Cockatiel Bites – Do Cockatiels Bite?

Cockatiel Bites – Do Cockatiels Bite?  

Yes, cockatiel bites can happen, in fact, any hook-beaked bird has the potential to bite you really hard. There is no doubt that a hard cockatiel bite will hurt. There is the possibility of the beak breaking the skin and causing some pain. But this will normally only give you a fright and some discomfort, rather than cause a lot of pain. Although skin can be broken, it normally feels like somebody is giving you a painful pinch.

Cockatiels that have not been tamed properly tend to bite, and it is common for a cockatiel to bite if he is scared or feels trapped. This goes for a trained cockatiel as well as if they are frightened or threatened they can give a painful bite.

If a cockatiel bites, he will normally give a warning that he is going to bite.  He starts by opening his mouth, then lunges forward hissing at you and warning you off.  Next, he will either attack you with his beak or find somewhere he can bite and hang on to.  Other signs that he is going to bite include swaying from side to side, spreading out his tail feathers, moving his wings out sideways away from his body, and he can also puff his feathers out.

Reasons Why A Cockatiel Bites

Remember that your cockatiel doesn’t have massive claws, fangs, teeth, or size, so it can resort to biting to defend itself. In the wild they will also bite to protect their nests and their young by biting. It is a way for them to defend their homes.

Fighting with other birds and delivering bites are not natural tendencies of cockatiels in the wild. But out in nature, all parrots use their beaks to climb, eat, create nests and feed their young. However, it’s common for these birds in the wild to instinctively display aggressive behavior like biting when attempting to defend themselves and their young.

Here is a list of main reasons why cockatiel bites:

  • Survival
  • Fear
  • A new bird who doesn’t yet trust you.
  • A bird that was poorly treated in the past and has trust issues.
  • A bird that is not let out of his cage enough, and fears leaving his cage.
  • A bird that feels trapped.
  • A breeding bird that is disturbed.
  • Hormonal biting, if the bird is feeling frustrated.
  • If you have frightened your bird in the past by trying to grab it or pick it up with a towel.
  • Hormonal Changes
  • Stress
  • Defending Their Territory
  • As a Means Of Getting Your Attention
  • An Attempt To Bond With You

cockatiel bites

Are Cockatiels Safe Pets For Children?

Well, if you compare a cockatiel bite with a dog bite, the dog bite will be much worse. Dogs can bite for the same reasons that cockatiels do.  The one consolation is that a cockatiel’s beak is a lot smaller than a dog’s mouth and it has no teeth.  But they can still draw blood.

A cockatiel tends to grab and hold onto a soft piece of fleshy skin and then chew.  It feels like somebody is sticking a thick pin into you.  A cockatiel will normally only do this if he feels threatened.  If you are not careful he could even remove some flesh off of you.

If your child wants a cockatiel as a pet, try to get a hand-reared one, or tame the bird first before giving it to your child.

Instruct your child how to handle the bird and make sure that your child is gentle with the bird.  It is best to give a cockatiel as a pet to a mature child who is over the age of 6.

Are Cockatiels Mean Birds Who Like To Bite?

The experts say there is no such thing as a mean-spirited cockatiel.  If they do bite they are almost always provoked to do so in response to a situation. Birds are not meant to bite, as they are small animals of prey and lack ways to protect themselves.  Their natural instinct in the wild will be to take flight, but if they are backed into a corner, they instinctively use aggressive behavior as best they can.

In the wild, cockatiels don’t use their beaks to bite.  They have other uses for their beaks, like climbing, feeding their young, eating, and preening.

Remember, like any pet, you need to take time to build a good relationship with your cockatiel.  If your cockatiel bites, do not smack him or flick him on the beak, as this will only make matters worse. Patience and time are key when taming your bird. Use treats and positive reinforcement for good behaviour.

For more on cockatiel training, click here.


  1. Hi

    I came across your website regarding Cockatiels and found it most interesting.

    I would never have considered cockatiels as mean pets but I wasn’t aware that they bite as much either. This is really good to know especially when it comes to having these pets when children are around.

    An interesting and informative write up.

    Best wishes

  2. I think you are dead right. They will only bite when cornered and feel threatened, because in the wild they would simply fly away from danger. A hand-reared cockatiel should be fine with children. There is a huge difference between birds that have had regular human contact and those that haven’t. If you are going to have one as a pet for small children, then they’ll need to be very gentle with the bird.

  3. I happened to come across your site and it is very interesting. You know everything I need to know about cockatiels.

    I was thinking about getting a bird and this sure helped me to make up my mind.

    You make it sound easy to train a cockatiel to talk.and that each cockatiel have their own characters.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This website contains affiliate links, which means that commissions will be paid to the owners of this website if any purchases are made. This is at no extra cost to the buyer of the products.