Why Does My Cockatiel Nibble Me?

Cockatiels like all birds like to use their beaks for everything from eating to communicating.

If you find that your bird is nibbling you, this is because they want to show affection to you as it considers you a part of its family.

Besides nibbling, there are also many other ways your cockatiel will tell you it loves you (which I talk about in this article

Here’s what you’re going to discover in this article

  • Why does your bird nibble you?
  • Should you allow your cockatiel to nibble you?
  • How does a cockatiel show affection?
  • How to tell if your cockatiel loves you

Sound good?

Let’s get started!

Why Does My Bird Nibble On Me?

Nibbling is bordering on becoming a bite but you will know the difference.


Let me explain..

A true bite would hurt and it might be accompanied by furious wind flapping or a loud squawk – it may even break the skin.

On the other hand, when your bird nibbles you, it has a completely different meaning from a fearful bite.

Cockatiels are affectionate birds and they love to show affection to their loved ones.

One way they do this is by planting kisses on their mates or their humans.

Much like humans kiss with their mouths, cockatiels use their beaks and tongues and gently nibble you.

Even in the wild, cockatiels will often show affection to their flock mates by kissing one another in this manner.

Another reason for your cockatiel’s nibbling behavior is that it is preening you.

As your bird considers you to be a part of its flock, it will also want to look after you by cleaning the dirt out of your fingernails and hair.

Finally, your cockatiel may want to nibble you as it uses its beak to explore its surroundings.

In particular, you will find that your cockatiel is extra nibbly when you have rings on your finger or even nail polish with a bright new color that intrigues your bird.

So your little birdie nibbling you is rather cute!

Question is – Should you allow this?

Let’s find out..

Should I Allow My Cockatiel To Nibble Me?

Your cockatiel uses its beak for so many different reasons.

It uses its beak to eat, to sing, to explore, to grab, and even to express itself.

For this reason, you should never openly discourage your cockatiel from using its beak especially if it’s not harming anyone.

This is simply their way of showing affection, preening, and exploring.

Therefore, you should never punish them for nibbling – it is completely natural for them to do so.

Although if the nibbling bothers you to some extent, you can always redirect your cockatiel’s energy into something that you approve such as playing with a fun toy or chewing on a snack. 

How Does a Cockatiel Show Affection?

Any bird owner knows that these animals are incredibly affectionate to those that they consider a part of their flock.

What are some of the key points to note when you ask yourself:

How does a cockatiel show affection?

You should know instinctively when your cockatiel is showing you affection, but let’s cover some of the basic telltale signs.

Cockatiels will make excited noises when they are happy to see someone just like a dog will greet you when it sees you.

Some of these noises include singing and chirping.

Cockatiels are not as talkative as other bird species but they will make noise to show how excited they are.

Your cockatiel will crave physical affection if it wants to be with you.

When it is out of its cage, a cockatiel that wants to show affection will head straight towards you for cuddles.

It may want to spend some time grooming you as well with its beak. 

Body movement is another way a cockatiel will show affection.

A happy cockatiel will approach its owner with its head held high – this is its way of asking for strokes.

Your cockatiel may also wag its tail and blink continuously in an effort to flirt with you.

Cockatiels will also show affection by regurgitating their food for you.

Although at first glance, this might seem like odd behavior, many bird species including cockatiels will regurgitate their food for their babies and mates in the wild.

If your cockatiel spits out its food in front of you on your hand, take it as a compliment as it means that it considers you a part of its flock.

How Do You Tell If Your Cockatiel Loves You?

Birds don’t love the way we humans do, but a way of knowing if your bird “loves” you or not is by seeing how comfortable your pet bird is with your presence.

If your cockatiel shows affection in any of the above-mentioned ways, this is a surefire way of telling if your cockatiel loves you.

The cockatiel’s crest is another way of hinting at your cockatiel’s mood around you.

If your cockatiel’s crest feathers are relaxed, it means that the bird is comfortable with you and your presence.

In essence, if your cockatiel wants to be with you and enjoys your presence, you have a bird that loves you.

Wrapping Up 

As its beak is one of the cockatiel’s main tools for communication with the owner, it’s important to understand what your cockatiel wants and why it is nibbling on your finger or even your ear.

Your bird may nibble you for a variety of reasons and most of it is related to showing affection.

These birds can show affection in numerous ways by using their beaks, their bodies, their crests, and even their voices.

The cockatiel is an adorable pet and when you can spot these signs of affection and love, your relationship with your bird will only get better!

Related articles that you may find interesting

My cockatiel bites everything

Cockatiel hissing and biting 

Do cockatiels poop everywhere 

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