Cockatiel Hissing: What This Sound Means & What To Do

Cockatiels are very vocal parrots. As a flocking species in their native Australia, cockatiels use sound for communication.

Often, that communication is taking place in the midst of a noisy flock of many birds. So many sounds that cockatiels make are quite loud.

But the cockatiel hissing sound is not a loud sound. Actually, it is one of the softest sounds that cockatiels make.

However, don’t make the mistake of assuming the low volume level of a cockatiel hiss means it isn’t a serious sound. Cockatiel’s hissing is very serious!

In this article, we will talk about why cockatiels hiss, what the hiss sounds like and what to do if your cockatiel hisses at you.

Cockatiel Hissing

Cockatiel hissing sounds pretty much like what you might expect – a snake hiss but coming from your bird instead.

Hissing is a softer sound. If you make the “sssssss” sound, this is about as close as a human being can get to sounding like a cockatiel hiss.

Listen to a Cockatiel Hissing

Cockatiels hiss for all kinds of reasons. In this YouTube video, you can watch and listen to a female cockatiel hissing because she is defending an area in her cage that she is nesting in.

We will talk much more about the reasons why your cockatiel might hiss in the rest of this article.

Reasons for Cockatiel Hissing

You just watched a female cockatiel hissing because she is nesting in a certain area of her cage and she wants everyone else to stay out.

What are some of the other reasons why you might hear cockatiel hissing from your own bird? Let’s find out!

Your cockatiel hisses because they are scared

Perhaps the number one reason you might hear cockatiel hissing coming from your own bird is that something is scaring your cockatiel.

What could scare a cockatiel?

Cockatiels in the wild are a small prey species with relatively few ways to defend themselves against larger, more aggressive predators. Beak, claws, wings for escape, and vocalizations such as screaming and hissing are how they try to stay safe.

Cockatiels in a captive setting might hiss at all kinds of things that make them feel like they are being preyed upon.

Shadows during certain times of day, loud sounds, sudden drafts, the appearance of the family cat or dog, even presentation of an object they don’t recognize – all of these and more might prompt a warning hiss.

Your cockatiel hisses because they are hormonal

In the YouTube video you watched here earlier, you saw a female cockatiel hissing because she was hormonal.

As Animal Diversity explains, in a wild setting, cockatiels typically become hormonal after the spring rains. This is when they will seek a mate and start to nest and breed.

This is also the time when cockatiels will need to defend their nesting site from other cockatiel couples and other bird and animal species who may want to take it.

And in captivity, cockatiels will still tend to become hormonal when the daylight hours are longer and temperatures are warmer.

But in an indoor setting, a cockatiel could potentially become hormonal at any time of year since these natural seasonal changes are less evident.

Both female and male cockatiels get hormonal and both genders will express this with certain behaviors, including posturing and hissing.

Your cockatiel hisses because they are defending their territory

Cockatiels are not known to be a particularly territorial parrot species unless they are nesting.

However, as this Reddit owner thread exhibits, many cockatiel owners see their cockatiels getting territorial with their cages or favorite hiding places.

Cockatiels who are living indoors in a captive setting are less likely to experience the natural ebb and flow of seasonal rains or daylight hours to cue mating and territorial display behaviors.

For a pet cockatiel, all year long may feel like the right time to get territorial, especially if there are other pet birds that are trying to invade “their” special areas.

Your cockatiel hisses because they are competing for mates

Cockatiels will compete for mates just like many other bird species do. In fact, it is not enough to simply put a male and female cockatiel together and wait for eggs!

As Bird Watching Blog explains, wild cockatiels are one of the parrot species that often take some time to select a mate. Once two cockatiels have chosen each other, they often mate for life!

ResearchGate points out that mate compatibility is essential for successful breeding in the wild and in captivity.

All of this means that cockatiels can and do compete for mates, even within a pet or aviary setting.

Hissing is one of the ways that male cockatiels will compete to repel other male cockatiels who want their desired mate. Female cockatiels may hiss to send undesirable mates away.

And once the pair is established and nesting, both male and female cockatiels will hiss at anyone (including their owner) who tries to approach their nesting site.

What to Do If Your Cockatiel Hisses

Cockatiels may hiss for all of these reasons and many more. When your cockatiel hisses, what you need to know is that your bird is trying to communicate a very specific message.

It will up to you to decide what that message is and how to respond. You can use these steps to decide what to do if you hear cockatiel hissing.

Step 1: Look around and see what might be causing your bird to hiss

If your cockatiel suddenly hisses, it is never for no reason. Look around to see what in your immediate vicinity might have caused it.

For example, during certain times of day, shadows may easily mimic the approach of a predator or rival and cause your bird to hiss.

Step 2: Make adjustments to ease your bird’s fear or concern

Many cockatiel owners notice behavioral changes when their cockatiels become sexually mature, which usually happens at or around the age of nine months old.

If this is the reason your cockatiel is hissing, the key is to remove or full any secluded areas where your bird might decide to nest (such as what you saw in the YouTube video you watched here earlier).

Changing the location of your bird’s cage to minimize shadows or drafts can also help to ease fears and minimize hissing.

During training, you might notice that a certain toy or training tool induces fearful hissing. If this is the case, try choosing a different training approach that doesn’t scare your cockatiel.

Step 3:Consider scheduling a “well bird” veterinary exam

Because cockatiels are small and delicate parrots, you may not realize that your bird is actually frightened by the way you approach or handle them.

Cockatiels may hiss because they don’t want to come out of (or go back into) their cage, leave a favorite toy or hiding place, stop eating, or some other reason.

But cockatiels may also hiss if they are hurt, sick, or in pain. So if your efforts to ease your cockatiel’s hissing behavior do not work, it is definitely time to bring your bird to the avian veterinarian for a check-up.

A small prey species like the cockatiel will do its best to hide any signs of weakness. Your veterinarian can determine if your bird needs medical care to feel better and stop hissing.

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