Cockatiels are funny birds and they have a lot of character and personality about them. But what does it mean when they puff up their feathers? Should this be something that you should worry about?
Why is my cockatiel puffed up? There are a variety of reasons why your feathered friend may be puffed up. Most of the time, it will be to keep warm at night when temperatures are low. It can also be during preening, as a defensive mechanism and to relieve tension. But your cockatiel could be sick.
Of course, the last thing you want is for your cockatiel to be ill. So, we are going to take a look at this question in more detail so you can know if this behavior is normal or something to worry about.
Cockatiels and Why They Puff Up Their Feathers
When cockatiels puff up their feathers, it is easy to spot. Instead of having a smooth appearance, the feathers will appear separated and puffier. Your cockatiel will appear rounder than they normally are.
But the reason why they do this can be different. So, let’s take a look at some of the common reasons for puffing up feathers.
1. Keeping Warm
Just like anyone else, cockatiels like to get comfortable for sleeping. His usually involves finding a nice spot on a perch that feels safe. But your cockatiel will also want to feel warm and cozy. This is often when they puff up.
During the night, their body temperature will be lower. So, in order to retain heat, they puff up their feathers. They might also tuck their head underneath their wing.
When your cockatiel puffs up to sleep, this is completely normal. They’re just trying to keep warm. If they’re only doing it to nap during the day or sleep at night, don’t worry.
But if you do notice that your cockatiel is doing it increasingly throughout the day, this can be a sign of illness. You can also help your fluffy friend to stay warm during the night by covering their cage with a blanket.
Also, you can get a heated perch if you notice that your Cockatiel is puffed up because it is cold. Heated perches are actually pretty nice as they are easy to use and pretty inexpensive. Read our article on heated perches here!
Preening is when your cockatiel cleans their feathers. This is something they do naturally, removing any dirt on them. In order to do this, they often fluff up their feathers. This allows them to clean all the feathers and arrange them to where they should be.
It is obvious when they are preening and it is nothing that should alarm you.
3. Being Defensive
If your cockatiel is feeling threatened and wants to be defensive, they may puff up their feathers. This is to give the illusion that they are bigger than they actually are to scare away predators.
So, if you have done something to annoy your cockatiel, or there is something in the room they are trying to challenge, they may fluff up their feathers.
4. To Relieve Tension
You may notice that your cockatiel puffs out their feathers and then shakes their body. This is often a way for your fluffy friend to relax after some type of tension.
For example, if they have been frightened by something, whether it was a noise or an animal in the room, they may puff up and then shake. Their feathers should return to normal after doing this. Of course, this is totally natural and nothing to worry about.
If your Cockatiel seems to be scared pretty often, we recommend reading the following two articles:
5. Suffering from Illness
While your cockatiel puffing up their feathers can be innocent, if they are doing this for most of the day, this is usually a bad sign. They often fluff out their feathers when they are sick and they nap a lot.
It is important not to ignore this sign and to monitor if they do this increasingly throughout the day. Normally, your cockatiel should be active during daylight hours.
This includes eating, exercising, playing with toys and preening. They should also be fairly talkative. So, excessive sleeping and puffing up can be a bad sign.
Often, there are other signs of illness that you can spot with your cockatiel. This can include:
- Loss of appetite
- Excessive plucking
- Change in behavior
- Excessive sleeping
- Drooping of the head, wings or tail
- Weight loss
- Runny droppings
If you spot any of these signs combined with puffing out, it is essential to take your cockatiel to a veterinarian as soon as possible. There may be something that can be done to help your bird and allow them to make a full recovery.
You can also tell whether or not your Cockatiel is sick by having a look at his/her droppings. The droppings actually tell you a lot about your bird’s health. We highly recommend reading our Cockatiel Dropping Guide here!
Fluffing Up Crest Feathers
You may have noticed the long feathers located on your cockatiel’s head. These are called crest feathers and your feathery friend often uses them to communicate.
In fact, you’ll also notice that they puff them up in certain circumstances and you may wonder what this means. Well, often they do this when they are excited or alert. When they are talking, often the crest feathers will be fluffed up.
Interestingly, they do not fluff them up when they are sleeping, despite their body sometimes puffing up. If your cockatiel is frightened or fearful, the crest feathers will be flat and they will not be as noticeable on their head.
Signs of a Happy Cockatiel
Now that you know why your cockatiel is puffing up, what are some signs that he or she is happy? Well, you can often tell from their body language, as well as how chatty they are.
For example, if your cockatiel walks towards you when you approach them, this is a sign that they are enjoying your company and want to interact with you. They are often a lot more curious about their surroundings and want to explore the world around them.
They love to talk and you often find that cockatiels like to sing and whistle. Chirping noises can indicate they’re annoyed, but most of the time, they are happy. One thing you do not want to hear is hissing.
This could be followed by an aggressive lunge and they are showing that they are not happy with you. This is a sign for a timeout.
Are there signs that your cockatiel is looking for attention? Absolutely. Here are some ways to tell that your cockatiel wants to grab your attention:
- Hopping up and down
- Loud squawking or screeching noises
- Banging their beak against a surface
Can cockatiels learn to speak and talk? Cockatiels are able to memorize and learn phrases. This is through mimicking sounds that they hear. It is normally male cockatiels that enjoy talking more than females. You will notice that they pick up on words you say often and can repeat them.
How long do cockatiels normally sleep for? It is common for cockatiels to sleep for 10 to 12 hours through the night. This is normally uninterrupted sleep. Some active birds may take small afternoon naps. But sleeping too much during the day can be a sign of illness and should be monitored closely.
What time should cockatiels sleep? It is best for cockatiels to get around 10 hours of darkness in order to sleep. This can be achieved in a dark room or by putting a blanket over their cage at night. This encourages them to sleep and know that it is night time. These are the hours that you sleep.