My friend and I were discussing the differences between our pet birds the other day, as we own quite different species.
I have two cockatiels, and he has an African grey.
One thing he’s always loved about his African grey is that it’s quite affectionate and always willing to come over for pets and scratches.
He asked me if my cockatiels were affectionate, as he’d often heard that cockatiels weren’t, so I decided to look into it beyond my own pets.
So, are cockatiels affectionate?
Yes, cockatiels are very affectionate. They love interactions with you and being handled, but they also love just hanging out near you. All birds are individualized, and one member of the same species may be more affectionate than another—in general, though, cockatiels are very affectionate.
Of course, it will often depend on how you look after them—they need to receive affection to give it back!
As long as you treat them properly and you properly socialize yourself with them, cockatiels are very affectionate, and love being petted and interacting with humans.
Read on to find out more.
Table of Contents
How do cockatiels show affection?
Cockatiels have many ways of showing affection that are not necessarily limited to bodily intimacy, although this certainly is a big one.
They will come over to you, want to rub their heads on your and preen you, and they may even sit on your shoulders or your arms.
This level of comfort is generally an indication of affection.
Other than that, there are many ways they can show you the way they feel.
Vocalisations is a big one; they may chirp and sing and whistle in particular ways when you are with them.
Cockatiels are not particularly noisy or vocal in general, but they will use their voices to indicate how affectionate they are feeling.
They can also pick up toys and bang them against things, as a show of excitement.
This excitement implies a level of affection and care towards you, since they are pleased and excited to see you.
Of course, the important thing to remember is, as I said, that individual cockatiels have different temperaments.
Not to mention that even the most loving cockatiel will sometimes not be in the mood for interaction—giving them space when they need it is just as important as regularly interacting with them to build a relationship.
So, let’s look at how they build that relationship.
Do cockatiels get attached to their owners?
Cockatiels are deeply social creatures, and in many ways, they will see you as another member of their flock.
They will get just as attached to you as they would to a paired other cockatiel.
Again, it goes without saying that this still depends on properly and regularly interacting with them, but they certainly will get attached to you over time.
You can see this in how their comfort evolves.
Like I said, they may get to a point where they regularly want to perch on you, or even simply more regularly wanting to be touched or petted.
Cockatiels, like many parrots, can live for a very long time.
Furthermore, in the wild, like many birds, cockatiels mate for life.
So, that gives you an idea of the capacity they have for affection and attachment.
If you treat it right, your cockatiel will be attached to you for decades.
Can a cockatiel love you?
The only real answer to this question is to say that it depends on your definition of love.
Obviously, it’s a human concept with a lot of baggage.
So, it can be hard to pin down what we mean when we ask if a cockatiel can love a person.
That said, if we simply understand love as a deep-seated and long-term affection towards you, then yes, cockatiels certainly can love you.
Again, as long as you treat them right, they will pretty much always become attached to you.
Different cockatiels will have different levels of ‘love’, depending on their temperament, but it is an evolutionary advantage for them to ‘love’ in order to mate for life in the wild.
So, by most definitions, yes, cockatiels certainly can love you!
Do cockatiels like to be held?
It largely depends, and there is no strict answer.
Certainly, a lot of the time, they will like being held, and they will make that clear to you.
They won’t wait for you to do it!
However, one of the most important things in interacting with your cockatiel is knowing when it wants to be left alone.
If you handle your cockatiel whenever you feel like it, the likelihood is you’re going to get on its nerves eventually.
This could have a permanent impact on your relationship.
So, only hold your cockatiel if you’re completely sure it wants it.
If you’re even remotely unsure, just leave it alone for a while.
Always try petting it a little before going in to pick it up—if it doesn’t want to be petted, it won’t want to be held.
Cockatiels are in general very affectionate, then.
Exactly how attached to you your particular cockatiel gets will depend on how well you treat them, and how often you take the time to play and interact with them.
As long as you do this regularly and maintain a solid relationship with your cockatiel, they will be very affectionate towards you and will be attached to you for decades!
It just depends on you and your individual cockatiel’s temperament.