Cockatiels and Death: Dying Symptoms, Euthanasia, and More

Cockatiels are excellent in disguising their illnesses. It’s one of their survival defense mechanisms against predators when they are in the wild. 

You have to be keen observant for you to know their underlying condition, or else, it’ll be impossible for you to save them.

There are a lot of common signs that manifest if your pet bird is becoming weak or dying. Like any other bird species, cockatiel tends to hide their symptoms until their conditions worsen. Thus, medical help can be too late already.

Common symptoms of dying may involve changes in their appetite, odd appearance of their feathers and skin, unusual vomiting, dischargers from the eyes and nostrils, and other alterations in their usual behavior.

Reasons vary on the causes of cockatiels sudden death. It can be due to poisoning or toxins found in our household ware, other gases that are not advisable for your pet to be inhaled, etc.

Other than poisoning, it could be through accidents like falling from the sky, from branches, or getting bumped into a car’s mirror, and the like.

To end their suffering, some owners opt to end it peacefully that their feathered pets may feel no pain at all. And that is done through what we call euthanasia.

Here are some facts you should know about the symptoms that your cockatiel is dying, its sudden causes of death, and ways to prevent them from dying, and at the same time how to end their pain. It will also tackle how owners will dispose of their dead bodies and move on from their cockatiel’s death.

Cockatiel Dying Symptoms

How do I know if my cockatiel is dying? Here are some of the common symptoms that are indicative that your feathered pet is dying.

1. Wings Are Puffed

It is normal behavior for birds to puff up their feathers during sleep time. However, this can be a sign that your feathered pet is sick once they keep their feathers puffed up for an extended period. Your bird may have been dealing with fever or infection.

2. Poor Condition Of Feathers

The general appearance of your cockatiel’s feathers is also a manifestation of an illness, or they’re about to die. An unusual losing of feathers, scaly, and dry skin underneath can be a sign of infection. Their vibrant and colorful wings can become dull or appear discolored.

3. Having Discharges

Another symptom that they are much sick or dying is a discharge from their eyes, ears, and nostrils. These areas may also look swollen or discolored.

4. Shivering and Shaking

If your cockatiel looks like being cold, shaking, or shivering all over, this could mean that they are approaching death already. Some birds can fall or spin when they move, which appears like having seizures.

5. Loss Of Appetite

This symptom can be observed from your feathered pet the moment they refuse to eat their food, may eat less than the usual, or do not eat at all. It can also lead to losing weight. You can feel it around its chest area how significant the weight they lose.

6. Has Difficulty Breathing

This symptom can be seen through opening their mouth, moving their tail up, and stretching their neck, trying to bring more air into their system.

7. Starts To Vomit

It is a common sign that your feathered pet is not doing well with its health. Thus, it can be a manifestation of having lethal conditions. A vomiting cockatiel will tremble and make jerky head movements once the food is coming out.

8. Feels Lethargic

You can notice that your cockatiel has minimal movements or may seem too weak to move. These dying birds could be in a hunched over position or just sitting over the side of the cage instead of using the perch.

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What Is The Life Expectancy Of A Cockatiel?

If given with proper care, domesticated cockatiels can live 15 to 20 years. For the record, the oldest cockatiel lived for 29 years. However, in the wild, they can last only 10 – 14 years, given the uncertain circumstances they encountered outside.

To keep your cockatiel alive for longer years, you have to be very mindful when it comes to their good diet, proper exercise, regular check-ups, and 10-12 hours of sleep.

Cockatiel Died With Eyes Open – What Happened?

Cockatiel may die eyes open just like any other animal. Some cases of death involve one eye shut close while the other is not.

It will need active muscle control to close the eyes of every animal. Hence, the sudden death of cockatiels, such as accidents or poisoning, may not be able to close their eyes when they die. Nevertheless, it’s not uncommon to witness that.

What Would Cause A Cockatiel To Suddenly Die?

Cockatiels may die without apparent symptoms or prevailing illnesses due to the following.

1. Got Frightened Or Scared

Fear or getting scared can indirectly cause the death of a cockatiel. It does not mean that fear has biological mechanisms that kill the bird. However, the cockatiel’s reaction to fear is the reason why the cockatiel died suddenly.

When frightened at night, they can be disoriented and fly into places or bumped into high-speed objects.

2. Heavy Metal Poisoning

The most common poisoning that could affect cockatiels is zinc, lead, and copper. This zinc is known to be used for preventing cage rusting. Once ingested, it can be toxic for cockatiels.

Lead on your household products, stainless glass window, or solder in stained glass can cause weakness and seizures to cockatiels.

While the excessive presence of copper found on the water bathe of your cockatiels can cause them vomiting, jaundice, and low blood pressure. Thus, it leads them to death.

dying cockatiel

Baby Cockatiel Died Suddenly – What Happened?

Newborn cockatiels are prone to infection may it be bacterial, viral, or fungal. Putting more food on the crop, even if it’s not emptied first by your cockatiels, invites possible infection.

