Learn body language:

The first step in taming your cockatiel is to find out why he/she bites. If he's cowering in the corner of his cage with his beak open, he's not yet comfortable with your presence. In many cases, this is because the humans who were around him before you were not gentle enough. He might also not be used to any human contact at all. If he's lunging at the cage bars, he is trying to assert his dominance.

Either way, it is important not to provoke them. As Esther Glickman says, birds never forget. The important thing to do is to keep a distance that is comfortable for the bird and talk to him in a low, calm voice.

Gain your bird's trust


Esther's advice

Once you know why your bird is biting (whether it's territorial or just fear), you can begin to gain his trust. If he's being possessive of his cage or food dish, as Esther says, get him away from the cage for a while. Cockatiels don't bite hard, and once he's away from his cage you can begin to build your rapport with him.

Rembrandt, my cockatiel.

If your bird bites out of fear, you want to take a different approach. Try to spend as much time as you can around the cage, never making loud noises or sudden movements. It may be a good idea to keep the bird cage in your bedroom.

Every bird is different. Some may take quite a while getting used to you. But, as I said, cockatiels are social animals. If you're patient, he will eventually come to the close side of the cage. You may be able to take him out of the cage at this point, but I would advise that you open the cage and let him come out himself, so he doesn't feel threatened. Once the bird comes out, reward him with praise and treats.

You should quietly scold your bird when he bites, but never take your hand away as if you are afraid. Birds, like most animals, do not respond well to inconfidence.