Ask Lafeber


November 2, 2022

my cockatiel doesn’t like me

I have a cockatiel (male, 7months) that doesn’t really like me yet has befriended my sibling and mum. I am almost certain that he doesn’t like me because I used to pull the mechanical pencil leads , highlighters, and cables away form him when he really wants to nib on them. he only steps up my finger for a few seconds but doesn’t allow me to pet him or touch him. however, he recognizes my sibling and mum, fly to them, eat and drink with them, have a special melody to call each of them and loves to be petted by them. what could I do to gain his trust and love?


Hi June,

You have to remember this is a wild species of bird, and not a domestic pet like a dog. All of your bird’s behavior is based on natural instinct – nothing he does is personal. In the wild he would choose his own companions or mate. He simply prefers your mom and sibling – not because of anything you have done, it’s just his preference. You can continue to be kind to him, give him treats and encourage him to come to you. You can’t force a bird to like you. Again, this isn’t personal. Never try to punish him or correct him. Reward good behavior and ignore unwanted behavior. This is what he understands and how you can gain his trust.

Thank you for asking Lafeber,


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