Cockatiel Scratching Head With Foot – What It Really Means

A cockatiel scratching head with foot may seem odd.

This is particularly true if you have never seen your pet bird do this before. However, this is nothing strange or out of the ordinary at all. In fact, head scratching is essential to any creature – even to birds.

There are many reasons why a cockatiel does this, and we will explore the many reasons why this happens and what you need to do when you see your pet do this.

Keep reading to find out the common causes of this head scratching action and whether you should be concerned or not. Let’s get started.

cockatiel scratching head with foot

Causes Of A Cockatiel Scratching Head With Foot

Not many people may be aware of this but head scratching is actually quite essential to your winged friend. For instance, it serves a number of functions, primarily for maintaining plumage. Since birds that are preening are unable to reach their heads using the beak, they can spread their preen oil by scratching.

Moreover, they tend to gather their preen oil on their bill, then they use their foot to scrape their bill before scratching their head. 

Additionally, scratching the head also helps in removing their molted feathers. The part close to the ear is often scratched, and this action is also linked with the changes in pressure in their eustachian tubes. But it may appear to be counterintuitive because they are not really inserting the claws inside. 

However, for birds that are engaged in chronic scratching, it is likely that there are other functions for this such as in taking ectoparasites out, or creatures that live on the outer portion of their host. 

Additional Details On Cockatiel Scratching Head With Foot

Do you notice your cockatiel scratching itself more often than usual? As we have mentioned, birds naturally scratch themselves regularly. But there is a huge difference between occasional scratching and more frequent scratching. If you notice that your pet scratches too often, then it may be time to investigate and see why this has been happening.

There are many reasons why your cockatiel may itch. They may simply be scratching their skin because it is dry, while it can also be linked to infections, allergies, and parasites. 

But in most cases, cockatiels scratch themselves naturally to remove dirt and dust from their feathers. These creatures prefer to keep their feathers neat and clean, while at the same time in proper alignment as they get ready for their flight.

So if it is nothing but normal scratching, then you should not be worried at all. This may simply be your bird’s way of grooming itself and preening. In the case of excessive scratching using the foot, something could definitely up, and it is time to intervene.

Here are a few things you can do when you see your cockatiel scratch its head with the foot.

1. Check for bird mites.

One of the common reasons behind frequent scratching is that there is a mite issue with your pet. But at the same time, it is not typical for cockatiels to have mites unless they are wild or commonly exposed to other wild birds.

Some typical mites in birds include scaly face mites, air sac mites, and skin and feather mites. So, if you have observed your pet digging at itself and scratching frequently, you may want to observe its skin. An avian vet can help address this issue with mites and keep this health concern under control.

2. Nutritional Deficiency

Just like you, your pet needs proper nutrients to thrive. Its skin relies on important nutrients such as zinc and vitamin A. Furthermore, nutrition has an impact on your pet’s health, including the skin. So, if you notice frequent scratching, it may be that your cockatiel’s health is not at its best.

You need to make sure that your pet eats a nutritious and balanced meal each day. Among the key vitamins that may not be present in some pellets include vitamin E, A, B vitamins and beta carotene. This is why it is important to supplement your pet’s diet with healthy foods.

Vitamin A is necessary for healthy skin, immunity, respiratory health, and growth. It is also needed in maintaining the bird’s preening gland. So, if excessive scratching, bobbing tail, itchy and dry eyes are present, you will have to ramp up your pet’s vitamin A supply. 

Omega 3s are also necessary for regulating the oil production in the skin while enhancing a balanced hydration. Your pet also needs these essential fatty acids to soften rough and dry skin while speeding up the healing process for dermatitis and other skin conditions. Bird-safe foods to include in its diet include hemp seeds, walnuts, flax seeds, and chia seeds.

In some cases, low humidity has a negative impact on your pet’s skin. This is typical for cockatiels that are from a sub-tropical region. So, it helps to improve the humidity in your home by adding a humidifier, reducing the furnace heat, and placing water containers in your pet’s room. These all help in increasing the humidity levels in your indoor space.

Read More: Budgie Chewing On Nothing? Why They Do It!

Wrapping Up

A cockatiel scratching head with foot is completely normal – yet it can be concerning if this is something you are not used to seeing in your bird. So, it helps to observe for some health issues such as mites, or have your avian vet check your pet to make sure it is getting ample nutrients from its diet daily. 

There are ways to increase the nutritional value in your cockatiel’s diet, which is by providing more foods high in nutrients needed for healthy skin such as vitamin A, E, omega 3s, B vitamins, and zinc. 

Also, keeping the room more humid than dry aids in preventing dry skin that often leads to frequent scratching. After all, your pet is naturally from a more humid region, which is why the ambient temperature must match its natural habitat to ensure its comfort and hea

Leave a Comment

Read more