Ask Lafeber


April 5, 2019

Cockateil hiding his head inside feeder on cage

I just purchased a cockateil about 2 weeks ago and she is 1 years old not hand raised and she’s hiding her head and sits a lot next to her feeder inside cage and then sticks her head in there for quite some time, she is defensive but is getting better, she’s very quiet and doesn’t move around much inside cage at all only at night once she’s left alone and settled, she’s got about 2 toys and about 1 metre by 40cm by 50cm cages, she was the loudest cockateil and only white one in the aviary at the pet store.


Hi Luke,

Her behavior is pretty normal under the circumstances. She has been used to being with other cockatiels and it sounds like she has never been handled. She probably should not have been sold as a pet. Generally speaking, hand fed male cockatiels are better as pets although a hand fed female can be a good pet. And any cockatiel that was not hand fed and never handled is very difficult to tame. Even a hand fed bird will revert to being wild if kept in an aviary with other cockatiels and not handled. I don’t want to discourage you or say taming her is impossible,  but you really have your work cut out for you and still she may never tame down. She might learn to step up on a stick, she might learn to get on a hand without biting, but as far as being a personable pet, this is not likely. I just want to be realistic with you and not mislead you on your chances with her. And some birds surprise you, so you never know until you try.

You need to leave her alone for now as far as trying to touch her. You can talk softly to her and move slowly when you give her food and water. I would not even try to work with her until she starts to show any interest or curiosity around you. If she gets to the point that she will approach you when you are near the cage, then you are closer to being able to work with her. This will take time – could be weeks, months – it is up to her. If you do get to the point of trying to work with her, you need to have her wings trimmed by a professional. If she can fly away from you, that is what she will do and you won’t have any chance to work with her.

I’m going to give you a link to one of our pages with articles on behavior and how to handle your bird. And we are here to help if you run into any issued or have more questions.

Caring For Your Bird

Thank you for asking Lafeber,


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