Also, when fed not correctly, they may die due to overfeeding or malnutrition. The diet can also be a factor because some baby cockatiels cannot sustain excessive dietary fat or protein.

Be cautious in giving too large crops in size or too many for your feathered pet to digest. Sometimes, wrong handling of their food is linked to their sudden death.

How To Comfort A Dying Cockatiel?

If things are really out of hand, the last thing you can do is comfort your dying cockatiel until their last breath. But how are you going to do that?

You can be creative in doing so. As pet owners, you want them comfort until nature does its thing. You may play mellow or soft music when your dying cockatiel is at sleep.

In a study of Charles Darwin, birds much prefer a not harsh ambient electronica. Avoid loud noise near the cage and gently talk with them as if you are bidding them goodbye.

You can also opt to hold them into your arms until they die. You may take them out of the cage, keep them warm, or cuddle with them.

Do you want to know if cockatiels can get fleas? Check it here.

How To Help A Dying Cockatiel?

The fact that cockatiels will hide their real health condition, the first thing you have to do is notice the modifications from your feathered pet’s behavior.

Observe their usual routine when eating, bathing, or sleeping. Be keen on abnormal changes or reactions from them. It is the necessary step to prevent them from dying and detect the illness to be cured.

The moment you suspect problems from them, you may consider getting them into your Veterinarian and seek an appointment.

If they are sick already and chances of dying are possible, you can prevent this from happening by doing the following:

1. Place Them In A Safe Space

Keep them warm if they are sick. You may install a ceramic heat lamp near its cage to maintain the right body temperature.

You may also put on a humidifier to help ease some respiratory symptoms.

2. Monitor Them Regularly

Once you have consulted your Vet, it is your task to follow and obey your Veterinarian’s advice strictly. Thus, carefully monitor their condition and recovery.

Besides that, get them a small treat after giving them medication before placing them back in their cage.

How To Euthanize A Cockatiel At Home?

How to euthanize a cockatiel? You can manage and end the agony of your feathered pet at home. Indeed, euthanasia is an act of ending the life of your pet quickly and painlessly.

There could be times that the Veterinarian’s services are not available at that time, or transporting your feathered pet to Vet’s clinic can be a bit disturbing on your part.

At home, the safest approved method of euthanasia is using Carbon Dioxide. It is almost odorless and much heavier compared to the oxygen that causes death at high concentrations. You will just need 5% of acetic acid or vinegar and baking soda to make bubbles.

These bubbles are carbon dioxide gas. Then create a euthanasia chamber out of plastic and connect it to the hose.

It can irritate the eyes and the respiratory system painfully. Before exposing your cockatiel to it, make sure to induce an analgesic to them a couple of minutes first.

What about cockatiels and mites? Read our article.

What To Do With A Dead Cockatiel?

To get rid of the body of your cockatiel right away, you can choose to wrap and bury them within your property. Make sure to dig the grave deep enough that it will keep the body safe from scavengers.

If you want to keep a remembrance of your cockatiel, you may choose to cremate them. Some veterinarians offer such extended services.

Another is through taxidermy. It’s a bit costly, but some owners opt to preserve their feathered pet’s body after death.

How To Deal With The Death Of Your Cockatiel?

Life can be hard at times. Taking away the life of your pet can be distressing. But the reality is, no matter how long they have lived with you, they will die eventually.

In dealing with the death of your cockatiel, it will take you a process. It’s not a one-shot deal, and you’ll get over the following day. Cockatiels have played an essential role in your life or the family.

What you can do is to own your feelings. Keep in mind that it’s okay to feel sad due to your pet’s loss.

To help suit your sad emotions, you may hold a small service for your bird’s burial, take a photo of them, place it on a frame, and reminisce about your good times together.

It will be easy for you to accept that your cockatiel died already when you let yourself feel and see the reality. Denying it may not help you fully move on. Thus, it will only bring you future problems due to unfinished business or issues you still have with your feathered pet.

It is also great for a fresh start to own a new pet or another feathered one like cockatiels to ease your sadness.


Keeping your cockatiel getting the proper nutrition it needs will surely give them a long and prosperous life in the cage. However, there can be an illness that at times irrevocable that worse may cause them death.

As your feathered pet’s companion, be sure to observe changes in the behavior of your cockatiel. They are known to be quite well in keeping their sickness. Thus, it’s a challenge for you to notice one.

There are common symptoms that your pet may show that you need to take note of. Be sure also to exhaust your means in preventing them from dying.

However, if things are not good with your pet, the best option is to end their pain. And that is through euthanasia. You can use safe methods at home if you don’t feel like bringing them to the Vet.

What is important is that you could express your affection and comfort to them before they die. And sooner or later, you’ll be able to get through with your feathered pet’s loss.


Image credits – Canva

[1] Why did my bird suddenly die? – AvianDExoticVets

[2] The Life Span of a Cockatiel – Pets The Nest

[3] How Do You Know When a Bird Is Dying? – LoveToKnow

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