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Depressed and Sad Cockatiel? Here’s How To Make It Happy?

Depressed and Sad Cockatiel

Like humans, cockatiels also have several feel-good hormones, including dopamine and serotonin. Therefore, when the levels of these hormones are affected, your bird could become unhappy and depressed. This leads us to the question; how do you make a depressed and sad cockatiel happy?

One of the best ways to make your bird happy is to keep it stimulated throughout to prevent boredom. You can do this by providing it with a variety of toys. Other ways include:

  • Keeping its birdcage clean
  • Getting a companion bird
  • Offering a varied diet
  • Giving your bird maximum attention

But wait; how do you tell your bird is unhappy or depressed? You can learn this and much more in our guide below. 

Do Cockatiels Get Sad And Depressed?

Yes. Like humans, cockatiels and other avian birds also have neurotransmitters or hormones in the brain, like serotonin and dopamine. These hormones affect your bird’s feelings of happiness.

For instance, serotonin helps regulate your bird’s mood, anxiety, and aggression. When the serotonin levels are normal, your cockatiel will feel happier. However, low levels of this hormone may make your bird sad and depressed.

Do Cockatiels Get Sad And Depressed

Similarly, low dopamine levels can make your cockatiel feel moody and depressed. This is because this hormone is responsible for making your bird feel good. 

What Makes A Cockatiel Sad And Depressed?

Now that you know cockatiels do get sad and even depressed, perhaps you might want to know what causes all this. Check them out.

What Makes A Cockatiel Sad And Depressed


Cockatiels need lots of mental stimulation and various daily enrichments to prevent boredom. When your bird is bored, it may engage in destructive behavior like biting cage bars which is a sign of depression.

Losing a mate or a companion

Like humans, a cockatiel will also mourn the death of a mate. During this period, your bird will go through a lot of sadness which could lead to depression.


Your cockatiel can become depressed because of an illness or injury. This is especially true if the injury or illness is left untreated for extended periods.

Abrupt routine change

When your bird is used to sleeping or feeding at certain times, changing its routine abruptly can significantly affect its mood. Also, suddenly changing the birdcage position can throw your bird’s mood off. 

Sad Cockatiel

Temperature changes

A drastic drop or rise in temperatures could also stress your cockatiel. Your bird will get uncomfortable and even depressed due to the high and cold temperatures.

Unsanitary conditions

Keeping your cockatiel in unsanitary environments like a dirty cage could make it sad and depressed. These conditions could also lead to various health issues in your bird.

How To Tell Your Cockatiel Is Sad And Depressed 

Your cockatiel can get sad or suffer from depression for many reasons. But what are signs to look out for to determine whether or not your bird is depressed.? Let’s find out.

How To Tell Your Cockatiel Is Sad And Depressed

1. Feather plucking and self-mutilation

Your cockatiel will start plucking its feathers and eat into its own skin tissue when depressed and sad. Unlike feather plucking, self-mutilation is a life-threatening disorder where the bird can peck himself badly, causing severe injury. 

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Boredom can trigger this issue. Check out this video of a cockatiel plucking its feathers.

2. Decreased appetite and regurgitation

A cockatiel is more likely to experience reduced appetite and vomiting when sick. However, if your bird is stressed and depressed because of being in a new environment, it may refuse to eat.

3. Sudden behavior change

Some behavior changes may be due to hormonal issues. However, if your cockatiel starts acting aggressively, biting, or screaming, it could be suffering from chronic depression.

4. Irritability

It is usual for your cockatiel to be moody once in a while, especially when molting. But if you notice your bird suffering from excessive irritability, your cockatiel could be depressed or unhappy.

5. Head bobbing

Your cockatiel may bob its head for different reasons, including as a sign of happiness, anger, and when mating. When sad or depressed, your bird may also shake its head with the feathers puffed out and the crest standing up.

Cockatiel Head bobbing

6. Stress bars on feathers

Another sign your cockatiel could be unhappy and depressed is stress bars on their feathers. The stress bars are black lines in the form of a cross on a bird’s feathers. These lines develop due to your bird being exposed to high-stress levels, anxiety, or an illness.  

