Can a Cockatiel Whistle?

Some birds are vocal, and species who don’t like to say much. If you are considering a pet cockatiel, you might be wondering, can a cockatiel whistle? Below we have an answer for you and other fun tricks that you can teach your bird. 

Cockatiels can whistle, and they love to make this and other sounds. Whistling is a good sign that your bird is happy. Not every whistle a cockatiel makes sounds the same, and they are quick learners and love to mimic their humans. 

Cockatiels make so many different sounds that it may seem overwhelming at first, but soon you will know what each of those sounds means. 

It’s difficult to find anyone on Earth better at whistling than a cockatiel. When he hears music he likes, our tiny guy whistles when he hears one of us whistle first. 

When your bird whistles, it will mean that their happy most of the time. There may be an instance where your cockatiel sends out a shrill whistle to get your attention. If you hear a whistle that sounds like shrieking, you should check on your friend immediately and see what’s up. 

How do I get my cockatiel to whistle?

Teaching a cockatiel to whistle requires love, repetition, and rewards. Positive reinforcement is a great tool when training cockatiels on complicated anything. There are only a few steps to whistle training, which we’ve listed below. 

Step 1: Take your bird out of his cage and have healthy treats aside. Whistle to your bird and keep it simple at first. Once they learn one whistle to mimic, you can work on another using these same steps. 

Step 2: Continue with the same whistle until your bird repeats it back to you. Patience and repetition are required. You have to continue this process until you get the results you want. 

Step 3: When your bird does repeat the whistle back to you, be sure to give him a treat right away. For the first few times your bird whistles, you should provide a treat. 

Step 4: Schedule a few regular training sessions until whistling becomes natural. Training sessions shouldn’t last longer than fifteen minutes if you are giving treats. Cockatiel stomachs are small and can only hold so much food. 

Teaching your cockatiel shouldn’t be difficult or take very long. These little birds love to whistle. Don’t be surprised if they start before you had a chance to teach them. 

Why do cockatiels whistle?

Male cockatiels whistle to attract a mate, which is why they tend to whistle more than females. Females do whistle but not as often as the males. Whistling typically means your cockatiel is happy. They like to whistle along with some types of music. 

Cockatiels love to whistle. They do it when they look in the mirror, hear other birds call on tv or the radio, or attend to a song they like. They also want to whistle to connect with us, their humans. If you can whistle back, it’s an excellent opportunity to have a conversation on their terms. 

Whistling is a sound that you and your bird can create together, so you should spend some time teaching them the steps we listed above. While we believe all cockatiels love to whistle, it is best to teach them any new tricks when they are young. Older birds can learn to whistle, but it may take longer. 

What does a cockatiel’s screeching sound mean?

Most of the time, when your cockatiel screeches, it means that they want your attention, are hurt, or in trouble. Other reasons why your cockatiel might be screeching include the following.

  • Fear
  • Loneliness
  • Lack of nutrition
  • Boredom
  • Flock calling
  • Lack of sleep
  • Other noises bother them

When your cockatiel starts screeching, it’s crucial to check on them, but you should avoid rewarding them in any way for that sound. As we mentioned earlier, positive reinforcement is a powerful tool when training a cockatiel. Let’s create a scenario.

You cockatiel screeches to get your attention. You run to the cage and take your bird out. You pet your bird and say, “you’re pretty.” Maybe you give her a treat because you’re so glad she isn’t hurt. What do you suppose that taught your bird? 

She learned that screeching would get her attention, snuggles, and a treat. Do you think she’ll do it again? Sure she will. That’s how it works. So, if you don’t want screeching to become a habit, which we advise, then what you do is the following. 

When your cockatiel screeches, check-in with her. Make sure she isn’t hurt or in trouble, but once you know she’s okay, leave her be. You can always take her out in ten minutes, as long as she doesn’t screech again. 

The key is to not instantly reward her with attention or any other positive reinforcement after she screeches. Ten minutes later, you can take her out and give her attention if you fear she’s lonely. 

But wait until enough time has passed, so they don’t make the connection between screeching to the attention. Otherwise, you will have a bird who screams a lot and, trust us; this can be jarring at times. 

Odd noises a cockatiel makes and why?

Cockatiels make several standard noises that mean different things. Cockatiels screech when they are afraid or need something, they whistle and talk when they are happy, and they hiss when they are angry. The vocabulary of a cockatiel is distinct, so we’ve listed the typical sounds they make and what they mean. 

The vocabulary of a cockatiel.

  • Whistle: As we’ve said many times in this piece, cockatiels love to whistle, which is why they do it so often. It can mean that they are happy, enjoying music, mimicking a whistle that they heard, or trying to get your attention. 
  • Screech: Cockatiels can scream. If you aren’t expecting it, the sound can send you through the roof. They do this when they are afraid, bored, lonely, hear others talking, or want to get your attention. It may also mean they lack nutrition, so you should consult your avian vet to feed them properly if this is the case. 
  • Singing: If you listen to music with your cockatiel around, it won’t take long before you hear them sing, whistle, or make sounds that coincide with the songs. They do this to connect with us and become a part of our “flock” or when they are happy. 
  • ChitChat: This sound isn’t whistling, it isn’t screaming, but it sounds a great deal like talking. Caged birds need companionship, and they LOVE to have conversations. They also like to mimic the sounds they hear around them, which is human chatter. 
  • Hissing: When a cockatiel hisses, it means they feel threatened or angry. It could also indicate fear. 
  • Chirping: Birds chirp when they feel inquisitive or when they hear other birds. 
  • Human Words: Cockatiels can learn words like “hello” and “pretty bird” with the exact tactics we gave you above for teaching them how to whistle. Just remember, any comment you teach a cockatiel will stay in their vocabulary until they are gone. Teaching them to cuss words can damage their ability to be rehomed if that ever needed to happen. 

Cockatiels are intelligent birds who can learn tons of tricks like talking or even playing peek-a-boo. The best part about the training is you get to spend time with your cockatiel, and you both will better off for it in the long run. 

Rick Matthews

Hello, I am Rick Matthews, I have helped raise 100's of pets in my life living with my Father who while we did not live on a farm, raised all sorts of animals to sell them to families. We had so many different pets we all quickly became experts intending to them and helping them stay healthy. Back then we did not have the internet to look up thing on how to take care of their kids. As my kids got older, they wanted pets and of course, I did not want to have as many as we did when I was a child, but wanted to share my experiences. Many of these articles are written to help educate families on what to expect when looking to get a new pet for their children.

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