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Why Do Cockatiel Feathers Look Bad? Make It Look Good Again

Why Do Cockatiel Feathers Look Bad

Cockatiels’ Feathers are an important parameter of their wellness. The feathers of your pet cockatiel must always look lustrous, bright, and healthy, and they should preen their feathers meticulously. If some exceptions happen, it’s natural that you will be anxious.

Why do cockatiel feathers look bad? How to make it look good again? Bad looking cockatiel feathers may have been caused by molting, parasites, feather diseases, and hormonal imbalance. Their bad habits and nutritional deficiencies could also be responsible. Proper diet, hygiene, and regular visit to the vet for checkups can ensure healthy and beautiful feathers for your cockatiel.

In this article, we are going to provide a detailed discussion about cockatiel feathers’ problems and their cure. Thus, stay tuned if you are concerned about these aspects.

What Causes Cockatiel Feathers to Look Bad? How to Make It Look Good Again?

What Causes Cockatiel Feathers to Look Bad

If you want to see everything in one place, here’s a table that sums up the different feather issues in cockatiels, why they happen, and how you can help to make them look good again. Check it out.

Types of feather problems ReasonsSolutions 
Allergies Food issues
Chemicals of cleaners, household products 
Isolating the irritant.
Visit a vet.
BaldnessSelf-plucking or plucking by another cockatiel
Mineral deficiency
Hormonal imbalance
Psittacine beak
Feather mites 
Consulting a vet
BleedingWhile growing new feathers.The broken end of the feather has to be held tightly for ten minutes.
Once the bleeding stops, visit a vet.
Infection of follicles 
It needs surgical intervention to remove cysts
Fat tumorsThyroid gland conditions.
Poor diet
Improved diet
Additional exercise
Iodine supplements
In severe cases, surgery is needed.
Frayed feathersMineral deficiency Providing access for your cockatiel to a mineral block
Mineral supplements
Plucking feathersStress and boredom
Mating hormone
Liver disease or cancer
Bacterial or fungal Infection
Bad habits
Giving a bath to your cockatiel.
Nutritional supplements
Fit a collar
Stress barsTemperature fluctuations
Dietary issue
Emotional stress
Arrange the cage to minimize any contact with your birds with the things in the case during their panicked moment.

Cockatiel Feathers Look Bad: Causes Explained

There might be numerous reasons for tattered feathers on a cockatiel, as discussed in the table. But more or less, they fall into the following categories, so take a look at these.

Cockatiel Feathers Look Bad

1. Molting

During the period of molt, old and worn out features are shed to pave the way for new ones. The process takes a few weeks to complete, so until it finishes completely, you may find your cockatiel feathers untidy and disordered. But all you have to do is wait a few days until it completes.

See also:  Training Cockatiels: How to Teach a Cockatiel to Do Tricks?

However, partial molting or abnormal molting can really make things look ugly. In such cases, not all the feathers of your tiel grow adequately. They could even be left with bad-looking bald patches. Since it indicates an underlying health condition, you should take your bird to the vet immediately. 

2. Improper care

Healthy feather growth requires proper care of your cockatiel. You should be aware of how taxing feather growth can be on your bird’s body. Thus, you need to provide them with a proper diet. 

Moreover, if you want to keep your cockatiel’s feathers excellent year-round, bathing and grooming them regularly is the basic point. However, you don’t need to brush them since they can do it on their own through a process known as preening.

3. Stopped Preening

Birds are baked with the combination of the beak, foot, and an innate behavior to adjust almost every feather on the body. The process is called preening. If a bird stops preening, it may have messy-looking feathers. Birds only stop preening when they’re suffering from illness or feeling severely uncomfortable. So whenever you notice they’ve stopped preening, take them to the vet.

4. Behavioral reasons

In the wild, parents cockatiel teach their young how to take self-care of their feathers. They enlighten them about how to bathe, how to preen, how to get proper vitamins for feather growth, and other essential aspects of feather care. 

But captive pet birds aren’t aware of those mandatory behaviors. So, you need to train them to take proper care of their feathers on their own. 

5. Feathers Plucked

Cockatiels sometimes pluck their own feathers, which is an abnormal thing and is probably caused by stress-related issues. If your tiel is bored, alone, scared, uncomfortable, or frustrated about mating, it may be plucking its own feathers and making them look ugly.

However, if another bird is present around them or in their cage, they might indulge in a fight and start pecking, which refers to plucking each other’s feathers. So make sure your cockatiels feathers aren’t plucked by the bird itself or others.

6. Medical reasons

There are multiple medical reasons for your cockatiel having poor feathers. That’s why you need to visit the vet on a routine basis. Below are some common causes why your cockatiel might have poor feathers:

Indeed, you have to give your bird proper nutrition and keep up with the annual wellness examination of your bird. These routine wellness check-ups will ensure your bird is healthy, happy, and strong enough to grow healthy and beautiful feathers.

