how To Tell If A Cockatiel Is Sick

Cockatiels are one of the most quality birds you will ever see. They are friendly, adaptive, clever, social, playful, and whatnot. But birds are sensitive and these cockatiels can catch many diseases if they are not looked after well. They are vulnerable to even some life-threatening diseases, so if you have them at home or planning to have them, you need to pay special attention and monitoring.

Today I will help you to detect the sickness of your cockatiel, their diseases, and prevention and diagnosis of them. But at the very first, you have to know how your little pet bird can get sick and what are the things that may cause this sickness. So hop in and let’s start our journey toward finding the answer to the question of how to tell if a cockatiel is sick. 

Causation Of Sickness 

how to tell if my cockatiel is sick

Before I summarize all the causes for you, please remember that it is not a must for these things to surely cause a disease. These have a higher rate of causing disease but the rate isn’t 100%. So, the things or facts that may cause sickness in your cockatiel are:

  • Overfeeding: This is the most common reason in most cases I have seen so far. It is not forbidden to love your cockatiel but feeding all the time isn’t an appropriate way to show love. Feeding more than the daily requirement can cause obesity. Obesity comes with many negative features, which include clumsiness, tiredness, anorexia( loss of appetite), etc. This is just a primary form of sickness that can cause many fatal diseases in the future if not treated well in time.
  • Underfeeding: Maintaining the perfect balance in the amount of feeding is necessary for the health of your cockatiel. As overfeeding causes obesity, underfeeding can cause malnutrition and if not taken care of, it will turn into severe malnutrition with other associated diseases. You will be able to see the skeleton of your bird clearly over the skin if your cockatiel is suffering from malnutrition. So you need to provide a balanced diet with a proper plan and feed your cockatiel in an appropriate amount and manner so it can overcome this condition.
  • Microorganisms: Bacteria, viruses, and parasites can also cause many acute and chronic diseases. They can easily be transmitted into your cockatiel if you fail to follow proper cleanliness and hygiene. A bacteria named Chlamydophila psittaci can cause ‘Psittacosis,’ a disease of lung infection and respiratory distress. A virus named ‘Avian polyomavirus’ is so fatal that it can cause the death of your cockatiel within less than a month. A parasite named ‘Giardia’ can cause diarrhea and anorexia in your cockatiel. These microorganisms are enough to make a cockatiel sick and if not treated, even die.
  • Bad water: The water you provide to your cockatiel must not contain any harmful substances. Sometimes tap water contains infectious organisms that may cause the cockatiel to be sick. The supply of bad water can cause diarrhea and other associated diseases.
  • Toxic food materials: Some food materials are toxic to the health of your cockatiel, and you must avoid these items while planning a balanced diet. Such foods include : 
    • Chocolate.
    • Caffeinated Food.
    • Apple Seeds.
    • Salty Food.
    • Mushrooms.
  • The environment of the cage: The cage needs to be cleaned on a regular basis. If the environment is nasty, your cockatiel may become depressed and suffer from psychological distress, which can eventually create tiredness, slothfulness, and deprivation of sleep. It is also necessary to provide proper light and air ventilation. Keeping a cockatiel 24/7 in a dark environment will also cause depression. These types of mental illnesses can easily cause the death of your pet bird eventually.

Now that we’ve discussed the causation of the sickness of your cockatiel, we can finally move on to our main subject of how to tell if your cockatiel is sick.

Signs & Symptoms Of A Sick Cockatiel

A sick bird shows many signs and symptoms for anyone to recognize its ill health. There could be different types of signs. Some signs are superficial and some are systemic defects. Identifying the variety and severity of disease, these are very important. 


There are some signs that you can detect with the naked eye. These are the superficial ones and you can understand the sickness of your cockatiel just by looking at it. Some of such signs & symptoms are,

  • Your bird may look fatigued most of the time and the wings/feathers can become ratty.
  • Sometimes, the feathers can become over-fluffy.
  • Eyes can be closed of the time.
  • Eyes can become extremely red or cloudy looking.
  • There can be a good amount of discharge from the eyes, sometimes followed by swelling.
  • Abnormal beak shape.
  • Abnormal feathers and nails.
  • Swelling on any area of the body part.
  • Severe weight loss may occur, so the bird may look slim.
  • Bleeding from joints or feathers.
  • Abnormal cuts or bruises.
  • Bobbing tail while it’s breathing.

Behavioral Change

There could be some negative changes in the behavior of your cockatiel and these might indicate its ill health. Some of the most common behavioral changes of a cockatiel being sick are:

  • Increased inactivity and slothfulness.
  • An increased amount of daily sleep.
  • Change in eating habits and time.
  • Change in amount of drinking water.
  • Shows a typical taming behavior.
  • Anoxia (losing appetite) occurs.
  • Agitation and biting habit develops.
  • Development of lethargy.
  • Depression occurs.

Any of these signs and symptoms can be a cause of any kind of illness. If your cockatiel is showing any of these changes, you should take some necessary actions or take it to a vet.

