One of my favorite things about my cockatiel is how he is always the one to get most excited when I come home after an absence.
He seems instantly so excited he can’t keep himself still, flying around and jumping between perches.
I’ve always assumed this was more of just a general excitement at the person being home who provides food and entertainment, rather than specifically recognising me as an individual.
However, someone mentioned the other day how their cockatiel doesn’t do this, so I got wondering if it did somehow recognize me.
So I looked into it.
So, do cockatiels recognize their owners?
Yes, they definitely do. Cockatiels are highly social and intelligent, so they have a strong capacity to form a bond with you specifically. They know you, and relate to you on an emotional level. They might recognize you better if you wear bright colors, but they will know your face to a degree.
So, if you had any doubt, you can forget it.
Cockatiels definitely recognize their owners, and they will form very, very deep bonds with you.
They will know your face, and they will recognize your clothes.
They may even prefer you in bright clothing.
Let’s look further into this.
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Can cockatiels remember their owners?
Yes, they certainly can.
It’s worth pointing out, too, that cockatiels and birds in general do not have a particularly developed sense of smell, or even of touch.
Like many birds, cockatiels do most of their sensing with their eyes, and get most of their picture of the world from their sight.
This means that they will come to recognize you in exactly the same sense we understand the word.
If your cockatiel beholds you, it knows you by what you look like.
These kinds of relationships take time to build, though.
You can’t expect it to occur overnight.
Cockatiels are quite long lived, though, so once the bond is formed, it is likely to be there for a very long time.
Once your cockatiel knows you, it will become very excited at your arrival if you have been away.
Observe how it reacts to strangers, compared to you.
Depending on your cockatiel, it may be apprehensive or excited by strangers, but it won’t react to them like it does to you.
What are the signs, then, that your cockatiel likes you?
Let’s look at some of the biggest signs.
How do you tell if a cockatiel likes you?
The easiest way you can tell is what I have already mentioned: the way it reacts when you come back after an absence.
It will be very excited and come right over to you, chirping and cheeping and generally making a lot of noise.
You can also tell by if it grooms you.
If it nips at your ears and hair, preens itself near and upon you, and generally initiates a lot of physical contact.
This is the sort of thing it would only do with its mate in the wild—so it will certainly need to recognize you to make this distinction!
There are many behaviors you can observe that indicate your cockatiel likes you, but these are some of the clearest signs.
Do cockatiels forget their owners?
Once a bond is formed, a cockatiel is very unlikely to forget you.
Cockatiels in the wild very often mate for life, so they more than have the capacity to get attached to a single individual for decades.
This makes it very difficult for them to forget owners.
This is why giving up parrots that you’ve had for a long time is so bad for the parrot.
They will not forget you, but will instead become depressed at your absence.
Once you’ve formed a bond, your cockatiel will not forget you.
How to get my cockatiel to recognize me
You’ve just got to be patient, is, unfortunately, the only real answer.
As I said, it will not happen overnight, but may take many months before it’s at the deep point that you want it to be.
Make sure to play with your cockatiel directly as much as you can, especially early in its life.
This is the best way to bond with it and form a connection that will last a long time.
You’ll have to keep up this interaction, though. Once the bond is formed your cockatiel will need you even more than before.
Cockatiels are incredibly intelligent, and even though I’ve owned them for decades, I’m still constantly surprised by what they can do.
One of the first revelations, for me, was how they become attached to you and recognize you much as dogs do with their owners.
I know cockatiels could be affectionate, but not to this degree. So, naturally, they will continue to recognize you for years and years—if you are taking care of them properly!