Why do Cockatiels like feet? (Everything You Need To Know!)

Cockatiels are obsessed with their feet and are usually impeccably groomed creatures. They take pride in keeping their feet clean and free of debris, such as skin fragments, stool matter, and leftovers from the meal they just ate. If your cockatiel is constantly pecking at his feet, it could simply be his grooming and trying to stay fresh.   

Cockatiels are well-known for meticulously preening and grooming their feathers as well as their feet.

While not every cockatiel will choose to use their feet to grasp food or eat, there is ample evidence that they do so for a variety of other purposes.

Cockatiels may use their feet to reorganize nesting materials, distribute powder for feather conditioning during preening, assist in the removal of hard keratin sheaths from pin feathers during moulting, and grasp onto a mate during breeding.

Cocktails have a habit of pecking at their  toes. If cockatiel’s foot pecking is particularly excessive or obsessive, it could be an indication of a self-mutilation habit.

Self-mutilation behaviours in cockatiels can be caused by a variety of factors, with stress being one of the most common.

If your cockatiel is stressed out from a new home, lack of human interaction, or constant noise, he may self-destruct by picking at his feet or tugging on his plumage.

Medical conditions can also play a role in these types of behaviours. Dietary issues, metabolic disorders, and allergies are just a few of the health issues that could be causing the foot picking.

In cockatiels, these issues are frequently easy to identify. Take your bird to a veterinarian right away to find out what’s causing the behaviour, whether it’s medical, emotional, or both.

What makes cockatiels eat with their feet?

Cockatiels have zygodactylous toes. Two toes face forward and two toes face backward in this position. Cockatiel feet are extremely mobile and versatile, allowing them to curl around porches, walk on flat surfaces, and grasp food and nesting materials easily.

Cockatiels have a varied diet in wild like grain, seeds, grasses, fruits, and even farmer’s crops.

Cockatiels that are foraging may use their feet to grasp and hold a food source, especially if they are trying to pick off tasty seeds or grains with their beak.  

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This is one of the reasons why scientists are still baffled as to what causes cockatiels to begin eating with their feet.

If it’s a learned behavior, the cockatiel may pick it up through trial and error or by watching other birds perform the same task because some cockatiels never even try to eat with their feet.

Many researchers believe it is less likely to be a genetic or instinctive behavior, and now this could be because they are never in a situation where they need to use their feet to access available food sources. Or it’s possible that they’ve never seen another cockatiel use their feet to hold their food.

According to the survey, just over 30 percent of survey respondents said that all of their cockatiels ate with or grasped their food with their feet and nearly 40 percent of respondents said their pet cockatiels never used their feet to grasp food or eat.

What are common cockatiel diseases?

Cockatiels, like all birds, are very good at concealing their illness. Predators will target the sick and the weak, so this is a self-preservation mechanism. If your cockatiel appears ill, you should assume that the cockatiel is seriously ill and his health will deteriorate quickly unless appropriate medication is given.

You will become familiar with your cockatiel’s normal behavior and will be able to spot anything out of the ordinary if you observe it on a daily basis.

The following are some things to look out for as possible indicators of disease or illness, and a veterinarian may be required.

Watch out for the following symptoms of illness

  • Appetite loss
  • an appearance that is fluffed up and untidy
  • unusual excrement
  • excessive plucking or picking of feathers
  • atypical sleeping pattern (continuous, both feet on the perch when normally one foot is tucked up, head tucked under the wing, head turned towards the wing with eyes only partly closed)
  • any deviation from normal activities ( talking or whistling, playing with toys, preening, interaction with other birds or humans, energy levels, different perching areas)
  • disorientation
  • consuming significantly more water than usual

Diseases and Health Issues Cockatiels are prone to the following illnesses:


The most common deficiencies seen in seed junkies are vitamin A and calcium deficiency. Because seeds contain more fat than many other foods, many seed eaters are also obese.  


Obese birds are more prone to arthritis and fatty liver diseases                        

Chronic Depression, Weight loss, Respiratory Problem

Aspergillosis (fungal disease), bacterial infections, nutritional deficiencies (Hypovitaminosis A), Psittacosis (Parrot Fever), mycoplasma infections, and inhaled toxins are all possibilities.

Foreign Body Ingestion

Foreign Body Ingestion / Lead Poisoning can cause a variety of symptoms, including seizures, frequent urination, vomiting, and depression.

Reproductive Problems

Excessive egg-laying, egg-binding, and egg-peritonitis are examples of reproductive issues.


Wing Tumors / Xanthomas may necessitate amputation of the wing.

What symptoms does a cockatiel exhibit when they have a foot problem?

The feet of a cockatiel is delicate. Maintaining the health of your cockatiel’s feet requires regular exercise, good nutrition, and a clean environment. Deformed nails, fungus infections on the feet, and sores can all result from a lack of proper care. Mites, as well as a Vitamin A deficiency, can harm your cockatiel’s feet.

Clean perches once a week to avoid bacteria from droppings infecting your cockatiels’ feet.

Keep an eye out for overgrown nails, and if in doubt, have your cockatiel’s nails examined by an avian veterinarian. Anyone who has long nails understands how painful it is to bend or break one.

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If a nail is damaged in a cockatiel, it can cause the same pain and If you are not an expert on cockatiels, it is always best to have your avian vet trim the nails.

If your cockatiel’s hair is cut too short, it can quickly bleed to death. Your cockatiel will not be harmed if a nail does not grow back for some reason.


Cockatiels are foot-obsessed creatures with immaculate grooming. They take pride in keeping their feet clean and free of debris like skin fragments, stool matter, and leftovers from their last meal. Your cockatiel may be grooming himself and trying to stay fresh by pecking at his feet all the time.