Cockatiels are known to be sociable, friendly, and affectionate pet parrots. Cockatiels are also a very vocal parrot species.
These birds often seem to develop specific calls or greetings that they use for their human owners. Many cockatiel keepers report hearing their birds call for them using particular sounds or vocalizations.
While cockatiels and people cannot talk using a common language, this behavior often prompts the question of whether cockatiels recognize their owners.
What do you think? Decide for yourself after reading this article!
Do Cockatiels Recognize Their Owners
As VetStreet explains, cockatiels are able to recognize their owners in multiple ways.
Cockatiels have a keen vision and can recognize their owners based on sight. But cockatiels have equally keen ears and can also learn to recognize their humans based on hearing.
Watch Cockatiel Bonding With Owner
In this sweet and heart-warming YouTube video, you can watch a pet cockatiel seek out affection from its owner.
While human-imprinted, hand-raised cockatiels are very likely to exhibit this type of behavior, aviary-born, and bred cockatiels are more apt to be fearful or standoffish with people.
Cockatiel Personality Can Change From One Bird to the Next
Precious Cockatiels Aviary points out that not all cockatiels have the same exact personality type.
In the same way that puppies, kittens, and people can grow up to be outgoing or introverted, social or shy, chatty or quiet, cockatiels can also exhibit different traits based on their birth order, diet, handling, and other factors.
As well, female cockatiels are often said to be less vocal overall, which may not always hold true but is consistent with the male bird’s role in the wild of pursuing desirable mates.
This means that while one cockatiel may put on a noisy display when they see their owner, another cockatiel may simply move quietly closer. This doesn’t mean that one bird recognizes their owner and the other does not.
It simply means that each cockatiel develops its own way of acknowledging its owner and interacting.
In the Wild, Cockatiels Pairs Mate for Life
As Bird Watching points out, wild cockatiels have been observed to mate for life.
A cockatiel adult can take a long time to select a mate and both cockatiel parents share equally in incubating the eggs and raising the baby birds.
Being a cockatiel mate is a big commitment and one that the birds take very seriously.
However, when a cockatiel is in captivity and living the pet birdlife, that bird may transfer this genetic tendency to form a strong, lifelong pair bond to their human keeper.
One reason cockatiels are such popular pet parrots for families is that the cockatiel is typically capable of forming strong bonds with multiple humans in the family unit.
But cockatiels are still capable of singling out one person in the family to be their “special” person.
A cockatiel who has bonded strongly with a human is likely to display some or all of the classic pair-bonding behaviors they would engage in with a cockatiel mate.
Allo-preening (asking for feather preening and offering it in return) is one common way that pairs bond and deepens their connection.
And since bonded cockatiel pairs typically do everything together, don’t be surprised if your cockatiel wants to be with you all the time! If you leave the room, your cockatiel will likely call for you over and over until you come back.
Can a Rehomed Cockatiel Learn to Recognize and Bond With a New Owner
Cockatiels may be small in size but they can have a surprisingly long lifespan, often living into the 20s or even 30s.
As Parrot Forums points out, this can sometimes result in a cockatiel pet being relinquished when the owner has a change in the situation or changes their mind about being a bird owner.
Now that you know wild cockatiels typically mate for life, you will easily understand how this type of situation could be very emotionally stressful for a bonded cockatiel.
The cockatiel has essentially lost its flock – their family unit. Here, it is important to recognize that cockatiels are smart and sensitive and feel the loss of a mate or surrogate human partner very keenly.
The good news is that with time, patience and gentle handling, a rehomed or rescued cockatiel usually has the ability to develop an equally deep (or even deeper) bond with its new human carer.
Some cockatiels that are rescued and rehomed will develop these bonds right away after they have settled in with their new family. For other cockatiels, especially those that may have experienced abuse or neglect in their past, it may take more time.
Once a cockatiel trusts you and chooses you, it is completely worth any amount of wait time you have to go through. You will then have an avian best friend for life who will prize your company above all others.
How to Know Your Cockatiel Recognizes You
The International Association of Avian Behavior Consultants (IAABC) reports on evidence of avian bonding with humans that stretches back thousands of years.
And in fact, as Animals and Society points out, birds are the third most popular type of companion animal after dogs and cats.
This data certainly suggests that cockatiels and other companion bird species are capable of recognizing their owners and communicating that recognition – so much so that many parrot owners have a special name for their feathered companion – their “fid.”
And a pet cockatiel will return the favor by developing special mannerisms and behaviors just for its owner. However, it can take time before you begin to recognize what these behaviors are and their purpose.
Here is an overview of the most commonly reported cockatiel behaviors are from cockatiels that recognize their owners.
Cockatiels reserve a specific call for their owner
As Rehabbers Den reports, cockatiels may reserve a special call just for “their” human.
Cockatiels use specific body language to greet their owner
Cockatiel’s body language is another easy way to tell whether your cockatiel recognizes you or not.
A cockatiel that gets excited to see their person may display what many owners call “heart-shaped wings” where the bird holds their wingtips out and away from their bodies so the wings meet in the back, resembling a heart shape.
Cockatiels fly directly to their owner
If a cockatiel is flighted, which means the long flight feathers at the end of each wing tip remain intact, the bird may take off and fly directly to its owner as a means to demonstrate recognition.
Cockatiels try to preen their owner
Yet another way cockatiels may show that they recognize their owner is to try to preen them. A bonded cockatiel may try to groom arm hairs, neck hairs, or even nose hairs on their person!
Cockatiels regurgitate onto their owner
While admittedly a less enticing bonding behavior, a strongly bonded cockatiel may show that they have chosen you as their mate by regurgitating food right onto you. This is a common pair-bonding behavior – to feed one another.
Does Your Cockatiel Recognize You? How to Tell
As you learned in an earlier section here, cockatiels can exhibit very different personality traits and greeting rituals.
The key is to start noticing your cockatiel’s specific behavior, vocalizations, and body language when they see or hear you after an absence.