10 Taming Tips For New Cockatiel Owners!

Published by Joseph Calabrese on

Last updated: 02/08/2023

Are you ready to start taming your newly adopted cockatiel?

(I’m sure you are, since you’re reading this)

If you’re a complete newbie to cockatiel care and not sure what to do after adopting, you’ve come to the right place. I’m about to show you EXACTLY how to build a solid, trust-based relationship with your bird.

Below are 10 tips you can use to successfully tame a new cockatiel.

By following everything in this article, your cockatiel will quickly go from seeing you as a huge scary creature… 

To seeing you as a fellow flock member!

Let’s get started…

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How To Tame a New Cockatiel (10 Tips)

After bringing home an untamed cockatiel, they’re going to be scared, confused, and maybe even aggressive. 

They don’t know where they are.

They don’t know who YOU are.

Everything is new, which equals scary. 

Following these 10 tips will help your new cockatiel see you as a non-threat.

Given enough time, they’ll also see you as a positive caring figure that they can bond with.

That’s the ultimate goal.

Then it’s just a matter of maintaining that good relationship.

But it all starts with taming your tiel’ using these 10 trust-building methods…

Cockatiel taming

1. Be Near Your New Cockatiel Often

Spending time just being near your cockatiel works wonders.

It helps them understand that you have no intentions of eating them since you’ve spent long periods sitting near them without trying anything predatory.

You’re teaching the new cockatiel that you’re a non-threat.

Hang out with your untamed cockatiel often.

2. Talk & Whistle To Your Cockatiel

Cockatiels are vocal communicators.

They make all sorts of noises to their flock members, such as contact calls, squawking, and whistling.

By vocalising (talking or whistling) towards your cockatiel, you’re expressing social interest.

Cockatiels are socially intelligent, so they’ll pick up on this.

They’ll soon be convinced that you’re a non-threat.

Not only that, but they’ll figure out that you also want to be friends!

3. Show Yourself As a Carer

Provide food and water… 

Keep their cage nice and clean…

And move their cage to a cosy place for them to sleep at night. 

Again, cockatiels are smart, so they’ll pick up on the fact that you’re caring for their needs.

Even if they don’t understand why you’re cleaning the cage, they’ll definitely understand why you’re providing food and water.

Doing all this in front of your bird shows you as a carer.

That earns you some huge trust points!

Bonus points if you can care for them without invading their personal space.

4. Don’t Let Them Out Of The Cage Until They’re At Least Partially Tamed

There’s a BIG mistake I see new bird owners make all the time:

They decide to let their newly adopted, untamed cockatiel out of the cage to give them “freedom” or something.

Because they didn’t think ahead, now they can’t get the bird back IN the cage.

Owners in this situation often resort to GRABBING the bird.

That’s a huge no-no.

That’s also why I suggest taming your cockatiel inside the cage.

Avoid letting them out of the cage until they’re at least partially tamed.

Don’t worry, they’ll be fine as long as you follow the next tip…

5. Ensure Their Cage Is Big Enough & Set Up Properly

My cockatiels tame cage
My cockatiel’s current cage

Taming your cockatiel in a fitting environment just makes life easier.

If your cockatiel has enough room inside its cage to move, climb, jump, play, and forage, they’re going to be a lot more accepting of your taming attempts. 

They won’t need to worry about the cage being too small.

Your cockatiel will be nice and comfortable during the taming period.  

That’s the ideal situation you want!

Building trust just happens a lot faster when the cockatiel is comfortable.

Related: How To Setup a Cockatiel Cage (Simple Guide)

6. Use Delicious Treats To Win Their Hearts ♥

The key to your any cockatiel’s heart is delicious treats!

Most cockatiels love millet spray, sunflower seeds, dried fruits, and various other little snacks.

Occasionally drop a treat into their bowl or if possible, feed it to them by hand. 

Another way is to put it somewhere they can easily access. 

Use treats to help tame your newly adopted cockatiel.

7. Allow ALL Household Members To Interact With The Cockatiel

One of the worst things you can do is turn your new cockatiel into a “one-person bird”.

A “one-person bird” gets overly attached to you and nobody else, often leading to aggression towards other household members.

The best way to prevent this is to give everyone in your home the chance to care for the cockatiel.

Maybe one person can serve food while another cleans the cage.

This allows the cockatiel to bond with everyone!

Cockatiel taming

Related: How I Turned My One-Person Bird Into a Social Butterfly

8. Be Patient While Taming Your Cockatiel (THIS Is Key 🔑)

Arguably the most important taming tip is to be patient.

Don’t try to rush your new cockatiel into becoming tame.

If you feel like they need a bit more time to get used to you or the environment, give them that time.

It’ll all be worth it once they’re a friendly, affectionate, and social companion.

Moving from one place to another is quite stressful for a bird.

Give them the time they need to properly adjust.

9. Keep Them Away From Your Other Birds (If You Have Any)

If you already have other birds in the home, it’s best to prevent your new cockatiel from interacting with them.

This is especially the case with another cockatiel.

Not only might they fight…

They could bond with each other.

How to tame 2 cockatiels
Image source: Pixabay

This means your new cockatiel might lose interest in you altogether. 

After all, they have a new bird friend.

Why would they want to be tamed and become friends with a human?

Try to tame and bond with the new cockatiel before introducing them to your other feathered friends.

Related: How To Safely Introduce a New Bird To Your Flock

10. Begin Target Training Inside The Cage (After Taming)

After a while, you’ll notice that your cockatiel is beginning to trust you.

