When do Cockatiels Raise Their Head Feathers? A Comprehensive Guide for Bird Owners.

Cockatiels are native to Australia and are part of the parrot family. They are small, weighing between 70 and 100 grams and are around 12 to 14 inches in length. Cockatiels are social birds and thrive in flocks. They are intelligent and can learn to mimic sounds, words, and even songs. They have a lifespan of around 15 to 20 years in captivity, making them popular pets for bird lovers.

The Function of Cockatiel Head Feathers

Cockatiel head feathers are unique and have various functions. They are located on top of the bird’s head and consist of a series of long, narrow feathers that can be raised or lowered. These feathers play a crucial role in the bird’s communication, socialization, and overall well-being.

Understanding the Anatomy of Cockatiel Feathers

To understand why cockatiels raise their head feathers, it’s essential to understand the anatomy of their feathers. Cockatiels, like all birds, have three types of feathers: contour feathers, down feathers, and filoplumes. Contour feathers provide the bird with its distinctive shape and are responsible for flight. Down feathers are soft and provide insulation, while filoplumes are hair-like feathers that are involved in sensory functions.

Why Do Cockatiels Raise Their Head Feathers?

Cockatiels raise their head feathers for a variety of reasons. One of the most common reasons is to communicate their mood and emotions. A raised crest can indicate excitement, interest, or aggression. It can also be a sign of fear or stress. In some cases, cockatiels may raise their head feathers to regulate their body temperature, as the feathers help to dissipate heat.

Factors That Influence Cockatiel Head Feather Raising

Several factors can influence when and why cockatiels raise their head feathers. Understanding these factors can help you better understand your bird’s behavior and improve your relationship with them.

Mood and Emotions

Cockatiels are highly emotional birds and can be affected by changes in their environment, diet, and social interactions. If your bird is feeling happy and content, they may raise their head feathers as a sign of excitement or playfulness. However, if they are feeling stressed or scared, they may raise their crest as a sign of fear or aggression.

Communication and Socialization

Cockatiels are social birds that use a variety of vocal and physical cues to communicate with each other. Raising their head feathers is just one of the ways they can signal their feelings to other birds. If you have multiple cockatiels in your home, you may notice that they raise their crests more frequently when interacting with each other.

Environmental Factors

The environment in which your cockatiel lives can also affect their behavior and whether they raise their head feathers. For example, if your bird is in a noisy or busy environment, they may raise their crest more often as a sign of being on alert. If they are in a calm and quiet environment, they may raise their crest less often.

When to Expect Cockatiel Head Feather Raising

Cockatiels can raise their head feathers at any time, but certain factors may influence when and how often they do so.

Age-Related Changes in Cockatiels

As cockatiels age, they may raise their crest less frequently than younger birds. This is because older birds may become less active and more sedentary, which can affect their mood and energy levels.

Seasonal Changes and Breeding Behavior

Cockatiels are seasonal breeders and may raise their crest more frequently during the breeding season. This is because they become more active and vocal when looking for a mate. If you have a male cockatiel, you may notice them raising their crest more often during courtship displays.

Health Issues and Medical Conditions

In some cases, cockatiels may raise their crest as a sign of a health issue or medical condition. For example, if your bird is feeling ill or in pain, they may raise their crest as a sign of discomfort. If you notice your bird raising their crest more frequently than usual, it’s essential to take them to a vet for a check-up.

Training Your Cockatiel to Raise Head Feathers on Cue

If you want to train your cockatiel to raise their head feathers on cue, it’s essential to use positive reinforcement techniques.

Positive Reinforcement Techniques

Start by selecting a cue, such as saying “raise your crest.” When your bird raises their crest, reward them with a treat or praise. Repeat this several times a day until your bird associates the cue with the behavior.

Common Challenges and Solutions

Some birds may be more challenging to train than others. If your bird is not responding to the cue, try using a different cue or changing the reward. Be patient and consistent, and don’t force your bird to do anything they are not comfortable with.


Cockatiel head feather raising is a fascinating behavior that can tell us a lot about our birds’ mood, emotions, and overall health. By understanding the factors that influence this behavior, we can improve our relationship with our birds and provide them with the care and attention they need. If you notice any changes in your bird’s behavior, it’s essential to seek advice from a vet to ensure they are healthy and happy.

ThePetFaq Team