Cockatiel Illness Symptoms And Why These Birds Get Sick

Luckily cockatiels are really hardy little birds, and if looked after well and kept out of drafts and free of stress, they rarely get ill. Here we shall look at cockatiel diseases and cockatiel illness symptoms as well as injuries that may happen.

Why Do Captive Birds Get Sick?

Not all bird species are suitable for aviculture, as they customarily eat foods such as insects, for which there is no good artificial substitute, or, perhaps require to be housed in an environment that differs too greatly from their native tropical rain-forest. But, like the other fourteen of fifteen species of truly domesticated birds, the cockatiels captive diet is not too different from that of their wild counterparts.

cockatiel illness symptomsIndeed, except for the actual species of seed, the domestic cockatiel’s diet may be almost identical in the nutrients absorbed.

Except by restricting flying, even the barest and unimaginatively furnished aviary or cage cannot be more austere than can some of the Australian desert that they originally come from.

All cockatiel illness symptoms and diseases, even though they are usually attributed to a specific microorganism or deficiency of some food item, are aggravated or precipitated by stress of some kind.

Stress includes all those circumstances and conditions which create a disturbance or an unease in what would otherwise be a normal mental or physiological state.

An animal of any kind that is perfectly well-fed and housed but is unable to relax because of overcrowding, for example, will fall ill. If disease organisms are present, these will introduce a specific disease to the bird.

The disease process or organism causing the disease may be treated specifically, but without also reducing the surrounding stress this disease or another will again make the bird ill.

Even otherwise harmless bacteria, molds or viruses can create a disease if the stress level is great enough.

Pneumonia may be taken as an example of a disease created by stress.

Most mammals have organisms present at all times in their lungs that cause bacterial pneumonia. They usually cause no upset and the animal is unaware of their presence. But if the body is subject to stress, the resistance of the mammal to infection is lowered as, for example, by becoming thoroughly chilled and soaked. Then these otherwise innocuous organisms rapidly build up numbers and invade the lung tissue thus causing bacterial pneumonia.

Because the cockatiel’s domesticated life and food are not too different from the wild, they are remarkably free from disease in general.

The majority of breeders accept losses in the nest as being ‘natural.’ By far the largest number of deaths in cockatiels are directly attributable to the stresses of breeding.

Cockatiel Illness Symptoms

Infections disease can only be successfully diagnosed by the person qualified to do so, namely the veterinarian.

But as a sick bird with one complaint looks just the same as one suffering from something else, the veterinarian may have more difficulty in determining the complaint with the visible illness symptoms than he would with a larger animal.

In my experience, many cage birds, whether the illness symptoms befit, loss of feathers, crusty eyes or even vague wellness, are actually suffering from a vitamin deficiency.

In the wild cockatiels would obtain green food, minerals and other things that they cannot get in a cage. It has often been shown that such ill birds can be restored to health if the diet is broadened and especially if some commercial vitamin drops are added to the water like this one that I use regularly.

More care is normally given to birds with diarrhea and constipation. Provided that the bird seems in good health, the state of its feces are very likely irrelevant.
It is cruel to add laxative medicines to drinking water when constipation is actually a disease that probably hardly ever if never affects birds.

If diarrhea persists and the bird looks ill, seek expert help.

It is unlikely but it could be that the bird is suffering from a complaint that is contagious to humans and delay may increase the risk.

Lastly, people are rightly afraid of contracting psittacosis from a caged bird. I have never yet seen or heard of a case with a cockatiel, but this does not mean that it cannot happen. Keep sick birds away from other birds you may have is the best advice I can give.

For more on cockatiel diseases, you can read this.

Injury And Accidents

Captive birds sometimes suffer from broken limbs. It is amazing how much trouble leg rings can cause in this regard.

It’s amazing because, in the sheltered environment of an aviary or cage, birds sometimes get caught by a ring getting hooked over a projecting wire in circumstances that might be thought impossible.

Aviary wire must, therefore, be well fastened down to avoid these accidents happening in the first place.

If domesticated birds can do this to themselves, I wonder what hazards wild birds who have been ringed for scientific study are facing?illness symptoms

The loss of birds by ringing or banding must be the greatest cause of loss in some populations of wild birds, and any studies that do not take into account this wastage must give an entirely incorrect final result.

If the leg that is broken carries a close-ring, this must be cut off. This is easily performed using a very sharp pair of nail clippers and biting these onto the ring across its depth.

The bird should be held by an assistant when doing this and the operator is then able to steady the ring with his other hand.

The ring is then pulled open. If sharp nail clippers are not available, take the bird to your nearest veterinarian.

Cockatiels are extremely resistant to infections from open wounds. Amputation, even of the most dreadful looking of fractures, should never be resorted to until it has been proved that the limb is indeed dead beyond repair.

For simple fractures, a minimum of support is needed, sometimes no more than some transparent tape holding the wing in its normal position or keeping the leg from folding.

Splints made of matchsticks can be very harsh and cause ulcers or death of the tissue.

For more illness symptoms to look out for, click here.


  1. Thank you. I would like to ask which are the main reasons why a cockatiel can get pneumonia? I know its a bacterial infection but what things can cause it? My little queen had pneumonia 2 months ago and since one week I’ve been realizing that she wants to sleep more than her other relatives, that she’s a bit puffy and that sometimes she makes a stange sound with her nose so yesterday I took her to the veterinarian and she told me that the symptoms were pretty similar to the last ones in which she had pneumonia. She gave me Baytril to give her until she talks with the avian vet and sees what to do. Im very worried, please I just hope everything goes fine and she gets well soon, she’s my baby fighter

    1. Hi Aaron,

      There could be any number of reasons, the main ones being either exposed to a draught or not eating enough of the right things.
      I hope that your cockatiel gets well soon. Keep her warm and what I did when my budgie had a cold recently was give vitamins with electrolytes formula for birds and she is now bright and perky again.

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