See also:  Why Is My Cockatiel Grinding Its beak? How To Help?

If you wish to learn a bit more, check out this:

What Do the Feathers of A Healthy Cockatiel Look Like?

So what does a healthy feather of the cockatiel should like. Firstly, they should be dense, evenly distributed, and contain a natural color. The original color of their body is grey. However, The color differs between male and female cockatiels.

What Do the Feathers of A Healthy Cockatiel Look Like
Female CockatielsThey have light grey color feathers all over their body. Besides, the feathers on their head and faces are brighter and more colorful. 
They have some light red feathers on their chin. Additionally, tails, legs, wings, and abdomen include some light yellow color “barred” or “dots”.
Male CockatielFeathers of male Cockatiels have a darker color. His face is mostly bright yellow. 
A bright red color can be seen in their chin area. Also, feathers below the tail and wing area are somewhat different from the female ones.

How to Take Care of a Cockatiel’s Feathers?

 You must have to follow these for taking proper care of their feathers. This will prevent further serious feather problems. Those are

How to Take Care of a Cockatiel's Feathers
  1. Scheduled wellness checkups of your birds.
  2. Teach your bird important skills such as
  • How to bathe on their own.
  • Reinforcing normal preening
  • Improve dietary intake by training them on how to eat vegetables.
  1. Make sure your cockatiel is having enough sleep every night.
  2. Encourage foraging activities. This will keep them busy and their mind off excessive preening and plucking.
  3. Sun Basking your bird for at least 20 minutes a day

Essential Nutrients for Healthy Growth of Cockatiel Feathers 

Essential Nutrients for Healthy Growth of Cockatiel Feathers 

Heth feather growth requires 8 essential nutrients:

Vitamin-A: Helps to produce sebum which keeps their skin moisturized. This allows healthy feather growth.

Vitamin B: Plays an important role in the synthesis of red blood cells and metabolism. This breaks down the carbohydrates and fats which remove the dullness of feathers.

Vitamin C & E supports their feather follicles. This is essential for growing beautiful feathers.

Vitamin D: Vitamin D is very efficient in eliminating baldness.

Zinc: Maintains the health of oil glands surrounding follicles, and keeps the system moisturized and functioning. Also, repairs the broken feathers.

Iron: Helps in boosting blood flow to pin feathers. Thus, these grow faster.

Amino acids: It provides protein to molting cocktails which are very essential for them. Extra protein is necessary for cocktails for growing strong feathers.


We’re not done just yet. In this section, we’ll address some of the most common queries people have regarding the matter.

1. Why Do Cockatiel Feathers Fall Out?

Cockatiel Feathers can fall out for various reasons. The most common reasons are normal or abnormal molting, feather diseases, destructive behavior, and stress. 
Moreover, excessive preening by their parents or cage mates can also cause their feathers to fall out. Besides, numerous bacterial and viral infections are also responsible for falling out of feathers.

2. Is it Normal For Cockatiels to Lose Feathers?

Yes. Every cockatiel goes through a molting period. This is a natural process of shedding old feathers and growing back new feathers.
Thus, if your cockatiel only loses a feather here and there that’s normal. But, if your bird loses a lot of feathers all the time, then it might be having some health issues.

3. How Often Do Cockatiels Shed Feathers?

A cockatiel can lose a few features all around the year. But, massive feathers shedding occurs only during molt. They start their adult molt within 6-12 months of their age.
Depending on the bird and the weather, this phenomenon varies. Generally, they shed feathers once or twice a year.


So, why do cockatiel feathers look bad? How to make it look good again? Cockatiels are beautiful birds, but for various reasons, their feathers may turn messy. Their unhealthy-looking feathers may also indicate serious health issues. Therefore, you must be aware of these issues if you have a cockatiel as a pet.

In this article, we tried to eliminate all of your dilemmas regarding why your cockatiel’s feathers may not be looking good. We hope you can now take proper care of your pet bird and also of yourself!


Peter Kaestner

Hi there, my name is Peter Kaestner and I am the owner of As a avid bird watcher and enthusiast with a passion for ornithology, I want to share my knowledge and experience with other bird lovers through this blog. As someone who regularly participates in bird-related forums and groups online, I am dedicated to helping others learn more about these amazing creatures. However, it's important to note that while I am happy to share my expertise and advice, it is always crucial to consult with an avian veterinarian before making any decisions that could potentially impact your bird's health or well-being. Your bird's health and happiness should always be your top priority, and consulting with a professional is the best way to ensure that you are making informed decisions on their behalf. I hope that through my blog, I can help make a positive difference in the lives of birds and the people who care for them. Whether you are an experienced bird owner or just starting out, I encourage you to use this resource as a way to learn more about these fascinating animals and how to provide them with the best possible care.View Author posts