All living things have mechanisms to survive on different occasions like to warm and cool their bodies. For birds, you often see them puffing up their wings, a habit that cockatiel owners might have noticed. However, why do they do that?
So, why do cockatiels puff up their feathers? Cockatiels puff up their feathers for various reasons, including as a defensive mechanism, to keep warm, and preen. In rare cases, your bird might be sick. If you suspect the bird is fluffing to keep warm, you can help by regulating room temperature.
Your pet bird can fluff up for many reasons, which pet owners should perceive. Read on to learn how you can help your pet with this habit.
Why Do Cockatiels Puff Up?
As you might have noticed with various birds, feathers are some of their most crucial parts of a bird. Most people assume the only role of feathers is for flying, which is half true since some flightless birds possess some. Birds also use feathers to keep warm, camouflage, and maintain balance, among other things. To continue functioning efficiently, birds develop various mechanisms like fluffing, and your cockatiels are no exception.
Avian pets like cockatiels adapt this mechanism, and you might notice them puffing up regularly. As bewildering as it may look, fluffing is normal to birds. Below are various reasons why your cockatiel might puff up its feathers.
1. Provide Insulation
As nomadic birds back in Australia, cockatiels face different weather conditions in their search for food and water. During the low-temperature seasons, the birds fluff up their wings to create air pockets. As endothermic animals, when their bodies produce heat, which is trapped within the pockets to keep warm. If the temperatures are low in your cockatiel room, it is likely to puff up.
2. To preen
Birds spend most of their resting time in maintenance behaviors which include preening. To preen, birds use their beaks to clean their feathers and spread preening oil from their uropygial gland. During these operations, the bird often fluffs its feathers before arranging them.
3. To Dry
Though birds’ feathers are waterproof, during a bath they get wet. To shake off the excess water, the birds puff up their feathers to let in some airflow. Afterward, if the bird is still cold, it fluffs up to keep warm
4. While anxious
As birds of prey, cockatiels feel threatened by anything that looks like a potential predator to them. As a defensive mechanism, a puffed-up cockatiel will appear bigger in an attempt to scare the attackers. If anything at home scares this feathered pet, it will fluff its wings until it feels safe.
5. While Sick
Though on rare occasions, puffed-up feathers might signify a sick cockatiel. To certainly conclude it’s a health issue, check for other symptoms like excessive sleeping and poor appetite. Most bird pets should be more active during the day and only rest during the night.
What Does It Mean When A Cockatiel Puffs Up?
When a cockatiel puffs up its feathers, it means it feels cozy and comfortable. It might also signify the bird feels sleepy and about to rest. It’s only fair to stop petting them and set them for the night.
In other cases, fluffing will mean the bird is unwell and suffering from a disease. In this case, take your pet to a vet who will check and treat it. Excess fluffing might also mean the bird feels cold, which is more likely during the winter season.
Why Do Cockatiels Fluff Up Crest Feathers?
Crest feathers are the hairs on the top of your cockatiel’s head. Like other body feathers, crest feathers can fluff up and rest for various reasons. Most times, if a cockatiel’s crest feathers rise, it shows they are anxious or curious about something.
If agitated, these pets will also fluff up their crest feathers, though not as high as when anxious. In a fair mood or while fearful, the cockatiel’s crest feathers rest on its head almost unnoticeably. To better understand crest feather fluffing, observe other body signals.
If you’re careful, you may also realize your cockatiels raise their crest feathers when focusing on something. Maybe they are watching their toys rolling, or other pets playing outside. If you recently bought them new toys, they may puff up as they try to familiarize themselves with them.
On the same note, your cockatiel may puff up its crest feathers when seeking to be petted. It’s one of the cockatiel signs of affection. They love it when you touch their heads softly, especially the male ones. Understanding their body language and general behavior should help you identify their needs.
Also read: Cockatiel Plucking Feathers
How Do You Help a Puffed-Up Cockatiel?
You can sort out some reasons why your feathery friend is puffed up. For instance, if you have a puffed up cockatiel because of cold, warm the room. A cockatiel requires temperatures between 70 – 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
But, puffing up the feathers and shaking is not always a sign that your cockatiel is feeling cold. It may also be exhibiting excessive excitement or trying to calm down. This should never be a cause for alarm unless the bird is bored and has watery eyes, which could indicate sickness.
Most psittacine birds suffer from beak and feather virus that causes chronic debilitating feather disease. If you suspect the puffing is because of a disease, quickly take it to an avian vet. Observe other signs of illness that your bird exhibits to reach this conclusion. If you’ve ruled out all normal reasons for puffing up, the only option you have is to visit your vet.
Can Excessive Fluffing Kill A Cockatiel?
Your cockatiel could die from an underlying condition, but not necessarily fluffing up. If boredom and loneliness are the reasons behind the fluffing, your cockatiel won’t die. But, if this continues, it may fall into depression, leading to death. You should get it a mate or give it enough attention such that it won’t suffer isolation.
However, excess cold can kill your cockatiel even without any underlying conditions. If the temperatures change abruptly from warm to extremely cold, it may destabilize your bird’s system. When this happens, the bird is likely to fall into a shock, fluff its feathers and die.
Although this is a rare occurrence, it still happens and you should avoid it by maintaining favorable temperatures at all times. It’s your responsibility to ensure the heater is working perfectly, mostly during winter. You don’t want to wake up to collapsed birds due to sudden shock.
Some of the activities birds do are concerning despite them looking cute. For pet lovers, this means research and questions, where most remain unanswered. In an attempt to answer some, the following are frequently asked questions and answers on this topic.
In most cases, a fluffy cockatiel is normal and represents a healthy and self-conscious bird. A happy cockatiel will fluff up its feathers, especially those on its crest. However, fluffing can also mean your bird is agitated or sick.
When temperatures drop at night or when getting cozy and ready to sleep, cockatiels puff up their feathers. By puffing, birds create air spaces where they store heat to keep warm. If you notice your pet is puffing a lot, adjust the temperature to suit it and help it feel warm.
There are things that may impart fear in your cockatiel even when in its usual environment. When this happens, you will notice the puffing up, plus the crest will also remain up. When the fear is too intense, you will hear your pet cockatiel hissing while puffing up and maintaining the crest high.
Related: Cockatiel Bite
Cockatiels can puff up their feathers for various reasons, including warming themselves. This is among their mechanisms to adjust to different weather conditions. Most of the other reasons are positive, with no great health concerns.
However, the fluffing might suggest your pet is ailing and needs medical attention. If you suspect so and have also checked other symptoms like appetite loss or excessive sleeping, take it to a vet. A cockatiel might also fluff up its head crest feathers, which can represent different emotions from anger to excitement.