Why is My Cockatiel Shaking? (8 Reasons)

Last Updated on October 2, 2023 by Ali Shahid

Cockatiels make wonderful pets, yet at times, they showcase behaviors that might appear perplexing and intriguing to us humans. One such instance of unusual behavior you might observe in your cockatiel is shaking. Many people wonder: Why is my cockatiel shaking?

You may observe your cockatiel shaking for a variety of reasons, most frequently due to typical bird behavior. It might signify excitement, an attempt to unwind, or a response to feeling chilly. Yet, it is prudent to also be attentive to any indications of illness or stress before undue concern sets in.

In case lingering concerns persist, consulting a veterinarian is a wise step to comprehend the situation more comprehensively. Ensuring your bird’s well-being and contentment is of paramount importance.

Now, let’s delve into four potential explanations for why your cockatiel could be displaying this shaking behavior.

Why is My Cockatiel Shaking

8 Reasons Why Your Cockatiel is Shaking

1. Stress or Fear

Your pet cockatiel’s ancestry links back to species that were prey for larger animals in the wild. This inherent fear still resides in your domesticated bird, which can react with shaking even to seemingly harmless events like objects dropping nearby or sudden shifts in light and shadows. 

After a perceived threat subsides, your cockatiel might fluff up and shake slightly. This post-threat shaking is common among various bird species, perhaps a way to physically dispel the fear.

Stressors are varied and can agitate your cockatiel. They flourish in consistent environments, so alterations like changing their cage’s location or losing a favorite toy can cause agitation. Even the sound of a new pet dog barking can send them into a frenzy. Pacing combined with shaking could indicate heightened stress.

2. Tiredness

Shaking doesn’t always warrant alarm, as birds sometimes shake to alleviate stress and unwind. It’s common for your pet cockatiel to fluff its feathers and give a few shakes before bedtime. This routine is part of their process to prepare for sleep, and you’ll notice them dozing off shortly thereafter.

3. Cold Sensation

Comfort for your cockatiel involves maintaining a suitable room temperature. Keeping the environment around 65 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit is advisable, avoiding sudden temperature drops that cockatiels aren’t accustomed to. 

Shaking might occur after a bath, as some people have noted. This is usual behavior and nothing to be concerned about.

When bathing your cockatiel, choose daytime over nighttime for drying in warmer air. If needed, a space heater can be introduced to the room while monitoring the temperature. 

To prevent drafts, avoid positioning the cage in drafty areas and implement gradual temperature changes, as abrupt changes can stress cockatiels. If your bird seems cold, gradually raise the temperature to avoid shock or illness.

Note this especially if you reside in colder regions. If the cage is near a window, ensure no drafts enter. While cockatiels appreciate sunlight, consider relocating the cage to a warmer room until the weather turns milder.

4. Feeling Unwell

Shaking can indeed be a red flag for illness. If you observe your cockatiel shaking, experiencing balance issues, or remaining at the cage bottom excessively, it’s imperative to promptly consult a veterinarian. The behavior might be linked to infections or respiratory problems, warranting professional attention.

An indication of illness might be constant feather fluffing, regardless of the room temperature. Look out for other symptoms such as disheveled feathers, reduced appetite or water intake, wheezing sounds, and unusual behavior. You understand your bird’s demeanor best, so if the shaking aligns with out-of-character actions, a vet visit is advised.

5. Relaxation

Shaking isn’t always indicative of a problem; it’s commonly inherent to normal bird behavior. If you notice your cockatiel shaking, it could simply be attempting to unwind. Many cockatiels partake in a shaking routine before sleep, which aids in stress relief and nervousness calming, contributing to relaxation.

If you witness your cockatiel shaking and then shortly thereafter falling asleep, there’s usually no cause for concern. On the flip side, heightened excitement might also lead to shaking, particularly during engaging activities. Such behaviors, when attributed to play, aren’t worrisome.

6. Grooming

Shaking is a customary facet of cockatiels’ grooming habits. While grooming, they often ruffle feathers, subsequently fluffing them up to dry post-bath. Shaking during grooming serves to dislodge dirt or food particles that might be caught in their plumage. 

