All parrots demonstrate a wide range of unusual and curious behaviors.
One of the hardest parts of keeping a parrot is learning to understand and interpret all of the things it does, what they mean, and how to respond.
One of those common behaviors sees the cockatiel staring at the wall, and not turning around sometimes for long periods of time.
So, why do they do this?
Don’t worry, your cockatiel staring at the wall is normal behavior. They often do this when they are nervous after first meeting you. It usually does mean they are frightened but getting frightened is not unusual for cockatiels. Just take the time to get to know them and they will warm to you and stop doing this.
So, at first, you should really expect your cockatiel to spend time staring at the wall.
It’s an adjustment period for a cockatiel to get used to a new home, and part of that will be frightening for them.
Let’s find out more.
What does it mean when a cockatiel stares at the wall?
It usually means one thing: that your cockatiel is frightened.
But don’t worry.
This is a very commonly observed behavior in cockatiels that have been newly brought home.
They are often very nervous and anxious in their new environment, and the move from where they were before can be extremely stressful.
At first, they will also not trust you as they will eventually come to.
You are obviously quite large and frightening to a small bird, so they will very often stare at the wall due to being frightened.
They cannot flee, so they attempt to make themselves inconspicuous instead.
Naturally, though, this doesn’t really work as we are more aware of their odd behavior.
In any case, it is something that will most commonly subside within a week or two of acclimatizing your parrot to its new environment.
This early stage is really crucial, and it’s important that you are taking the time to bond with your cockatiel and help it get used to its new home.
We have said so far that your cockatiel stares at the wall because it is frightened.
This is essentially true, but this emotion falls under a broader spectrum of stress.
How do you tell if a cockatiel is stressed?
There are many signs that a cockatiel is stressed that you can look out for.
One of the first which you will notice a lot of at the beginning will be this staring at the wall.
It’s a manifestation of stress too, something they do to try and calm themselves down and avoid making eye contact.
It’s, again, a very common behavior that you will almost certainly notice at first.
This demonstrates only quite low-level stress, though.
For more intense stress, there are more problematic behaviors that you will begin to notice.
Biting is a common one.
Cockatiels are generally not particularly nippy, or at least they are only playfully.
If your cockatiel is biting you, then this is a good indication it is stressed for some reason.
Hissing is another common thing cockatiels will do when they are stressed.
This is an unmistakable noise and is not pleasant to hear.
If your cockatiel keeps hissing at you, then it is most likely stressed.
It will also scream excessively and lunge at you a lot.
These are all the most common behaviors to look out for from your cockatiel.
If you notice any of these, then it’s a good sign your cockatiel is stressed for some reason.
As I said, stress is common in the earliest stages of bringing the cockatiel home.
That said, it shouldn’t really be showing these signs of extreme stress.
Looking at the wall, yes—but biting and screaming, not so much.
Let’s find out what to do if your cockatiel is stressed.
What should you do if your cockatiel is stressed?
You’re going to need to spend some time with the cockatiel to get it used to you, first of all.
That’s going to be the first hurdle.
You’re not going to be able to help it to calm down if you stress it out with your presence.
As I said, at first, it will be quite stressed by you, and stare at the wall when you come near.
This is normal as it gets used to you.
Over the first few weeks, spend time with it, getting it used to being touched and handled by you.
Use food and treats to encourage closer interactions and bonding.
Once it’s used to you and finds comfort in your presence, this will be the first big step to alleviating stress.
But beyond the first stages of bringing it home, there are many other things that can cause stress.
Diet, environment, loneliness, lack of stimulation—any of these things could lead to the symptoms of stress we looked at above.
Try to identify the root cause of the problem by trying different things.
Give it new foods and treats in its diet.
The boredom with the food they’re eating can certainly lead to stress.
Make sure they have plenty of toys and puzzles to play with, or again, they will begin to get bored and stressed.
Cockatiels and parrots in general are highly intelligent animals, and without enough to do, they’ll get bored very quickly.
This can lead to high levels of stress.
Other than that, there could be a physical ailment causing the stress.
If you suspect your parrot is sick, you should take it to the vet as soon as you can.
They can identify the problem and prescribe the best treatment.
What does it mean when a cockatiel stares at you?
One of the subtler ways that a cockatiel indicates something is wrong is by staring at you.
If it is staring at you, then the likelihood is that your cockatiel wants something from you.
Most often, it will just be food.
They are always looking forwards to their next meal.
Try giving it something to snack on first.
It may also mean that they want to be let out of their cage.
They need time to explore around for stimulation, so you should make sure they’re getting plenty of time out of their cage every day.
This is also a great time to get good bonding in.
It may also just want attention.
As I said, they need and crave interaction on a regular basis, or they will become bored and stressed.
Try giving it affection in the ways it likes.
Finally, there may be something more generally wrong.
Again, if you’ve tried everything else and it still seems to be staring at you and unhappy, then you may want to speak to a vet.
It’s always better to eliminate the possibility that something is really wrong.
Why does my cockatiel look down?
Looking down might be a behavior we would associate with discomfort or distress of some kind, but in cockatiels, it usually just means they want you to scratch or pet their head!
They may take a while to demonstrate this kind of behavior, as they get more used to you, but when they do, it’s nothing to worry about.
Birds like to preen one another, and they help each other to do this by bowing their heads.
So, if you see your cockatiel bowing its head and coming towards you, this is a good sign that it’s formed a deep bond with you!
Is it normal for a cockatiel to hang upside down?
Yes, it is—in fact, cockatiels doing this indicate they are feeling safer and happier than ever!
Being upside down naturally makes your cockatiel very vulnerable, so it’s a good indication that they feel totally comfortable around you.
It’s a sign of playfulness, something they do for fun when they are feeling totally comfortable and happy.
However, it can have other meanings.
They might hang upside down with their wings stretched out to be protective of territory.
It could also just be a means of stretching.
More often than not, though, it’s completely normal and something they will do habitually.
While staring at the wall does indicate your bird is feeling less than completely confident, it’s also a typical behavior you can expect to see at least at first.
Getting used to a new home can be a significant curve for your cockatiel, and so you’ve got to be sure you know what you’re getting into beforehand.
Once you’ve spent some time with them, they’ll get used to their new home without any issues, and will stop staring at the wall.