Ask Lafeber


August 23, 2021

a pair of bonded cockatiel with a defensive male

i have successfully managed to step up the female cockatiel, and i could bring her to a perch to hang out, however, the male would get extremely agitated. she comes willing using the treat method, as he refuses to participate in training, even tho he does step up when he is in the mood, he would race out or randomly rush out the cage and scare her and my house would have 2 panicking cockatiels that doesn’t know how to find each other. then at that moment, both of them would not respond to food or commands. and i have to grab them both back to the perch, and then after a couple of mins, they would be fine until, the female accidentally falls and the male panics again.

this 2 are an adopted pair that was neglected and on bad diet for a long time, how long then i have no idea.

please help



Their behavior is very understandable, but you need to have a good understanding of natural cockatiel behavior. Each time you separate them, you are causing a lot of stress to both birds, but particularly the male, because it is his job to protect his mate. A bonded pair of cockatiels typically will not really want to be handled. In the wild, once an adult pair bond, they have little contact with other flock members. In fact, other adults are viewed as rivals, especially during breeding season. While they live in flocks, this is mainly for protection, and not physical contact. Only the juvenile birds have a lot of contact with each other. This is why it is best to keep a pet bird in its own cage, and not cage it with another bird. Once birds share a cage and bond, they no longer want the contact with a human. While you have made some progress with the female by giving her treats, you are causing a lot of stress to the male, because you are trying to steal or do harm to his mate. I know you want to let these birds have time out of the cage, but it’s best to find a way to do this that doesn’t involve handling the birds apart from each other. If it’s not good to just let them out on top of the cage, then try to stick train them, so that both birds can step up onto the same stick together. I would stop trying any kind of training that separates them, even briefly. Each separation is very hard on this male. He is staying stressed out all of the time, because he never knows when you might come back for his mate. It would be better for them to live in a very large cage, with toys to keep them busy, than to keep trying to handle them. I’ll give you the link to our pages on training and behavior. But at most, I would stick train them and keep the birds together for any training.

Teaching Your Bird

Pet Bird and Parrot Behavior

Thank you for asking Lafeber,


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