Alongside shaking, you may observe them using their beaks to clean each feather individually. This process typically concludes within a few minutes, and if there are no additional stress signs, it’s considered a regular grooming activity.

7. About to Sleep

As previously mentioned, shaking is an integral aspect of a cockatiel’s pre-sleep routine. As bedtime approaches, you’ll often witness your cockatiel fluffing its feathers and undergoing slight shaking.

This activity serves to soothe their nerves, dispelling any accumulated stress or apprehension from the day. This routine contributes to their relaxation, preparing them for a good night’s rest.

8. Reacting to Sounds

At times, when you engage in conversation with your cockatiel or play music within the room, you might observe the bird shaking its head.

This reaction likely stems from the sound or music it’s exposed to. To confirm this correlation, monitor whether the shaking subsides when the sound ceases.

Assessing the accompanying body language can help determine whether the shake is a positive or negative response. 

If the cockatiel continues to chirp, displays excitement, or initiates dancing, it generally enjoys the sound. Conversely, agitation and noise could indicate discomfort or dislike towards the sound.

Why is my Cockatiel Shaking and Closing Eyes?

If your cockatiel shakes and closes its eyes simultaneously, it is often an indication that the bird is ill. Cockatiels may do this when they’re sick, tired, or fatigued. Birds commonly mask their symptoms when unwell, making it crucial for pet owners to be vigilant for any deviations from normal behavior.

The underlying reason for this behavior stems from their wild instincts. In the wild, showing signs of weakness could attract predators, so birds tend to hide their discomfort.

However, if your cockatiel is indeed sick, you will likely observe other symptoms such as staying at the bottom of the cage, reduced eating, lack of responsiveness, and so on.

In such a scenario, seeking prompt medical attention for your bird is recommended. This will ensure that any potential health concerns are addressed by a professional.

Why Is My Cockatiel Puffed Up and Shaking?

Birds, including cockatiels, have a unique way of generating body heat by puffing up their wings. Your cockatiel will likely shiver and fluff up its wings if it is experiencing cold temperatures. This behavior is also incorporated into the bedtime routine of the young cockatiels.

As cockatiels prepare to wind down for sleep, they often engage in a bit of shaking to alleviate stress and promote relaxation. This calming ritual aids in facilitating peaceful sleep.

Furthermore, you might notice your cockatiel resorting to this behavior shortly after encountering a stressor or threat. In such instances, the shaking and puffing of wings serve as a means to calm down and recover from the encountered stress.

Overall, these behaviors are innate adaptations that cockatiels employ to regulate their body temperature, unwind, and manage stress.

What Do I Do if My Cockatiel Is Shaking?

As a bird owner, distinguishing between worrisome behaviors and normal reactions is essential. Shaking is one such behavior that might cause concern, but it is often a routine response. When you notice your bird shaking, your immediate response should be informed by the underlying cause.

Cold Sensation: If your bird is shaking due to cold, adjust the room temperature to provide warmth. After a bath, ensure a quick drying process to prevent cold discomfort. Opt for daytime baths over nighttime ones. Consider a heated perch to maintain consistent coziness for your cockatiel.

Illness or Seizures: If consistent shaking accompanies sickness, seek medical assistance, as it could indicate a seizure. A veterinarian’s evaluation is crucial for diagnosing and treating underlying health issues.

Stress Trigger: Shaking brought on by stress requires addressing the root cause. Offer reassurance and safety to your cockatiel through soothing talk. Manage and minimize stressors in the bird’s environment to maintain its comfort and security.

Bedtime Routine: Shaking before bedtime is a common practice for cockatiels. It aids in relieving stress and preparing for sleep. Such shaking usually subsides, allowing the bird to rest peacefully.

Communication: Shaking can also be a method of communication between birds and their human companions. Through consistent observation of your bird’s daily actions and unique behaviors, you can decipher its body language in various situations.


Cockatiels and various other bird types have small habits that might appear concerning or strange to humans, but these behaviors are perfectly normal for birds. If your pet isn’t showing any other unusual or worrying signs, the shaking it does is usually harmless.

However, if you are unsure, it is a good idea to reach out to your bird vet. I think that having peace of mind is valuable, so don’t hesitate to make that call.

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