Ask Lafeber


January 11, 2023

My Cockatiel Won’t Grow Tail Feathers

My 7 months old cockatiel hasn’t ever grown his tail long enough, and when they do get a little long they break or fall off. While he preens his body regularly I haven’t ever seen him preen his tail feathers which causes them to become messy and dirty. Are the two related?



This is pretty normal with a young cockatiel. They are clumsy and active and wreck their tail! He should be on a nutritionally balanced diet like pellets – not a loose seed mix – with fresh greens, veggies and some fruit. Nutrition is important for healthy feathers. Also his cage needs to be large enough. If he is on a good diet with a large cage, he should outgrow this and will have nice tail feathers as he gets older. Tail feathers are also the hardest to groom and takes a lot of balance, so he will learn to groom them better as he gets older.

Thank you for asking Lafeber,


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