Cats and dogs we might understand, but birds, especially our friend the cockatiel, have behaviors that completely confound us as to what they mean.
Why is my cockatiel sitting at the bottom of the cage? The most basic reason why your cockatiel is seated at the bottom of the pen is that they are laying eggs. Age also comes into play since older birds prefer the soft peat at the bottom of the cage on their arthritic legs. If they are not pregnant or older, your bird might be sick.
Read further to determine if your cockatiel is pregnant and how to best care for the eggs, along with symptoms to look out for to make sure you contact the vet in time.
A pregnant bird
Since this is as stated above the common reason why your cockatiel is sitting at the bottom of their cage is that they are about to pass an egg. So we will give them a complete section of their own.
Even if you have a single cockatiel, they still will lay eggs. It is like their monthly cycle if you will, birds just going to lay. Since the cockatiel is a companion bird, it will lay unfertilized eggs more often.
Captive birds lay their eggs differently than wild birds do. Even providing your cockatiel a beautiful dark area to hide could activate their reproductive cycle.
First, we need to see if she has laid an egg and is sitting on it or if there are eggs in her.
It is essential that during these next few steps to move as slowly as possible and make all movements gentle.
As you are reaching your hand in their cage, you do not know the exact reason why they are acting this way and are only gathering evidence to understand better why your cockatiel is sitting at the bottom of their cage.
If your bird has several eggs in their stomach, any vigorous movements might cause them to break while still inside of her, which is fatal if she starts to react aggressively back off until she has settled down.
Once she allows you, check underneath her to see if she is hiding any eggs. If she isn’t very gently feel her stomach for an imprint of the eggs against her stomach.
If you can feel the imprint of eggs, but she isn’t laying them, she might be egg bound.
Egg binding means that she can’t dispel of the eggs naturally. If your bird is straining at the bottom of the cage and cannot disperse the eggs, it is time to take them to the vet. Treatment will depend on how long the bird has tried to give birth.
Caring for the eggs
Sometimes you will find out their gender by finding eggs with them at the bottom of the cage. While we would like to think the people who sold the bird where honest, everybody makes mistakes. So what you thought was a dude bird turned out to be a mother instead.
There are a few guidelines to follow to make sure she is being taken care of while also not encouraging her to lay her eggs.
In the wild, the environment and feeding cycle of the cockatiel plays a part in when she will lay, however in an environment where they are well fed and in comfortable temperatures their egg-laying will be a result of their reproductive cycle being activated.
Some other causes:
- Exposure to increased daylight hours
- Warm environment
- Bird bonding with an object or another animal, even you. (Some parrots and parakeets can get obsessed with mirrors. If you have a mirror in your cage, read our article on healthy and unhealthy behavior in Cockatiels when it comes to mirrors.)
- Variety of foods
- Plentiful water
- Dark confined spaces
- Natural fibers in the cage
- Petting bird on back, stomach or wings
As you can see, several things could cause a maturing cockatiel to start reproducing, and they can do this for their entire life.
When your bird has finished laying their eggs, which will take up to 48 hours, make sure not to remove the eggs that she has laid too soon, she will react by laying more eggs.
It doesn’t sound like a big deal, but even though these eggs are unfertilized, it still takes calcium for her to do so. If she continuedly lays, it could deplete her.
Instead, place a clear container on the bottom of the cage with paper towels inside.
Gently place the eggs in this container until your cockatiel loses interest in these eggs, which should take just a couple of day. The importance of the transparent container is that a darker environment might trigger her to produce even more eggs to brood over.
Other symptoms to look out for and workable solutions
If they are not giving birth, then it is time to pay attention to any other signs that they might be exhibiting and possible solutions.
The cockatiel in the wild is a ground forager. How active do they seem to be on the bottom of the cage? Are they peaking at seeds that have fallen or are they sitting still? Being active and eating are good signs that they are down there for a purpose, which is more food.
Since cockatiels can live upwards of 30 years in your bird’s elderly state, they might prefer a soft lower portion of their cage instead of the bars which might hurt their arthritis. Pay attention to them while they are down there.
Are they sitting doing nothing for extended, or are they nibbling at seeds?
Sickness in the wild is akin to a death sentence, and the cockatiel doesn’t have as long a history of domestication. So they tend to hide any sickness that they feel from you until they are not able to anymore.
If you are confident that your birdie is not pregnant, it is best to take them to the vet as soon as you can. Some doctors specialize in birds, known as Avian Veterinarians, or take them to your local vet if you don’t have that option.
Here are other signs that your cockatiel is feeling ill:
- Not eating or drinking (If your Cockatiel refuses to eat, this could be a pretty bad sign. So if you haven’t taken your Cockatiel to a vet yet, this article will show you how long Cockatiels can go without food before worse things happen.)
- Fluffed up (If your Cockatiel is puffed up all the time, there are several potential reasons for that. Read here why your Cockatiel is doing that and what you can do about it.)
- Unusual stool (A Cockatiel’s droppings can tell you exactly what’s wrong with your Cockatiel. Read our Cockatiel Poop Guide here!)
- Sneezing (If your Cockatiel is sneezing quite often, you should read this article.)
- Reactions to you
- Hiding beak and head under their wing
- Eyes closed all day
Provide these symptoms to your vet so that they can best diagnose what is wrong with your cockatiel and provide help.
Do Cockatiels feel love? Cockatiels show just as much affection that a cat or a dog would, only in their way. They can even have their preferred human. Pay attention to how they react to you. Do they seem excited that you have come over to them and gently nibble on your finger? Like most animals, ‘ affection is shown through attention.
What do you put at the bottom of a bird cage? While there are many options at stores for peat to spread at the bottom of your bird’s cage, the go-to is always a newspaper. Either folded or shredded to cover the bottom of the cage. It is recommended not to use a material that is hard to prevent injury to your bird.
Where should I put my cockatiel cage? While it might sound ideal, it is best not to keep your cockatiel next to the window unless you have appropriate coverage for them. They do well placed in a highly frequented corner of the house at chest level.