Cockatiel Flapping Wings – Common Reasons You Should Know

A cockatiel flapping wings can make some owners worry that something is wrong with their pet.

But the truth is that they are merely expressing themselves with this gesture. Yet, for others, it may appear as a problem worth addressing.

But then again, there are a few other reasons behind this behavior. This is why we will talk more about this topic and check the most common reasons why this wing flapping movement happens. Let’s get started!

cockatiel flapping wings

Reasons For A Cockatiel Flapping Wings

For the most part, cockatiels rely on their wings for flying and for communication. They also use these for stretching and exercising their bodies. This is why if you have a pet cockatiel, it is not uncommon to see them flap their wings – and there is absolutely nothing wrong about it.

However, many owners would like to understand why this happens and if there are further reasons behind this behavior. 

But typically, they flap their wings to fly, stretch, improve circulation in their body, cool off, seek attention, and to warn off other birds. They may also be experiencing nightmares or night frights, as well as displeasure – and flapping their wings is their only means of letting you know what they’re going through. 

Basically, repeated and definite flapping accompanied by an aggressive flap with its tail motion can mean differently. With this in mind, you should learn to decode the meaning of each gesture, which you can do so by studying the rest of the body.

If you see your pet holding out its wings and puffing the feathers up, this is a sign of aggression. It is usually followed by hissing or screeching – in other words, your pet is telling you or that other bird to back off.

However, if the flapping of wings is done in a more relaxed manner, then there is nothing to worry about. Perhaps your pet is simply trying to cool itself off, particularly when the weather is hot and humid. 

Other Causes Of Cockatiel Flapping Wings

Some cockatiels tend to flap their wings only at night. When they do this it may mean that they are frustrated or agitated. Perhaps, they are experiencing night frights, and they are flapping their wings nervously to calm themselves down. However, this can also prevent them from sleeping throughout the night, which can make them stressed during the day.

So, if your pet is prone to doing this, then you may want to do something to give it some kind of comfort. You may consider covering the cage, especially at night. This can help ease your pet’s fear and pacify this terror it is experiencing. 

Additionally, you may want to check if there is something that is disrupting your pet’s sleep. There may be some ongoing loud noises that cause your pet to be fearful. So, it may be worth considering moving your cockatiel’s cage to another room – particularly at the back portion of the house. This is particularly true when the road next to the cage is busy or too loud.

Some birds prefer to sleep in an area where the ambient temperature is warm or when it is dark. You may have to experiment what works best for your pet to make sure there are no disruptions to its sleep.

Now, there are also cockatiels that tend to flap their wings constantly, yet they are not really flying. Initially, you may think that it is attempting to fly but without any success. What this means is that they are only exercising their wings or stretching them out. 

It can also be a sign of a routine for your pet. Your cockatiel may simply be working on something to enrich and circulate its body. Hence, this flapping helps as an exercise – just as with humans doing some stretches first thing in the morning.

On the other hand, if there is insufficient room in the cage, then your cockatiel may be frustrated because of the lack of space. They need to have ample room in the cage for playing, flying, and moving around. This also prevents them from getting stressed. 

Next up, cockatiels that flap their wings while facing each other can mean so many things. For instance, it may be their way of communicating with one another. They may also groom or preen while doing this, as well as sing. When you observe the movements to be gentle and calm, and mostly without much wing movement, then it should be fine. 

However, swift flapping of wings to one another is a sign of aggression or agitation. Perhaps the two birds are having some kind of a disagreement or a dispute, which then turns into a major fight. So, it is essential to read your pet’s body language in addition to observing the wing flapping movement. Some vocalizations may also be included such as screeching and hissing. 

They may also eventually peck each other or chase one another, which is why you may want to separate the two birds that are expressing aggression and signs of a dispute.

Now, if your pet is only alone in the cage, yet it is flapping its wings while screaming, perhaps your cockatiel is uncomfortable with its environment. The cage should be big enough for it, which also allows room for it to move. This will also ease the stress and may eventually stop the constant flapping of the wings.

Read More: I Can’t Tame My Cockatiel – What You Can Do!


There are a number of reasons behind a cockatiel flapping wings. For example, your pet may simply be trying to cool itself during the hot weather, or it may be expressing excitement or happiness.

But if the flapping of wings is followed by screeching, hissing, or screaming, then it means something else. If your pet is with a companion, then perhaps there is tension between them. But if you have only one cockatiel in the cage, then your feathered friend may be uncomfortable in the cage because it is too small or cramped.

By knowing the other gestures involved with the flapping of wings, you can understand what your pet is going through and take the right action to resolve any issue that is present.

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