Systemic Distress

Some signs and symptoms are not superficial and you can not see the origin with the naked eye. But the result can be detected easily. These are systemic or internal errors that also indicate a serious illness of a cockatiel. Some of these signs & symptoms are,

  • Excessive sneezing.
  • Excessive coughing.
  • Changes in voice or loss of voice.
  • Paralysis (only occurs in serious malfunctions).
  • Nasal discharge or blocked nostrils.
  • Breathing with mouth wide open.
  • Fainting and unconsciousness.
  • Losing balance on your finger.
  • Vomiting more than a couple of times.
  • Blood coming out of any openings (mouth, nasal, fecal, etc.).

Inspection of Stool & Urine

You can understand the sickness of your cockatiel by inspecting its stool and urine. There are many diseases that affect the defecation and urinary process of a bird and if you examine the wastes, you might understand the variety of diseases it has. Some facts regarding this matter are:

  • Wet droppings or watery feces, simply diarrhea.
  • Detection of voluntary straining while dripping.
  • Decreased amount of dripping.
  • Change of the color of stool (red indicates blood).
  • Imbalance of the amount of eating and defecation.

Other Symptoms

Other than these identical signs and symptoms, your cockatiel may have some uncommon abnormality. Treats are really enjoyable among all the pet birds available. If your cockatiel is sick, it can reject the treats you offer. Sometimes, it can fly around the cage becoming perplexed. It may not respond to any of your commands. Altogether, it can become absolutely lethargic to do anything the whole day at all. So, if you feel your cockatiel is looking sick or showing signs, you need to hurry to a nearby veterinarian to ensure it’s not too late.

how to know if cockatiel is sick

Doings If A Cockatiel Is Sick

If you think your cockatiel is sick and you don’t have any idea of the variety or severity of the disease, it is recommended not to waste any more time and quickly visit a veterinarian. The vet may prescribe some medicine if necessary or even want to undergo a surgical operation. Depending on the severity, you need to understand the situation and do what’s best for your cockatiel.

If your vet is a professional, I will recommend you to trust him and do what he advises. You need to be very punctual in providing medicine and ensure your cockatiel is getting fresh food and water and the cage is completely cleaned and hygienic. If your cockatiel is suffering from mental paranoia or depression, you need to change the environment around the cage. Make sure your cockatiel gets everything to be healthy and happy. Both physical and mental fitness is necessary for a cockatiel to live its life to the fullest.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is my cockatiel sitting on the bottom of the cage?

If your cockatiel is sitting right on the bottom of the cage, it means it’s lethargic, tired, perplexed, or depressed. This can occur if the environment of the cage is not neat and clean and non-hygienic or due to any kind of disease. Sick cockatiels show this symptom mostly. If your cockatiel is sitting on the bottom of the cage for most of the time and you can’t find out the reason, I will recommend you to go and visit a vet.

Does a cockatiel like the dark?

Not at all. Cockatiels hate the dark since they are frightened of darkness. One night in complete darkness can cause a heart attack for your cockatiel if it sees anything sudden. It is best to provide a dim light when they sleep. You can cover the cage depending on its reaction or response to that but keeping it in a completely dark room for a long time will be foolish.

Why is my cockatiel shaking after a bath?

Cockatiels, like most other birds, shake right after a bath, especially when their body is wet. This is their natural process of shedding water and drying themselves up. So if you see them shivering or shaking, there is no reason to get worried rather, it is a healthy practice. 

Do cockatiels get sick easily?

Cockatiels are sensitive birds and if the situation is not in their favor, they can get easily sick. They are especially vulnerable to microorganisms like bacteria, viruses, parasites, etc. Proper maintenance of cleanliness and hygiene is mandatory to keep a cockatiel healthy. Also, little exposure to light for a long time can cause mental illnesses like depression. 

How to give home remedies to my sick cockatiel?

If you have visited a vet already, you should provide all the medications as suggested regularly. If you can’t visit a vet for any reason, you can do some primary healthcare to minimize the disease effect. Firstly, you need to separate the sick cockatiel from other birds if you have any.

You need to keep the pet bird warm and make sure it gets proper food and water. If there is any bleeding, you can wrap a small piece of bandage or cloth around the wound. If you think your cockatiel is suffering from depression or lethargy, you can change the room where you keep it and give it adequate light. Equitable providence is necessary to manage a sick cockatiel. If its condition gets worse, try to contact a vet asap.


Cockatiel to me is like a best friend. Nobody wants to treat their best friends with poor supplies and care. I always make sure my cockatiel gets the best things available. I try to monitor its daily food intake and its behavior. If your cockatiel shows any kind of signs or symptoms of sickness, you need to take action immediately. But there is a saying that prevention is better than cure. Try to prevent the disease before it occurs.

If you fail unfortunately to prevent the sickness, early diagnosis and treatment are suggested. Since a cockatiel is really sensitive and vulnerable, a little negligence can even cause death. It is also a good practice to keep primary medicines always with you for prophylaxis. After remembering all of these facts, you can hope to ensure the good health of your cockatiel and as well as keep your best friend happy and cheerful around you.

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