Birds are wonderful pets for a slew of reasons but many people have their hearts set on a feathered companion that can talk, or at least repeat human languages. Since you are reading this article it’s safe to assume you are curious about these lovely birds. While cockatiels make great first pets, people sometimes have their hearts set on a bird that talks.
Can cockatiels talk? Yes, cockatiels can talk. They can learn some words with repetitive training techniques. Unlike other parrots with a larger vocabulary, a cockatiel has a limited vocabulary and can only be trained to say a few phrases such as hello or pretty bird for example, and have a vocabulary of around 20 words
How Large is a Cockatiel’s Vocabulary?
The talking abilities of a cockatiel are not the same as other, more chatty birds like a parrot. When trained correctly they can repeat single words or simple phrases. Try to stick to single-syllable words in the beginning like, “Hi” before moving onto more difficult lines like, “Good birdy.”
Females are not as willing to have conversations as their male counterparts but there is always an exception to the rule so if you have a girl already, there is no reason why you can’t try. Repetition is the only way to make this happen. When your bird learns one word you can move on to the next.
Can a Cockatiel Whistle?
The answer to that question is, “Can they ever!” Cockatiels are wonderful whistling partners and they can imitate anything you throw at them. Just like talking, if you repeat the same whistle sequent to them they will whistle it back without hesitation. But cockatiels don’t only love to whistle back and forth with you, they enjoy whistling along with some of your favorite songs.
Can a Cockatiel Sing
When cleaning day rolls around I slap on our favorite playlist and my little guy and I sing and dance around all day. He doesn’t help with the windows or the floors but he keeps me smiling as the chores are checked off my list. The range of whistles you will hear when their favorite song comes on I promise you will be delighted.
Another place your cockatiel will likely sing is in the shower. You can put your bird right in the shower or you can just place them on a perch while the door is closed and the steam fills the room. Our guy can’t stop singing when in the shower.
Can a Cockatiel Dance
Yes, they can. Cockatiels have a natural rhythm and love to sway back and forth with the music. You can put on a bass-heavy track and get your little guy to sit on your finger while you both bop your heads to the beat. If you like, you can even bounce your hand up and down to get it started. Be sure to go easy at first. You don’t want to startle your pal but just let them feel the rhythm.
Body Motions and Signs
When your cockatiel isn’t dancing you might notice some other movements, gestures, or behaviors. Here are some of the typical things you might see a cockatiel do.
Tilt Their Head
This is their attempt to see over their head and under their beak.
Closes Eyes and Bends Head Down
When you see this it could be an indication that your bird wants a bit of cuddling. Ours likes his head to be brought up to my chin. Then he lets me rub his head and back, which I do gently. This is typically a sign that they want their head scratched as well.
Stands Tall with Top Feather at Attention
This is a look you will quickly learn to know. Your cockatiel will do this when they are startled or shocked, which will happen often and is quite normal.
Taps Beak On Surface
One day I wondered whether we had a woodpecker or a cockatiel because our little guy wouldn’t stop banging his beak against his water dish. He does it once in a while and it’s their way of claiming their territory. Our guy lives alone but didn’t always. Males tend to do this more than females.
Sit and Be Puffy
One moment your bird will be sleek and shiny, you look away and come back and that feathered beauty is puffed up to twice his size. This is normal in some instances and others, it could be a sign of danger. There are five reasons why a cockatiel might puff up.
Native to Australia, cockatiels like to be warm. When they aren’t they puff up. You will see them do this at night when their blood temperature lowers.
When a cockatiel puffs and then shakes it is their attempt to unwind.
If your little buddy feels threatened it would be normal for her to puff up in an attempt to double her size.
If the puffiness you are witnessing comes paired with an exorbitant amount of sleeping, droopiness of the head, tail, or wings, over plucking, weight loss, less eating, and/or runny stools then it’s time to give your avian vet a call.
Other Cockatiel Sounds You Can Expect
Cockatiels are chatty little friends when they want to be and, once you know what sounds they make and what each utterance means, you’ll have fun conversations with your bird.
Sounds You Can Expect From a Cockatiel
When your cockatiel is upset, feels threatened, or wants to be left alone don’t be surprised if she hisses at you. This is their way of letting you know that they are not happy with your behavior. This is a great place to start because bonding with birds can take some time so it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with this sound so you know when your little one is upset.
Even if grinding a beak isn’t technically talking, it is an indication of mood, which makes it just as important. When your cockatiel starts to grind his beak it is a clear indication that they are happy and content, which is what we want! It may also be a hint that they are feeling sleepy.
Cockatiels like to say hello and good-bye. I can hear our little guy chirping away when I come walking up the front steps. He knows that I’m coming home and is letting me know that he’s excited to see me. This type of chirping, which could be one or a series of sounds, that are meant to say, “Hello” or “Goodbye.”
This chirp is not the sweet little “hello” you might expect. When your cockatiel wants to get your attention she will chirp loud. It may be once, it may be a series of chirps. But they will be sharp to your ear and get your ears up and away from whatever you were doing.
Your little friend will do this when they want something like food, water, or a little companionship. She also might chirp loudly when they are ready for bed.
The Scream Whistle
When you hear it you will know exactly what this sound is. It’s meant to get our attention and they do this when they are excited and scared. So it’s up to you to pay special attention to the sounds you hear coming from our bird so that you can get to know what each sound indicates. The easiest way to identify your friend’s emotions is by observing their body language.
Cockatiels love to talk even though it’s primarily their little language. When you get to know the sounds and movements that are typical you’ll both develop your little language to communicate with each other.