7. Lethargy and loss of interest in toys

Cockatiels are generally active and playful birds. So, if you notice any signs of inactivity or sudden loss of interest in its toys, your bird could be sick or depressed. 

How To Make Depressed and Sad Cockatiel Happy

If you think your cockatiel could be unhappy and depressed, there are many effective ways to cheer up your bird. These include:

How To Make Depressed and Sad Cockatiel Happy

1. Consult an avian vet

One of the reasons your cockatiel could be sad and depressed could be because it is sick. So, you must see an avian vet to rule out any illness. The vet should do a complete check-up on your pet bird.

2. Offer a variety of toys

One way to make your depressed and sad cockatiel happy is by providing various colorful toys. The toys such as ropes, swings, bells, balls, beads, and ladders will stimulate the bird, reducing boredom. However, you must not let your bird play with the same toy for long.

3. Make time for your bird

Cockatiels are social birds. Therefore, you need to socialize with your bird daily for its emotional and psychological well-being. Your bird will be happy if you find time to play with it and teach it a few tricks.  

4. Get a companion bird

If you only have one cockatiel, you can add another bird. A companion bird will make your cockatiel feel safer and calmer. Also, your cockatiel will be happier and less bored since it will have a partner to play with. You can put them in separate cages initially unless they get familiar with each other.

Get a companion bird

5. Allow enough playtime out of the cage

Ideally, your cockatiel should not spend the entire day in its cage. You must let the bird out for at least 2 hours daily to stretch its wings and exercise. Also, your cockatiel will be happy if you take it outdoors to experience different smells, sounds, and sights.

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6. Place the cage in a comfortable spot

Check the position of your cockatiel’s birdcage. If the cage is near a window or outside the door, move it away to protect it from rapid temperature changes. 

7. Clean the cage

Your bird can get depressed and sick from living in a dirty cage. Therefore, regularly cleaning its enclosure is the best way to make your cockatiel happy. Make sure to change the cage liner, remove leftover foods, and wipe down the cage surfaces.

8. Feed your bird a balanced diet & give occasional treats

A healthy cockatiel is a happy bird. Therefore, ensure that your bird has a varied diet comprising fresh fruits, vegetables, and seed mixes. Also, give your bird a variety of healthy treats but in moderation. 

Can A Depressed And Sad Cockatiel Die?

No. However, chronic depression and unhappiness can affect your cockatiel’s physical and immune systems. For instance, your bird may lose a lot of weight or suffer from nutritional deficiencies when depressed because of eating less.

Additionally, your cockatiel may permanently damage its feather follicles due to constant self-mutilation and feather picking. As a result, new feathers may not grow, and the skin could become scarred.

Can A Depressed And Sad Cockatiel Die

If you have a sad and depressed female cockatiel, it may have problems laying eggs. Your bird could even suffer from egg-binding, in which your cockatiel cannot expel the egg from the body.


Before we conclude our guide, let’s look at frequently asked queries regarding how to make a sad and depressed cocktail happy.

1. Do cockatiels feel sad in the cage?

No, as long as the birdcage is spacious and your cockatiels don’t spend all their time locked inside, they’re fine. Typically, cockatiels view their cage as safe places where they play, eat, and sleep without worrying about potential predators.

2. What do cockatiels do when sad and depressed?

Your cockatiel may exhibit a sudden change of behavior, like biting and screaming. In addition, the bird may engage in feather-picking and suffer from reduced appetite.

3. What do prolonged depression and sadness in cockatiels lead to?

If your bird is sad and depressed for an extended period, this could lead to various self-destructive behaviors like self-mutilation. Your cockatiel’s overall health may also be affected. 


A cockatiel can get depressed and sad for many reasons, including inadequate stimulation, sickness, and extreme temperature changes. The good news? There are many signs to look out for to be sure your bird is depressed. 

Even better, there are several ways to make your sad and depressed cockatiel happy, like offering plenty of toys, introducing a companion, or giving occasional treats.


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