Ask Lafeber


March 8, 2021

Issues with training a Cockatiel

I have a 3 1/2 months old Cockatiel. I want to work with her on some of her behavior, but she gets upset when I reward her only a bit of millet. Ive tried pine nuts, but she won’t touch them. I’m concerned that I won’t be able to train her effectively like this, but I’m also concerned what this means long-term if I do nothing about it.
What should I do?


Hi Ember,

Your cockatiel is still a baby and isn’t going to have much attention span for training. She can learn the basics like stepping up and letting you scratch her head. Cockatiels often respond more to praise and attention than treats. The most important thing to remember is that birds do not respond well to negative attention. Most undesirable behaviors are based on seeking attention, and even negative attention is giving her what she wants. You should ignore unwanted behaviors like noise, and instead reward her for being quiet or for talking instead of screeching. Being a female, she isn’t likely to talk. And female cockatiels in general are fussier than the males and not always open to being petted. Of course any petting should be limited to her head and neck to avoid triggering her hormones. Training sessions need to be short and she needs to be focused and interested in learning. I’m not sure what you are trying to work on, but keep things simple. If she isn’t having fun, then the session will not be productive. I’ll give you the link to our taming and training page for more information.

Teaching Your Bird

Thank you for asking Lafeber,


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