Or at least they will no longer be afraid of you.

That’s great progress!

Now you can begin teaching “target training” to them.

Basically, you’ll be teaching them to touch a target in exchange for a reward.

The reason why you should start with “target training” is because you can use that to lead into more complex tricks, such as stepping up and flying to you.

Here’s another reason:

You can start teaching it even while your cockatiel is inside the cage.

Go through my target training guide to learn how to do it.

Tame a young cockatiel
Arthur the cockatiel training

4 Things To AVOID While Taming a Cockatiel

Alright, we’ve just covered 10 tips you can use to tame a cockatiel.

While it’s important that you do things that increase your cockatiel’s trust in you, it’s equally vital to ensure you aren’t doing things that make your bird hate you.

Believe me, it’s VERY easy to make mistakes during the taming period.

With that said, below are 4 things you MUST avoid doing while taming your bird.

1. Avoid GRABBING Your Untamed Cockatiel

This is just common sense. 

If you want your cockatiel to trust you, grabbing or picking them up will do the complete opposite. Most cockatiels are not how you see them on the internet. 

(Video of bird being grabbed)

Some birds don’t mind being grabbed like this, but most hate it.

They especially don’t like being touched by strangers. 

Some might let you do it once they’re tamed, but that’s unlikely.

In general, it’s best to avoid grabbing altogether.

2. Don’t Do Anything Predatory 🦁

Cockatiels are natural prey animals.

In the wild, they get picked off by predators, such as hawks, relatively easily. 

This means they don’t like to feel as if they’re being preyed upon, especially by big creatures like us humans. 

Predatory behaviour can include:

  • Towering above them
  • Making fast movements towards them
  • Grabbing or trying to touch them
  • Intense and silent staring (like a lion stalking its prey)

Avoid acting like you’re hunting your new feathered friend.

Cockatiels are smart and they pick up on these things.

3. Don’t Allow Your Cockatiel To Sit Alone For Days

There’s a bird-taming myth I sometimes see floating around on the internet.

This myth spreads like wildfire on forums like Reddit.

The taming myth is that it’s a good idea to leave your newly adopted cockatiel alone in a room for a few days.

People think it’s a good idea because “it gives the bird a chance to get used to the environment”.

While they would certainly get used to the environment…

They would not be developing any trust in you.

They would like your home but not you.   

That’s not what you want.

Instead, your cockatiel should get used to you and your home at the same time.

That’s the best way to approach taming a cockatiel.

how to tame a cockatiel
Image source: Unsplash

4. Don’t Force ANY Interactions. EVER.

The worst thing you can do before your bird trusts you is force interactions.

Trying to touch them…

Trying to pet their heads…

Or even chasing your cockatiel around with a treat.

Those are all FORCED interactions.

Interactions that your bird doesn’t want to be a part of, but you’re forcing it onto them.

Ensure that you’re respectful of your bird’s boundaries and whether or not they want to interact with you.

Otherwise, they won’t trust you at all.

In fact, they’d probably begin to fear you or just not like you.

What To Do When You Bring Home a New Cockatiel

Taming a cockatiel is a delicate process.

You must carefully take strategic actions if you want your new feathered friend to actually be your companion. 

Here’s what you should do as soon as you bring home a new cockatiel:

  • Get them into the cage (that you’ve already set up) WITHOUT forcing them into it
  • Serve food and water
  • Start building trust using the tips covered above immediately  
  • Avoid doing any of the things that destroy any hopes of your bird trusting you (grabbing, being predatory, rattling the cage, etc.)

If you do these things…

And if you follow the 10 taming tips listed above…

AND you avoid doing anything that breaks the relationship…

You will eventually tame this cockatiel and set them up to be your friendly companion for a long time.

FAQs (Taming a Cockatiel)

Before ending this article, I’d first like to answer some frequently asked questions about how to tame a cockatiel. Reading the answers to these FAQs will give you some extra insight into dealing with specific situations.

How Long Do Cockatiels Take To Tame?

It depends on the individual cockatiel and their experiences with humans.

An adult/older cockatiel who has been through human abuse will need more time to tame compared to a young cockatiel that hasn’t even been given to its first owners yet.

On the flip side of that same coin…

Adult cockatiels who were treated well by past owners are usually trusting of new people. 

Baby cockatiels fresh out of their eggs are also very easy to tame.

tame baby cockatiels
Image source: “The Great Trio” on Flickr

What Should I Do If My Untamed Cockatiel Bites Me?

In most cases, it’s YOUR fault if your untamed cockatiel bites. 

I know this isn’t the answer you wanted to hear.

But it’s true.

Since they’re untamed and therefore not trusting of your hands, you shouldn’t have your hands close enough to the bird for them to bite in the first place. 

Respect your cockatiel’s boundaries at all times.

How Do I Tame a Cockatiel That Is Scared

Patience and care is the key to dealing with fearful cockatiels.

If you’re taming your cockatiel and come across fearful behaviour, you should back away to figure out what caused that fearful response.

A certain household item near their cage could be the culprit.

Or YOU could be scaring your cockatiel.

It’s pretty obvious if you’re the source of your cockatiel’s fear.

Avoid doing anything that you know would scare a little bird.

If you still struggle with fearful behaviour while taming, keep following the advice in this article and your cockatiel will eventually learn that there is nothing to be afraid of.

Read Next: 12 Ways To Quickly Bond With New Cockatiels



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