Why Do Cockatiels Enjoy Having Their Heads Scratched

I have always wondered why the majority of cockatiels that I have owned throughout my life have enjoyed having their heads scratched. In fact, they just can’t seem to get enough, and if I carry on they would let me do it all day.

So, what is the secret pleasure behind cockatiels’ love for ‘ Head Scratching? Let’s start unveiling the quirky habits of these feathered companions.

why do cockatiels enjoy having their head scratched

Cockatiels, those delightful and charismatic feathered creatures, have captured the hearts of pet owners worldwide.

With their vibrant colors, enchanting crests, and playful personalities, it’s no wonder they are cherished as lovely companions. Among their many quirks, one behavior prevails prominently – their sheer delight in having their heads scratched. But why exactly do cockatiels enjoy having their heads scratched? Let’s delve into the fascinating world of these delightful birds and discover the surprising reasons behind this universal avian pleasure.

Unlocking the Mystery:

Why do cockatiels enjoy having their heads scratched?

As pet owners, we often find ourselves immersed in the undeniable charm of our avian friends, especially when observing their sheer bliss while being lightly scratched behind their crests or necks. While the answer to this mystery may seem trivial, it actually encompasses multiple factors.

a) Sensory Stimulation: 

The feathered crown atop a cockatiel’s head is covered in specialized nerve receptors known as “powder-down feathers.” When these feathers are gently disturbed, they release a fine powder that maintains their plumage. Head scratching allows these sensors to be stimulated, invoking an ethereal sensation of pleasure akin to a gentle massage.

b) Social Bonding:

In the wild, cockatiels groom each other as a form of social bonding. By scratching their heads, we mimic this behavior, creating an intimate connection between the bird and its owner. This interaction not only strengthens the human-pet bond but also provides a sense of reassurance and security to these naturally sociable creatures.

The Art of Cockatiel Head Scratching:

Head Scratching Tactics to Please Your Feathered Friend

Now that we’ve explored the reasons behind our cockatiels’ head-scratching obsession, let’s discuss the different strategies to indulge them in this unique pleasure.

a) Location, Location, Location: 

Identifying your cockatiel’s preferred spot for head scratching is crucial. Observe their reactions and body language to find the sweet spot that elicits the most contentment. Generally, these areas include the back of the neck, behind the crest, or directly on top of the head.

b) The Perfect Touch:

Finding the right amount of pressure can make all the difference. Experiment with light strokes and gentle scratches, mimicking the touch of another cockatiel’s beak. Pay attention to your pet’s response, adjusting the intensity accordingly. Remember, each bird is unique, and preferences may vary.why do cockatiels enjoy having their heads scratched

c) Feather Your Nest:

A well-preened cockatiel is a happy cockatiel. As they are unable to reach all their feathers with their beaks, lending a helping hand is essential. While scratching their head, you can also gently brush their feathers, removing any dirt or tangles. This additional grooming will intensify their satisfaction, leaving them feeling pampered and pristine.

Cockatiels’ Quirky Reactions:

Unlocking the Enigma

As we scratch our cockatiels’ heads, we are sometimes met with an array of peculiar reactions. Understanding these quirky responses contributes to a more satisfying interaction between owner and pet.

a) The Bobbing Dance:

Cockatiels often respond to head-scratching with synchronous head-bobbing. This rhythmic dance is an expression of pleasure and contentment. Embrace the entertainment as you witness their synchronized moves, enjoying the harmonious bond between human and bird.

b) The Feathered Fracas: 

Some cockatiels exhibit an adorable behavior known as “fluffing up” while enjoying head scratches. As they embrace the sensation, their feathers fluff up, creating a comical yet endearing sight. This reaction is an outward display of their total relaxation and ultimate satisfaction.

c) Melodious Serenade:

There’s no sound sweeter than the contented chirp of a happy cockatiel. While scratching their heads, you may witness their singing prowess in full swing, as they serenade you with joyful melodies. This concert serves as a testament to their sheer delight, an appreciation for the head-scratching symphony orchestrated by their human companion.


Cockatiels are extraordinary creatures that never cease to amaze us with their charming antics and idiosyncratic behavior. Their love for head scratching is just one captivating aspect of their delightful nature.

Through our exploration, we uncovered the sensory pleasures, social bonding, and grooming rituals that make head-scratching an irresistible treat for these feathered friends. So, grab your fluffy companion, get ready to bob and sing along, and delight in giving them the ultimate head-scratching experience.

After all, the cockatiel’s joy lies in the palm of your hand, quite literally!

Do your birds also enjoy having their heads scratched?


  1. Awww, this is so cute to see that cockatiels love having their heads scratched! It’s like dogs that seem to have their bum massaged: a sensation of certain endorphins that get released, but I didn’t realize that cockatiels also have their stimulations spots like this, so funny 🙂 I will try to find the perfect spot and touch for my cockatiel as well, I have some bonding to do, thanks for the tips!

  2. Whenever I give my feathered friend a gentle head scratch, their joyful reaction is priceless. Those tips for nailing the perfect cockatiel head scratching were spot on! Yes, it’s all about finding their favorite spots and getting the pressure and technique just right. The synchronized head-bobbing is a total mood, and when their feathers fluff up, it’s the cutest thing ever. 

    Thank you for a very helpful and interesting read!

  3. This is such an interesting and helpful post on cockatiels and why they like to have their heads scratched. My sister has a cockatiel, and is always telling me how much the cockatiel enjoys the act of scratching its head, so this explains it more to me.

    I have often wondered if there is some sensual pleasure for the cockatiel to have it’s head scratched. I will be sharing this post with the family. 

  4. As someone new to the world of cockatiels, I find their love for head scratching fascinating. The article explains the reasons behind this behavior, such as sensory stimulation and social bonding, which are quite intriguing. However, I’m curious about the head-scratching process itself.

    The article mentions different strategies for head scratching, like finding the right location and adjusting the pressure. As a beginner, I’d like to know more about how to approach head scratching with a cockatiel for the first time. Are there any specific signs or body language cues that can help me understand if my cockatiel is enjoying the head scratching, and how can I ensure that I’m providing a pleasant and comfortable experience for my feathered friend?

    1. Hi Skamalka,

      Believe me, you will know that they are enjoying it, because if they are not they move away or try and bite your hand. The first few times you hold a finger towards their head and gently touch the top until they are more confident, then they start to turn their head so that your finger touches the right spot. It may take a few tries, and some cockatiels never seem to want this, but the majority do.

  5. With my Cockatiel if I don’t pay attention to him (all the time) he comes up and nibbles on my finger to get a scratch, and if I wait even longer to scratch him on the head the nibbles get harder, is that something normal with Cockatiels?.

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