Why Is My Cockatiel Bobbing Its Head? (You Must Know)

The body language of a cockatiel conveys a lot about their mood and state of mind. However, sometimes it becomes difficult to understand your pet’s actions.

The same thing happened when I found my cockatiel bobbing its head for the first time. So, the question for the day is, why is my cockatiel bobbing its head? I did some research and consulted a few veterinarians. Here is what I found about it.

In general, head bobbing in cockatiels indicates the action of courtship and dominance. Some cockatiels even show such behavior when they are hungry, bored, stressed, or want to grab your attention. Specific health issues such as ear infections and brain disorders can even lead to your bird bobbing its head.

You need to understand your cockatiel’s body language if you want to identify the reason for such behavior in your little ones.

There is much more to learn about this head-bobbing behavior of our cockatiels and what we should do about it. So, I would encourage you to read this article till the end so you can understand it in detail.

What Does It Mean When A Cockatiel Bob It’s Head?

Head bobbing is not always a bad sign in Cockatiels. Most of the time, it either represents a social behavior or a compulsive action triggered by boredom.

Sometimes specific health problems such as brain disorders or heat strokes can lead to such conditions in cockatiels.

Some research even says that cockatiels bobbing its head can be a symptom of an imbalance of chemicals in their brain.

If your cockatiel shows any of these symptoms or if you feel that your pet is sick, I advise you to take them to a vet. They will be able to provide your bird with the necessary treatment.


Cockatiels often bob their heads when they are out of food. These little birds need adequate nutrition to keep themselves healthy and happy.

Sometimes, cockatiels even like crazy when they are thirsty.

If your cockatiel is dehydrated, he might try to grab your attention by doing some weird stuff.

It is essential to monitor your pet’s water intake. This will help you analyze if your bird is consuming enough water.


Cockatiels can get bored pretty quickly. Therefore, we need to make sure that our pet is suitably stimulated.

Lack of stimulation or a source of entertainment can effortlessly bore your pet. If your pet is bored, it might start to bob its head.

There are two primary forms of stimulation, namely physical and mental motivation. You need to strike a balance between these activities.

You should try to provide your pet with toys that help them engage in their natural behavior. This will keep them happy and content.


Cockatiels do not handle changes very well, so they get stressed quickly.

If your cockatiel is stressed, he might bob his head like crazy. Some of the everyday things that lead to stress in cockatiels are:

  • Sudden loud noises
  • Possible threat
  • Inadequate space
  • Frequent traveling
  • Change in routine
  • Mishandling
  • Unstable temperature
  • Health complications

Stress could further lead to severe health conditions in our birds Therefore, you must try your best to provide your cockatiels with the life they deserve.

Courtship Behavior

Running around in circles can be a kind of mating dance in cockatiels.

It is their way of asking their partners to mate. In such cases, the runs will be accompanied by soft squeaking chirps.

However, if your birds turn aggressive, I would advise you to separate them. There are chances that they might engage in a fight and end up hurting themselves.

Brain Disorder

Certain neurological brain disorders might lead to head bobbing in cockatiels. In most cases, these disorders are genetically passed on to the birds.

Head or brain traumas are yet another reason why cockatiels bob their head.

If you have any suspicions about your pet’s health, it would be best to take your cockatiel to a vet.

Attention Seeking Behavior

In most cases, cockatiels bob their head just to get their owner’s attention.

If you have not fulfilled your bird’s basic needs, they might just bob their heads to grab your attention.

If your cockatiels are bobbing their heads to grab your attention, they want you to ask them. They will also make loud chirping noises while bobbing their head.

If you understand your bird’s behavior and give them what they are asking for, it will probably stop running around in circles.

Territorial Behavior

When cockatiels are housed together, they often show signs of territorial aggression. Such behavior tells us that your cockatiels have not bonded well.

In some way, cockatiels are territorial. If your bird feels that some threat is nearby, it might start to bob its head out of fear.

While some cockatiels are more dominant than others, we must understand that it is their natural bonding process, and we must not intervene.

However, if the head bobbing behavior turns into fighting, I advise you to separate your birds as soon as possible.

Should I Be Concerned About My Cockatiel’s Head Bobbing?

You must have learned that head bobbing in cockatiels is pretty common.

Your cockatiel will bob its head usually just to grab your attention or to keep itself entertained.

If you have housed more than one cockatiel in a single cage, then there are high chances that your cockatiels are bobbing their head just to mark or protect their territory.

It is vital to keep an eye on your bird. If you find something unusual in your cockatiel’s head bobbing, it could signify something is wrong.

Check your bird’s eyes, beak, and feather condition. Also, notice if your bird vocalizes as usual.

Consult a veterinarian if your intuition tells you something wrong with your bird.


If you are a new cockatiel owner, then it is perfectly normal for you to wonder if it is normal for cockatiels to bob their heads.

You must understand the cause behind the same. In most cases, you must not worry. It is pretty common among cockatiels to bob their heads.

In most cases, cockatiels bob their head just out of fun or curiosity. However, do not ignore it if you feel something is wrong.

If your cockatiel is bobbing its head alongside other health symptoms, I would advise you to take your bird to a vet as soon as possible.


Hello, I am Mohini, the founder of this blog. I am a qualified Animal Nutrition. I am here to help everyone understand their pets better.

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