Cockatiels that have been socialized to humans are small, vocal, and friendly companion birds. This is why they are the most popular pet bird in the world – second only to the budgerigar.
But not everyone loves the sound of a cockatiel chirping all day long. If this describes you and you are considering getting a cockatiel, it may be wise to choose a quieter pet instead.
In this article, we will discuss what cockatiel chirping is and what it sounds like and compare chirping to the other sounds cockatiels make.
Cockatiel Won’t Stop Chirping
Chirping is a very normal and natural sound that cockatiels make. It is typically thought to be a happy sound or at least a neutral sound.
There are other sounds, like screeching, shrieking, calling, and crying, that have specific meanings and needs attached to them.
So one of the first things you want to do is figure out if the sound your cockatiel is making is actually chirping. The next section here will help you answer this question.
Learn About Common Cockatiel Sounds and Meanings
This precious YouTube video explains some of the more common sounds you may hear your cockatiel make and gives you some ideas about their meanings.
As you and your cockatiel spend more time together, you will start to develop an ear for each different sound your bird makes and why they are making that sound.
Sometimes your cockatiel may start chirping a lot more than usual, as this thread in the popular Tailfeathers Network owner forum illustrates.
When this happens, it is always a sign to pay closer attention to your cockatiel. We will discuss this in more detail in a later section here.
Why Do Cockatiels Chirp
In a wild setting, cockatiels live in small family groups of several birds. During certain times each year, cockatiels often live in much larger flocks of hundreds of birds.
Wild cockatiels chirp to communicate, connect, send messages to other birds, and respond to messages received.
While chirping is generally regarded to be a positive, happy or neutral sound, this doesn’t mean that your cockatiel’s chirping has no meaning.
Sometimes chirping can have very specific meanings. We will review the most common cockatiel sounds and their general meanings here.
But keep in mind that until cockatiels can talk to people in our language and fully explain themselves, these are just the most common human ideas about the possible meaning of each sound.
The contact call cockatiel chirp
The contact call chirp is one of the most common sounds cockatiels make.
To an experienced set of ears, it sounds like a chirp with a question mark at the end.
To an inexperienced set of ears, it may sound like a distress call. And in fact, it is a form of distress calling, because the contact call is an attempt your bird makes to locate you or a missing mate or family member.
If your cockatiel is an “only bird,” the contact call will likely be for you. If you only hear the sound when you leave the room or move out of direct line-of-sight, this is the best indication what you are hearing is a contact call chirp.
Cockatiels typically reach sexual maturity between the age of nine and 12 months. A lone cockatiel seeking a mate will make the contact call repeatedly during the spring and summer when it gets warm and the daylight hours are longer.
The danger-danger call cockatiel chirp
In a wild setting, cockatiels live in groups where all share the responsibility to watch for potential dangers and predators.
Many cockatiel owners have heard their pet cockatiel give a sudden sharp distress call, only to look up and see a hawk wheeling around overhead, a squirrel on the telephone wires, or the neighbor’s cat approaching.
The danger-danger call chirp will typically subside as soon as the visual proof of threat passes. It is meant to warn the flock – in this case, you and any other birds in your home – of danger so you can get to safety.
The distress call cockatiel chirp
Cockatiels, like all animals (wild or pet), will typically try to hide all signs of illness, injury or weakness.
However, if something is actively causing your cockatiel pain, you may hear a loud and sustained series of shrieks that is meant to communicate severe and urgent distress.
You should never ever ignore distress call chirps because your bird may be trapped or stuck, a victim of predation by another family pet, or worse.
At night, you may hear a distress call chirps during a night fright episode, although this is not the most common symptom of night fright.
The boredom or loneliness screeching cockatiel chirp
As Cockatiel Cottage explains, cockatiels are very social as a species and intensely dislike being left alone with no one to talk to and nothing to do.
This is also a hallmark of a prey species, were being all alone taken away the reassurance and protection of the flock.
A bored or lonely cockatiel is going to scream and screech – you can count on it. Sadly, this is often both the easiest issue to fix, and the number one reason cockatiels are abused or abandoned.
The reinforced screaming cockatiel chirp
As Good Bird Inc points out, sometimes the owner unknowingly teaches their cockatiel to chirp or scream.
How could this happen? If you come running every time your cockatiel makes a sound, over time, this teaches your bird that calling constantly is a great way to get you to pay attention to them.
This is not to say the solution is to ignore your bird’s screaming. Your bird is screaming because you taught them to do that. So now you need to be actively present to teach your cockatiel the behavior you prefer.
Male Versus Female Cockatiel Chirping
Some owners and breeders will say that male cockatiels are always more vocal than female cockatiels.
But as the popular Talk Cockatiels Forum explains, it is a mistake to generalize that broadly based on gender.
Just like with people who are talkative or dogs that bark a lot, genetics and environment can play equal parts in whether an individual is louder or quieter.
Cockatiel males will often chirp and serenade once they reach sexual maturity, just like males from many other avian species. But this typically only starts to happen noticeably when it is mating and breeding season.
Cockatiels of either gender do not tend to be “talkers,” although some birds have been known to master short phrases and words. But cockatiels can become accomplished whistlers and singers.
On that note, owners who choose to teach their cockatiels to whistle songs can expect to hear a lot of whistling!
Female cockatiels may be quieter, but a scared, lonely, bored, injured, or angry cockatiel will be loud to try to solve their problem regardless of gender.
In the same way, both male and female cockatiels will vocalize and chirp more during mating and breeding season, whether they are mated or not.
What To Do If Your Cockatiel Won’t Stop Chirping
A cockatiel that chirps constantly may simply be happy and vocal. But more likely there is a problem and that is why your bird is chirping continuously.
The way to change that is to find the problem and fix it.