How Cold Affects Your Cockatiel’s Health – A Vet’s Guide

Cockatiels, with their vibrant personalities and melodic chirps, have become one of the most beloved pets worldwide. But, originating from the warm climates of Australia, these charming birds have specific needs when it comes to temperature. As the mercury drops, it’s crucial for every cockatiel owner to understand the potential risks and signs of a cold-stressed bird. But how exactly does cold weather impact your cockatiel’s well-being?

As a general rule, cold temperatures can cause a range of health issues in cockatiels such as hypothermia, respiratory infections, and reduced immunity. It’s essential to keep a close eye on your feathered friends, ensuring they stay warm and comfortable during chilly seasons.

Let’s explore the signs to watch out for, preventive measures, and how to ensure your feathered friend stays warm and healthy throughout the year.

Effects Of Cold on Cockatiels

Cockatiels, with their vibrant personalities and captivating chirps, are a joy to have around. But, like all pets, they have specific needs that must be met to ensure their well-being. One of the most pressing concerns for cockatiel owners, especially those in colder regions, is how the cold affects these delicate birds.

Short-term effects of cold exposure:

  • Drop in body temperature: Just like us, cockatiels experience a drop in body temperature when exposed to cold. This is a natural response, but prolonged exposure can lead to more severe health issues.
  • Reduced activity and vocalization: You might notice your usually active and chirpy cockatiel becoming more subdued during colder days. This is a sign that they’re conserving energy due to the cold.
  • Changes in appetite: Cold can affect a cockatiel’s appetite. They might eat more to generate energy and warmth or eat less due to reduced activity.

Long-term effects of cold exposure:

  • Potential illnesses like respiratory infections: Cold and damp conditions can lead to respiratory issues in cockatiels. If you notice any signs of distress or unusual behavior, it’s essential to consult with a vet immediately.
  • Stress-induced behaviors: Prolonged exposure to cold can lead to stress in cockatiels. This might manifest as aggressive behavior or even self-harming actions like feather plucking.
  • Impact on the lifespan: Just as with any living being, constant stress and health issues can reduce a cockatiel’s lifespan. Ensuring they’re warm and comfortable is not just about immediate comfort but long-term health.

Ideal Temperature for Cockatiels

Having originated from the warm terrains of Australia, cockatiels are biologically primed for hotter climates. This doesn’t mean they can’t thrive in colder regions, but it does mean we need to be more attentive to their needs during the colder months.

The ideal temperature range for cockatiels: 

Cockatiels thrive best in a controlled environment where the temperature hovers between 70 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. In Celsius, this translates to a comfortable range of 21 to 23 degrees. Maintaining this temperature ensures their well-being and optimal health.

How to Recognize if Your Cockatiel is Unwell Due to Cold Exposure?

When it comes to our feathered friends, especially cockatiels, understanding their body language and behavior is crucial. It’s how they communicate with us. As someone who’s been around these birds for years, I’ve seen firsthand how they react to various environmental changes. Cold is one such factor that can significantly affect them. 

Here’s what you should look out for:

  • Feather Fluffing: Birds fluff their feathers for various reasons, including relaxation and sleep. However, if your cockatiel keeps its feathers continuously fluffed throughout the day, it’s a clear sign they are cold or unwell.
  • Closed Eyes: A cockatiel with wide-open eyes is a sign of good health. If they have half-closed eyes when awake, it’s an indication they might be feeling cold or ill.
  • Excessive Sleep: Just like us, if a cockatiel is sleeping too much, it could be a sign of poor health or discomfort due to the surrounding environment.
  • Discharge: If you notice wetness or discharge around your cockatiel’s nose followed by constant regurgitation of their food, it’s a cause for concern. While this can sometimes be a sign of courtship, excessive behavior in this regard should be checked with a vet.
  • Ragged & Poorly Preened Feathers: A cockatiel that starts neglecting its grooming is likely feeling unwell. They love to look their best, so if they’re not preening, something’s up.
  • Sneezing: Occasional sneezing is normal. However, if your bird is sneezing excessively, it’s a clear warning sign of potential illness.
  • Weight Loss: Regularly monitoring your cockatiel’s weight is essential. Rapid weight loss can be fatal, especially since smaller birds like cockatiels don’t have the fat reserves of larger birds.

How to Keep Your Cockatiel Warm?

