Cockatiels are beautiful birds with so many endearing characteristics. One question I’ve always wondered is: why do some of them seem to be attracted to shiny things, like rings or necklaces? There’s nothing quite like having a beak darting toward your finger or neck, so today I decided to do a little digging and find out why.
So, why are cockatiels drawn to jewelry? Male birds often use glittery objects to entice females as part of the mating ritual or to make their nests feel and look nicer. Animals have been found to associate shiny objects with clean water, which could also explain the attraction.
Several studies have tried to figure out exactly why birds behave this way, so let’s dig in.
The Science Behind It
Some experiments have been conducted as scientists try to find out why animals are drawn to shiny things.
It’s not only humans that seem to have this distinct attraction to shiny objects. Often birds and monkeys gather and hoard shiny objects that they find visually appealing. But why?
In the study conducted, they found this behavior in children that were too young to understand that glossy magazines represented wealth. They also found that the thirstier the participants were, the more they liked glossy or shiny things.
All animals have an innate need for clean water. It’s a deep-seated instinct that has survived alongside countless generations of all animals. Over time, animals learned that murky water might make the drinker ill, so they learned to avoid it.
As animals evolved, it seems that this desire for shiny, glittery things hasn’t subsided. At the end of the study, they concluded that glossy surfaces attracted attention due to its similarity to water.
Is this the reason why Cockatiels often lunge for shiny jewelry? Or is there something more behind the behaviors? Let’s take a look.
Wild and Captive Cockatiels
Cockatiels originated in Australia and had to adapt to the hot and dry climate of the land. Finding a fresh source of water is of the utmost importance for these wild birds. Without water, they wouldn’t be able to survive.
Being attracted to shiny objects would definitely help them thrive, allowing them to spot water sources easily from a distance.
So, why are they still attracted to shiny things if they’re in captivity? While Cockatiels have changed as they’ve been domesticated, such as their slightly larger bodies and larger crests, most aspects of their personality haven’t changed.
Wild Cockatiels often favor dead trees to nest in. The male bird inspects holes in the trees, searching for one that is suitable.
Once he has found one, he will decorate it with his beak by gnawing at it. This behavior is mirrored in domestic birds, as they love to chew toys and pieces of wood.
Cockatiels still use their loud voices to communicate with those around them by mimicking sounds from their environment. In wild birds, this is part of their mating display as they try to lure in females. However, in domestic birds, they often copy sounds that they hear regularly.
This can be quite troublesome for human ears, as they can repeat rather annoying or loud sounds, such as smoke detectors. This isn’t all bad, though. Since Cockatiels are such smart animals, they can be trained to copy sounds that you want them to.
The mating ritual of wild Cockatiels is often a complicated and noisy affair. The male will try to impress the female, often in loud displays. If she’s impressed, she’ll allow him to court her.
In domestic Cockatiels, this ritual can be quite entertaining. They are not subtle creatures. The males will often scoot up to the female they’re interested in and whistle as loudly as he can. Some Cockatiels do this to humans, which can cause ears to ring for hours afterward!
While Cockatiels don’t seem to use shiny objects to lure potential mates, it doesn’t mean that they don’t enjoy playing with them.
How Cockatiels Play
Cockatiels can be shy and a little scared when first introduced to a new item. They are mostly visual birds, so they will watch it while keeping their distance. Once they feel more comfortable, they are likely to put the item in their mouth.
This could explain why Cockatiels might sometimes lunge for your jewelry–they’re just curious! It’s best to introduce new toys and items to their environment slowly. Cockatiels need time to acclimatize to it, especially if they’ve never had anything similar before.
When they know that the new thing in their presence isn’t going to harm them, they will then start to play and have fun. Cockatiels often love playing with little bells not only because they’re shiny, but also because they make lots of noise, too!
Cockatiels, just like humans, often get bored and need some entertainment. If you choose the toys wisely, they can also be great for your Cockatiel’s health.
Swings and ropes can be great entertainment for Cockatiels, allowing them to hang from heights (as long as it feels sturdy under their feet!)
Play gyms, where they can climb on bars and stretch out their muscles, are a fantastic way to keep your Cockatiel healthy. It will also help them burn a few calories and stop them from getting fat.
Our articles below show you some great toys and equipment for Cockatiels that will keep your Cockatiel fit and happy:
- Why Cockatiels love swings!
- Can parrots play with baby toys? They can!
- How to teach your Cockatiel to dance!
- Why you should get a rope perch for your bird!
Most of the time, Cockatiels are gentle and sweet animals with lovely dispositions. They can be trained to talk or sing and make great companions. However, there may be some other reasons why your Cockatiel might be biting at your rings or fingers.
One of the biggest reasons for behavioral issues in Cockatiels is a lack of stimulation.
They are incredibly social animals and, if they feel lonely, they can often bite out of frustration. This can easily be solved by spending more quality time with your pet or by getting them a mate. A Cockatiel bite can hurt pretty badly as we show you here!
If your Cockatiel has been abused by previous owners or hasn’t been socialized properly, they can often lash out at you when you try to get close.
However, these behaviors can often be remedied by having patience with your Cockatiel and slowly building a trusting relationship with them.
If you don’t want your Cockatiel to consistently lunge for your fingers or ears when you approach, training is a great way to achieve that.
All it will take is some time and patience and, before long, your Cockatiel will leave your jewelry alone. Whenever they behave the way you want them to (by not biting your hands, let’s say) then you give them a treat.
Should Cockatiels have mirrors? Since Cockatiels are attracted to shiny objects, you might think that getting them a mirror would be stimulating for them. However, when they see their reflection they will mistake it for another bird and could become confused or upset because it doesn’t respond the way they expect.
Do Cockatiels need a companion? Cockatiels are social birds and they need plenty of interaction to be happy, whether that be with humans or another bird. If they don’t get their social needs met, they can become depressed. This means that they will stop playing, singing, or even eating.
What other birds can Cockatiels live with? Generally, your Cockatiel will get along with birds of a similar size. If the new bird is too big, your Cockatiel might get bullied, and if the new bird is too small, your Cockatiel might turn into the bully. It is best to introduce a new bird while your Cockatiel is still young so they can develop a bond that lasts as they grow older.