Why Is My Cockatiel Hanging Upside Down?

If you are a first time Cockatiel owner, you might be alarmed when you see your cockatiel hanging upside down often. You will observe this even when they are playing, sleeping, drinking or eating. But this is natural and normal behavior for cockatiels.

So Why Is My Cockatiel Hanging Upside Down?

It should not be a cause for worry. It’s not only in cockatiels that it’s observed. Hanging upside down poses is also a behavior that’s seen in parrots and parakeets. It’s always a good sign. If the bird feels comfortable enough to be in this vulnerable position, then definitely it is happy, secure and healthy in its home situation.

It’s not only when it’s upside down, that they are in a contented and playful mood. If you find the chirper swinging on its perch, it’s happy too.

cockatiel hanging upside down on hand
Image Credit: animawllover, deviantart.com.

When your Cockatiel hangs upside down in your presence, you are a most fortunate pet owner. It means it likes you and trusts you. You will also notice it in the bird’s head and beak movements.

Cockatiel owners also report this process that the bird undergoes. They say that their birds will bend forward up until they reach the upside down position. Then they will spread their wings open like they will resemble a hanging bat.

These owners see these a lot of times and they are not alarmed anymore. They know it is a sign that their Cockatiel is happy and showing harmless and normal behavior.

But still some owners just find it eerily strange that their dear birds are mimicking the pose of upside down bats. They would discover that at times it is not happiness they are portraying.

Sometimes it’s a way for the Cockatiel to block the entrance of their cage.

cockatiel hanging upside down
Image Credit: Pepper and Pals, Twitter.

This also shows one instinct of the Cockatiel to protect both their nest and the cage. But this is also normal behavior.

Cockatiel Behavior That Needs To Be Observed

But there are instances when you should really take notice with your Cockatiel. But it’s not when they are upside down. You can sometimes see it backing up into a corner.

The bird is doing this because it feels threatened and is retreating. Observe it until it returns back to its perch. Don’t attempt to play with it or handle it when it’s cornered. Most likely you will be bitten.

There’s also another sign that your bird is not happy and it also has nothing to do with being upside down. It sways from side to side. Then it raises its shoulders and also its head and crest will be up.

In addition, it will add hissing sounds which is like the sound that ensues when blowing through the nose. This is definitely a time when your bird is not secure with the situation.

It could be you are physically so close to it so much or something else is upsetting it.

There are also times when your Cockatiel fluffs up its feathers and then shakes its body. In this way, a Cockatiel wants to relax and let out tension. It does this after a preening or after something frightens them.

But if the bird is fluffed up often and looks sleepy, it might be ill. An additional sign is when it is puffy. Fluffing up means the bird wants to retain body heat. It’s a good time to see the bird vet this time.

If You’re Still Worried About This Upside Down Thing

Despite all the research and talk that the upside down stance is a sign of a happy bird, you’re still not convinced. Something inside you senses something is wrong because it is done very often by your chirper.

To ward off all worries, discuss these concerns with your vet at the next bird check up. If just to comfort your parental instincts when it comes to your Cockatiel, schedule that appointment to rule out anything negative.

Cockatiel Owners Who Want To Think Out Loud

There’s one Cockatiel owner who says that her bird goes upside down on a daily basis. She would sit on one of her perches or even human shoulders, and she will bend forward.

After bending, she will do it until she is completely upside down and then spread her wings. She will hold the pose with her wings wide open for several seconds. And then sit upright again.

She does this more often at night before bedtime for whatever reason the owner doesn’t know. She does this habit several times a day.

Now, the bird is 2 years old, and the habit seems to be in no way abating but even accelerating. But the owner thinks it is cute behavior. She’s even more scared when the bird doesn’t do this.

The thing is, the other cockatiels also imitate this behavior but don’t it as spontaneously as this bird on a daily basis.

Other owners reacted to this and said this is mostly female Cockatiel’s behavior. It’s a territorial display of saying, I own this cage.

Some owners with male cockatiels also report this behavior but on a less frequent regularity. Still, others say, they go upside down because they might be asking for a misting or a shower.

Leave The Hanging Upside Down Thing To Rest

Just simply accept the fact that your Cockatiel is enjoying life while in reverse view of the world. It’s also a good way for them to flex and exercise their wings.

Or they could be showing their territorial dominance over their cage. Let them show some pride. Or asking for a misting or shower.

So don’t worry. Period.

Cockatiel Should Not Be Mistaken With Other Upside Down Birds

The Cockatiel should not be mistaken with the Nuthatch. It’s about 25 species of a short tailed long billed bird. Aside from hanging upside down, they have the ability to grip tree barks as they walk up and down trunks and branches.

a hanging nuthatch
Image credit: Sergey Yeliseev, flickr.

The Cockatiel is a pleasant bird pet to own. Let it see the world in all its splendor, upside down. Leave it be.

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