Having issues with my cockatiel's behavior


New member
Oct 2, 2022
Hey, I'm having some issues with my cockatiel and I really have no idea how to deal with them. I've hand raised him since he was 1 month old and he's 3 months old now.

He's just always scared of everything and is irrational, and I have no idea how to make him relax when he's going crazy. He always seems to develop a phobia even if things turn out to be a success and I have no idea how to get him to re-engage positively (showering for example, he had an amazing bathing behavior the first time we did it, now he just doesn't want to do it and closes his eyes like he's depressed). I just feel I have to constantly fake excitement for him to do certain things. I don't want to take a month to get him to shower by slowly bribing him for example and acting like showering is the greatest thing on god's given earth.

Example: Hand feeding him. He had a yeast infection because of the highly starchy formula and sometimes would refuse to eat. I played along and let him eat as much as he needed because I thought it was the right thing to do, but then I noticed his poop was a glossy green blob so I chose to force feed him, and he obviously didn't like that. We then went through a few weeks where he would fly out of the kitchen after taking in half a syringe of food, then I give him a small break to calm down, and I would go to him wherever he is and feed him there, so that he's in whatever is the most comfortable environment for him because that was the only thing that worked where he would willingly eat and not just stare at me or cry. His yeast infection was treated and he seemed to calm down but now he's going through that kind of behavior again, and it might be another yeast infection, I don't know, I can't afford to keep taking him to the vet. After becoming half full, you feel like his brain went completely blank and into panic mode, screaming as if he's about to die or something, when nothing is happening around him. He's only like that in the kitchen. He somehow associated the kitchen with a bad place. So I would sit there and just wait for him to relax and even tell him to relax or put my head next to him and pretend I'm looking in the same direction as him and talking as if all is good. I would sit there for upwards of 30 mins just staring at the sink or pretending to do things in the kitchen, all the while he's freaking out.

Another thing I don't like is how he's always flying to my head. His nails dig into my scalp and give me bruises. So when he lands, I have him step up, and I move him to a different location. The moment I turn my back or get distracted, he flies right back, it's almost like it's a game to him. I started having to block my head with my hand and now he actually flies away, which is not what I want, I want him to be around, just not on my head. He just never listens to anything.

I even developed a way of talking to him by saying "time to" before certain things, like "time to cuddles" or "time to eat" etc which makes no sense grammatically but the bird gets it. Even though I did the time to cuddles thing many times, and he understands it and starts making baby noises when I give him head scratches, it's just the initial approach between me and him makes me feel like he's always on guard, always weary. Like he doesn't even listen when I say time to cuddles and just freaks out by the sight of my hand, so I have to slow down and stop when he shows any tiny little subtle sign of discomfort and move in when he relaxes, I HATE THAT. What I don't understand is how, while cuddling, he would feel like I have an ulterior motive, like if I move my finger a certain way or whatever, he snaps and gets nippy, he doesn't bite hard but I always have to stop for a second, then go on. Sometimes though when it's dark or he's backed up into a corner or something, he would just bite nonstop, even if I do nothing with my finger, just the proximity freaks him out, and I'm talking like I'm in the middle of giving him head scratches but then I decide to switch to his side, which he normally loves, but in that moment he goes completely crazy. He bites my finger and makes a squeaky defensive noise like his life depends on it.

Really I'm at my whit's end and I need help, some of these things really anger me. I could go on about things like how he cries for hours when I put him in his cage that is equipped with all the toys he could need. I have to turn off the lights and put a towel on his cage so he doesn't see anything to make him think of being in my company, because he's extremely clingy.

Man that was long...

Really the question is, how am I supposed to do positive reinforcement in these situations, or how can I get him to do what I want him to do.

Any help would be appreciated, thank you...
Last edited:


Well-known member
Apr 25, 2020
Maybe you could wear a knit hat if your cockatiel is hurting your scalp? He might avoid your head then anyhow.

Your bird isn’t trying to be naughty or to upset you. Birds are emotional creatures. They can’t talk about what they feel so they get upset and flighty. Yes, he’s irrational. My Quakers are afraid of some random things. That’s just the way birds are—everything eats them in the wild so they are naturally easy to scare or to alert.

You sound like you are frustrated with your bird. It’s hard to hand raise a bird and he thinks you are his mommy. He’s confused and if you get mad he may be scared. And then he will cry or scream more.

My parrot was making an annoying whistle ALL THE TIME. I get headaches so this was a big problem. But I noticed it seemed like he was scared or anxious when he made this whistle. So I started responding “it’s ok” or “I’m in the bedroom/ bathroom/ kitchen” or “I’m right here, Jasper bird” and now he hardly ever makes that whistle. But took a little while but my guess that he was making a scared noise and needed reassurance was correct. And my bird is less anxious and much happier now.

If your bird is acting and pooping the same as when he had a yeast infection before, he does need to go to the vet before he gets sicker. The yeast infection would make him feel bad and maybe always hungry or itchy which would make him call a lot.

What is your bird’s name? He does love you; he isn’t trying to be annoying but he is just a Baby and you are his “mom”. You’re the only person he can go to. do you have a friend or parent who can help you out?

Yes, birds get very panicked because they are “lunch” for everything outside. So you need to be calm and loving and reassure him by words and actions that he is safe. Tell him that you live him and want him to be happy. Feed him little treats out of your hand. And if you think he is sick, please do take him to the vet.

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