Ensuring your cockatiel’s warmth during colder months is not just about their comfort but also about their overall health. Here are some steps you can take:

  • Draft-Free Location: Always ensure the cage is placed in a draft-free room. This simple step can make a significant difference in maintaining a consistent temperature for your cockatiel.
  • Warming Nests: Consider investing in insulated nests. These nests provide a cozy and warm environment, especially during the night when temperatures can drop significantly.
  • Covering the Cage: A cage cover can act as an insulator, trapping warmth inside. Ensure the cover is breathable to prevent any condensation.
  • Air Humidifiers: Dry air can be as harmful as cold air. Using an air humidifier can help maintain a comfortable humidity level, ensuring your cockatiel’s respiratory system remains healthy.
  • Heaters: There are various heaters designed specifically for bird cages. These heaters provide gentle warmth, ensuring your cockatiel remains comfortable without overheating.
  • Monitoring Your Cockatiel: Always be vigilant. If you notice any signs of discomfort, like feather fluffing or reduced activity, it might be an indication that your cockatiel is feeling cold. Take immediate action to rectify the situation.
  • Diet adjustments during colder months: During colder months, your cockatiel might require a slightly different diet. Foods that provide more energy can help them combat the cold. Consult with your vet for specific dietary recommendations.
  • Importance of regular vet check-ups in cold seasons: Cold weather can exacerbate existing health issues or even introduce new ones. Regular vet check-ups can help catch any potential problems early, ensuring your cockatiel remains healthy.

Can Cockatiels Die from Cold?

As a whole Cockatiels are susceptible to cold temperatures. Originating from Australia, they thrive in warm environments. Exposure to cold can lead to hypothermia and respiratory problems. Maintaining a warm habitat is essential for their well-being.

I remember a heart-wrenching incident where a cockatiel was left in an unheated room during a particularly cold winter night. By morning, the bird was lethargic and showed signs of distress. Despite our best efforts, the bird couldn’t be revived. This tragic event serves as a stark reminder of the dangers of exposing cockatiels to cold temperatures.

To prevent such unfortunate incidents, it’s crucial to monitor the environment of your cockatiel, especially during colder months. Ensure they have a warm, draft-free space, and consider investing in cage heaters or warming nests to provide them with the warmth they need.


Understanding and catering to the needs of your cockatiels, especially when it comes to temperature, is paramount.  It’s not just about their comfort; it’s about their health. I’ve always been passionate about ensuring every cockatiel under my care is warm, safe, and happy. Why? Because these little creatures bring so much joy and vibrancy to our lives, and they deserve the best.

I’d love to hear about your experiences and any tips you might have picked up along the way. Drop your thoughts in the comments below, and if you found this guide helpful, please share it with other bird enthusiasts. Together, we can make a difference in the lives of these wonderful birds.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can you tell if your cockatiel is cold? 

Cockatiels have specific behaviors that indicate discomfort due to cold. They might fluff their feathers, close their eyes more often, or even show signs like excessive sneezing. Monitoring their behavior and physical signs like wetness around the nose can give you clues.

How do I keep my cockatiel warm during power outages? 

During power outages, it’s essential to move your cockatiel to the warmest part of your home. Using warm blankets to cover their cage can help retain heat. If possible, consider battery-operated heaters or even moving them temporarily to a warmer location.

Is it okay for cockatiels to be outside in the cold? 

While cockatiels can handle short durations in cooler temperatures, prolonged exposure can be harmful. If you need to take them outside, ensure it’s for a brief period and monitor them closely for any signs of discomfort.

Do they get cold at night? 

Nights tend to be cooler, and yes, cockatiels can get cold. It’s crucial to ensure their cage is in a warm spot, away from drafts, especially during the night.

Mohsin Iqbal

Dr. Mohsin Iqbal, a licensed veterinarian holding a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from The Islamia University of Bahawalpur, is a respected member of the Pakistan Veterinary Medical Association and a well-established figure in the world of animal advocacy. His professional experiences are diverse, including working in various settings like private practices such as My Pet’s Clinic, public institutions like Civil Veterinary Hospital, shelters, rescues, and the Bahawalpur Zoo. Treating a wide range of animals, from common pets to exotic species, has enriched his expertise in numerous facets of pet care, including nutrition, exercise, behavior, training, and preventative care—an area he is particularly passionate about. As an ardent proponent of preventative care, Dr. Iqbal's writing focuses on the importance of vaccinations, routine check-ups, and early health problem detection. His dedication to educating others steered him toward a successful career. Over the past two years, his insightful pieces have been published in national and international magazines and featured regularly on online pet care platforms. Beyond his professional life, Dr. Iqbal is the president of the Animal Rescue Organization Pakistan, demonstrating his commitment to animal welfare through the rescue and rehabilitation of animals in need. His belief in the power of knowledge shines through his engaging content, empowering pet owners to nurture a deep, enduring bond with their animal companions. We are delighted to welcome Dr. Mohsin Iqbal to our team of content writers, eagerly anticipating his contributions that will foster a well-informed pet-owning community.

Recent Posts