If it’s your first time owning a cockatiel, you might have noticed that they sometimes hang upside down. At first, this can be super worrying. What if your cockatiel falls? Is it okay? Is this normal behavior?
You might have observed your cockatiel hanging upside down while it is sleeping, playing, eating, or drinking. Such behavior is typical for cockatiels and should not cause you any worry. Cockatiels are often preyed upon by larger animals, which is why they have learned to roost in high locations.
If your cockatiel chooses to hang upside down for sleeping, I would advise you not to disturb them.
If you are worried about your bird, then the only thing that you should do is observe your pet closely. You will only need to consult a veterinarian when other symptoms of illness accompany the behavior.
Do Cockatiels Like Hanging Upside Down?
While hanging may seem uncomfortable to humans, it is an instinct for our cockatiels to do so.
In most cases, hanging upside down is typically done when cockatiels are happy and feel safe, as the position tends to leave your bird vulnerable.
If your cockatiel hangs upside down in your presence, it may signify that he likes and trusts you.
Why Is My Cockatiel Hanging Upside Down?
Be it wild cockatiels or domesticated ones, cockatiels have an instinct to get as high as possible. This act of a cockatiel signifies self-preservation.
There have been cases where cockatiels tend to hand upside down just for recreational purposes. Most cockatiels love human companionship and love to entertain their owners.
When your cockatiels choose to hand upside down without the ability to fly away, it’s vulnerable and can’t defend themselves.
Your cockatiels might even choose to hang upside down from the ceiling of a cage to show trust in you.
In most cases, your cockatiel’s decision to hang upside down in a cage will be spontaneous, as studies suggest that there are practical reasons why wild cockatiels adopt this position, including:
Cockatiels are known to be pretty protective over what they perceive as theirs. If your cockatiel is hanging upside down a lot, then it could be a sign of territoriality.
In cockatiels, the hanging behavior has been reported most often in females, eager to establish who the cage belongs to.
However, if your cockatiel is the only one in the cage and it’s still hanging upside down, you may have encroached on the bird’s territory.
In the wild, cockatiels have several predators. Therefore, hanging upside down will give your bird some valuable escape seconds.
If your cockatiel hangs upside down, it can release its grip on a tree branch, drop down, and fly away.
It takes more work to sit up straight. The cockatiel must deliberately release its hold on the branch, maintain balance, flap its wings, and fly away because its feet will still be entangled in the branch.
Even while it will still happen quickly, if an eagle or other swooping bird of prey is present, 2-3 seconds might be the difference between life and death.
Your cockatiel’s ability to hang upside down enables it to react instinctively when the fight-or-flight reflex arises.
Both during the day and at night, cockatiels prefer to sleep in a separate location. They spend the day searching for food as a flock before retiring to a peaceful, private place to sleep.
Getting as high as possible is essential while your cockatiel is resting, which may explain why your birds like to sleep upside down.
By being safe from predators on the ground, the cockatiels can unwind.
Instead of seeking alone at night, cockatiels typically sleep in their flock. Cockatiels may be lively and have fun around conspecifics since there is safety in numbers.
Consider putting your cockatiels in a small second cage at night if they like to sleep on their backs.
Superior Vantage Point
Cockatiels do not hunt live prey; their sense of smell and taste is limited. However, this drawback is compensated for with good vision, as cockatiels can see predators, food, and water from miles away.
In the wild, cockatiels take advantage of their excellent eyesight by finding the highest vantage points they can.
The uppermost point your domesticated cockatiel can reach is the ceiling of its cage. Your cockatiel can get a little higher within these confines by hanging upside down, where it’ll observe its empire from this angle.
Hanging upside down in a cage will give your cockatiel a slightly different perspective of its surroundings.
Cockatiels are incredibly playful creatures. If your bird loves to play, it is not uncommon to see them dangling from their perches. They might go from bar to bar or perch to perch, hanging upside as they land on each.
Most cockatiels do so to capture their owner’s attention, which usually works. Now that they have you, they want to play, so set aside a couple of minutes to spend with your pet bird.
Exploring Their Cage
If you have housed your cockatiel in a new cage, or something within the cage is modified, you might notice that it begins to hang upside down more often.
This could be a way for your cockatiel to express curiosity and enjoyment, as it gets to explore the cage and figure out the layout from all angles, including upside down.
Is It Safe For My Cockatiels To Hang Upside Down?
Just like climbing, hanging upside down possesses certain risks for our cockatiels. There is a risk of injury if your cockatiel is hanging upside down.
There are chances that your cockatiel might lose its grip while sleeping. If any such thing happens, your bird will directly land on the cage floor before it wakes up enough to flap its wings and break its bones.
However, thankfully, the chances of your cockatiel falling from the ceiling remain slim. Cockatiels have strong feet that wrap themselves solidly around cage bars.
I advise installing high-quality perches in your cockatiel’s cage to minimize the risk. You will see that your cockatiels will always look to get higher if there’s an opportunity, which could involve ignoring a perch and returning to hanging from the ceiling.
If you are a new cockatiel owner wondering if it’s normal for your bird to hang upside down in a cage, the answer is an unqualified yes.
If your pet cockatiel seems happy and healthy, there’s no need to discourage this behavior.
Can Cockatiels Spend Too Much Time Upside Down?
Studies suggest cockatiels are naturally more comfortable hanging upside down than sitting on their perch.
If your cockatiel is perfectly healthy and acts normal, eating and drinking, interacting with its other companion in a cage, and exercising outside its cage when given the opportunity, it’s not a problem.
You should only be concerned about your cockatiel’s desire to hang upside down if you never see it upright.
In these cases, look closer and ensure your cockatiel has not hurt its legs. Cockatiels do their best to hide injuries, so hanging upside down may disguise an inability to move freely.