What do Cockatiels Like To Play With?

Birds are quite inquisitive and smart. They like to interact with their humans and enjoy playing like any other furry friend you might have running around your home. Toys and playing in general is healthy for your bird, which we will explain later. First, let’s answer the question at hand. 

What do cockatiels like to play with?

In general, cockatiels enjoy a variety of toys such as wooden chew toys, mirrors, bells, foraging toys, swings, and perches. Rotating toys helps prevent boredom and provides mental/physical stimulation.

They like to play with toys, mirrors, and even people but it all depends on the cockatiel because, like humans, they have individual personalities. All cockatiels are not the same so we put together some tips and toy favorites in this article so you can choose the best options for your feathered companion. 

How Do You Entertain a Cockatiel?

In general, cockatiels can be entertained through toys, playtime outside the cage, social interaction, training, and out-of-cage activities. Offer a variety of toys, spend time interacting with them, teach them tricks, and provide a stimulating environment for their happiness and health.

There are a plethora of ways to delight your bird and you’ll learn what she likes the best if you try them all. We’ve broken them down into three categories. 

There are many ways to entertain a cockatiel and keep them mentally and physically stimulated. Some of the most effective methods include:

  1. Providing toys: Offer a variety of toys such as wooden chew toys, mirrors, bells, foraging toys, swings, and perches of different textures and sizes.
  2. Playtime outside of the cage: Allow your cockatiel to play outside of their cage regularly, but in a safe and secure environment.
  3. Social interaction: Spend time interacting with your cockatiel, such as talking to them, singing, and playing games.
  4. Training: Teach your cockatiel basic commands or tricks to engage their mind and strengthen the bond between you.
  5. Out-of-cage activities: Set up a play area for your cockatiel with toys and perches, or take them for a walk on a harness.

Living in a cage can get boring so you want to make sure your bird has enough to do when you aren’t there to liven things up for them. But you can’t just throw anything in their cage with hopes that your bird will enjoy playing with it. Some specific toys and devices should be available to your cockatiel at all times.

 What Do Cockatiels Like in Their Cage?

In general, cockatiels need a spacious cage with plenty of room to move and play. Provide perches of different sizes and textures, toys for stimulation, a food and water dish, and a nest box if breeding. Offer a balanced diet to keep your cockatiel healthy and happy.

Coincidentally, the items that are beneficial for a cockatiel to have in their cage and what they enjoy keeping in their home are on the same list. Food and water are necessities more than entertainment so we’ll just say those are a given. 

Cuttle Bones or Mineral Bones

This is the oval white bone that you see in bird cages or the avian section of the pet store. These bones are from the cuttlefish, which are kin to the octopi. When you put one in the cage you will find your cockatiel rubbing his beak against it, which is their way of grooming that part of their body. 

While the action looks like entertainment, the practice is beneficial to heir overall health of your friend. Without this practice, her beak could become overgrown and she will be denied some important minerals like calcium. If they don’t have this activity a bird can become malnourished. 


Everyone loves toys. From babies, kittens, puppies, adults, cats, dogs, horses, dolphins, you name it and odds are they enjoy some kind of plaything. Most species on this planet enjoy fun time and your cockatiel is no different. But what are the best toys to keep them entertained? They are broken down into the following categories. 

Shredding Toys

These toys can look like rolled-up balls of yarn or a messy grouping of strings and twine. You might look at it and think, “What could be fun about that?” Your cockatiel will fall in love with it because they like to shred. The name is perfect because that’s what they do and for good reason. It provides them with an avenue to keep their brains active.  

Wooden Swings

Are you able to refuse an open swing when going to your local park? I’m not and have been more than happy to jump on one as an adult. I don’t jump off for a landing anymore but that’s okay. The overall entertainment value is priceless and the same goes for your bird. A swing provides your cockatiel with an entertainment outlet that’s calming. 


When your cockatiel looks in the mirror he sees another bird. They don’t understand that it’s a reflection of themselves and they are quick to interact with the image. Our guy lives alone and he will spend hours singing and talking to his reflection in his little mirror. It provides endless entertainment for him and I enjoy listening to him while I sit at my computer and write. 

Wooden Toys

Toys made from wood are perfect for your cockatiel. They like to chew and wood is a natural material that they can pick away at without harming themselves. Don’t be surprised if your bird beats the heck out of that wooden toy. They like to play rough sometimes. 


Our little guy likes to fight his rings. He sits on his perch, grabs them with his beak, and hisses when they swing his way. This is another way he likes to spend a good deal of his time, which is perfect. It gets lonely in the cage and I want him to be happy. 

What Should I Watch Out For With Toys

Like babies, not all toys are suitable for your cockatiel. Thinking of them as a baby is the best approach when you think about it. They don’t know what they are putting into their mouths and, even though they are tiny themselves, we don’t want anything too small that they can choke on. 

Metal toys or any that have been painted are also something you should avoid putting in the cage. Both can be toxic to your bird so it’s always best to be safe rather than sorry. Just like the wooden toys we spoke about above, when choosing toys for your cockatiel we always recommend you get ones made from natural materials. 

What Are Cockatiels Favorite Toys?

All of the toys we mentioned above have a good shot at becoming your bird’s favorite toy. It is difficult to pinpoint one toy as a preferred method of entertainment for all cockatiels. Each bird has its likes and dislikes so this is going to specific to your particular bird. A good way to find out is to pay attention to the toys she likes to play with regularly. 

Our guy likes his rings and his mirror equally. He doesn’t swing anymore because he is old and suffers from arthritis but he is pretty active in other ways. If she shreds a lot then it might be a good idea to invest in some shredding toys. If she goes through a wooden toy a week then you know that’s her preference. 

Do Cockatiels Like Music?

Cockatiels don’t like music. THEY LOVE MUSIC! I have found our guy loves songs that include a lot of whistling or bird sounds. Two of his favorite songs are “Blackbird” by The Beatles and “Mockingbird” by Tom Waits. These songs get him singing and whistling along instantly. Everyone has their taste in music so try your favorite songs out on your bird and see where it goes. 

Rhythm is also something birds seem to like. Cockatiels love to dance too, which is good for them and you. You can put your friend on your finger or shoulder and bounce around the room to the beat. I can almost guarantee your feathered buddy will enjoy the bonding experience. But be careful not to shock them with sudden movements either. 

Perfect Cage

Don’t forget the Perfect Cage. That will allow you to have your cockatiel at the center of attention. As well as help keep the area around his cage clean.

Other Activities to Share with Your Cockatiel

One thing I like to do is use my smartphone to video our bird while he is smiling and singing and then I replay it back to him. He becomes instantly enthralled and sings back to himself. This practice is similar to the mirror but a little more interactive for you both.

The most important thing you need to remember is, once you form a bond with your cockatiel, her favorite toy will ultimately be you. They love to snuggle and cuddle with their humans and we all know how beneficial that is to their health and yours. 

Cockatiels are intelligent birds so, as their caretakers, it is important to make sure they have the mental stimulation they need to lead a healthy life. This can be done with a good selection of toys that keep them stimulated, entertained, and living their best life. 

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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