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Home > Birds > How to Bond With Your Cockatiel: 5 Proven Tips & FAQs

How to Bond With Your Cockatiel: 5 Proven Tips & FAQs

feeding a cockatiel

Cockatiels are very social creatures that can make wonderful pets. While they may be nervous when you first bring them home, they tend to become very close with their human owners. In this article, we have compiled some of the best tips for bonding with and welcoming your cockatiel into your home.divider-birds

Top 5 Tips for Bonding With Your Cockatiel

1. Let Your Bird Settle In

When you first bring your cockatiel home, it will probably take him some time to adjust to his new environment. In fact, it could take up to 2 weeks for your cockatiel to settle into his new surroundings. Other than giving him some space at first, there are a few steps you can take to prepare your cockatiel’s cage in order to make sure that your pet bird is as comfortable as possible.

Your Cockatiel’s Cage

Make sure your cockatiel’s cage has plenty of room for him to spread his wings without brushing up against the sides of the enclosure. If possible, buy a rectangular cage as opposed to a round one. Not only will your bird feel more comfortable, but a rectangular cage with evenly spaced bars is usually the safer choice. In a round cage, the bars often taper at the top, creating small crevices in which a bird’s leg, tail, beak, or other body parts can easily get caught. Rectangular cages are also usually easier to clean than round cages. Provide your cockatiel with plenty of perches throughout the cage, as well as a food and water bowl that is on the same level as the perches. This way, you will most likely prevent your cockatiel’s droppings from contaminating his food and water.

When looking for the best place to put your cockatiel’s cage, choose an area of your home that is well-trafficked. Cockatiels are social creatures that typically enjoy interacting with their human owners. Your bird may be nervous at first, but this is also a great way to get him used to the activity in your home without you having to get too close initially.

Cinnamon cockatiel
Image Credit: Barbara Rost, Shutterstock

2. Approach Your Cockatiel’s Cage Slowly

Once your cockatiel has had an opportunity to settle into his new environment, you can start to slowly approach his cage. Talk to your bird with a soft voice and approach when the house is relatively quiet so that he remains calm throughout the interaction. You should keep interactions short at first, gradually increasing the amount of time as your cockatiel starts to become more comfortable with you.

Housing a cockatiel isn’t as easy as it sounds. Whether you’re setting up your first cage or looking to upgrade your cockatiel’s home, check out the well-researched book The Ultimate Guide to Cockatiels, available on Amazon. 

The Ultimate Guide to Cockatiels

This excellent resource is packed with information about choosing the ideal perch, selecting the best cage design and positioning, helping your cockatiel adjust to its new home, and much more!

3. Set Aside Time for Daily Interactions

As mentioned, cockatiels are social creatures that will enjoy interacting with you, especially once they have gotten comfortable around you. Aim to spend around an hour per day interacting with your bird. You can spend the time talking to your bird, petting him, playing with toys he likes, and eventually handling him.

Build Up to Handling Your Cockatiel

Don’t try to handle your cockatiel right away, or you might startle him. Instead, you should work your way up to handling him by using some of our tips.

First, you can get your bird to feel more comfortable with you by offering treats whenever you open his cage. Don’t attempt to take him out yet; just speak softly and offer treats. Once your cockatiel reaches a certain comfort level, you can start putting your hand further into his cage. We recommend wearing a leather glove just in case he tries to bite you out of fear. Continue using treats during this process.

Eventually, you can begin to stroke your cockatiel. Again, using the leather glove, reach out and gently place your finger on his abdomen. If he seems comfortable, you can begin stroking him, and he may move to your finger. Use your other hand to gently support your bird’s wings and back. Give him a treat to positively reinforce the experience of being held.

Cockatiels are intelligent birds that can learn tricks and commands such as “step up.” Every time you tell him to “step up,” he will know that he is about to get some time outside of the cage and will willingly step onto your finger to be handled. If you can avoid it, never reach into the cage to try and grab your bird without his permission; he will interpret this as a violation of his space and may become frightened.

feeding a cockatiel_Pixabay
Image Credit: Pixabay

4. Stick to a Regular Feeding Schedule

Another great way to get your bird to trust and bond with you is to stick to a regular feeding schedule. Your cockatiel will learn that he can depend on you to take care of his needs. You can even hand-feed him every once in a while to further strengthen his trust, but make sure he knows how to eat from his food bowl so that he doesn’t become dependent on hand feeding.

You can take feeding-time bonding to the next level by opting to eat with your bird from time to time. Wild cockatiels share their meals, so you can imitate this social interaction with your pet. Keep in mind that you should always wash your hands before eating your own meal, especially if you hand-fed your bird.

5. Play With Your Cockatiel

Cockatiels love to play and learn new tricks. Interacting with your cockatiel in this way will not only strengthen your bond, but it will also help provide your bird with the mental stimulation he needs. There are many different bird toys that you can purchase for your pet. In addition to interactive toys that you can toss to your bird, you should also invest in some wooden chew toys made for birds.

Female albino cockatiel_Gary_Ellis_Photography_shutterstock
Image Credit: Gary_Ellis_Photography, Shutterstock



While cockatiels are friendly and social animals, it will likely take your bird a little bit of time to get used to you and your home. They are known for being skittish and may be frightened if you try to rush into touching or handling them too quickly. With a little patience, however, you should be able to form a bond with your cockatiel in no time.

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Featured Image Credit: rainyclub, Shutterstock

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