixabay

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