Can Cockatiels Sleep On Their Perch?

cockatiel sleeping on a perch

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The most common questions new bird owners have are about the sleeping positions of cockatiels. It’s completely natural to question the peculiar sleeping positions of these little birds.  They seem to like their perches, but can cockatiels sleep on their perch?

Yes! In fact, many cockatiels prefer to sleep on a perch because their instincts are to sleep on branch-like objects. Their sleeping position might make you question whether or not they are getting any rest, but standing on their perch on one leg is how cockatiels normally sleep!

Sleeping Positions

The most common sleeping position for a cockatiel is standing on one leg on a perch, with their head tucked under their wing. That’s so weird! Why do they do it?

Cockatiels are on their feet all day, and sleeping on one foot gives the other foot a chance to rest. They tuck their leg into their body because their legs are bare, and they are bringing it closer to their warm body to warm up! 

Similarly, they tuck their head under their wing because it’s warm. They also like darkness, so they are also blocking out the light, or “pulling the blanket over their head”.

sleeping cockatiel
This is a common sleeping position for cockatiels

Before you ask, no, they don’t fall off their perch. Cockatiels, like most birds, have special tendons in their feet that tighten around branches as they relax. To unlock their feet from the branch or perch, all they have to do is stand straight up! 

If your bird doesn’t sleep like this, don’t worry. There are plenty of birds that prefer to sleep the following ways too!

  • Sleeping in their food bowl
  • Sleeping in the bottom of the cage
  • Sleeping up against the side of the cage
  • Sleeping on you!

How Long They Sleep

These little birds need a lot of sleep! The amount of sleep they need will depend on their age and their health, but you can expect your bird to sleep for 10-12 hours at night. This sleep should be uninterrupted, and their environment should stay dark the entire time they are sleeping. 

Cockatiels will also sleep an extra hour to an hour and a half during the day in scattered naps! If your cockatiel isn’t in their cage, they might even take a nap on your lap. 

How to Set Up The Cage

There are a few ways you can help your cockatiel get the best sleep. 

Make sure their cage is big enough

Your bird needs to feel safe in order to sleep. Putting them in a cage that’s too small isn’t going to make them feel safe, it is going to make them feel trapped. 

Here’s our recommended Cockatiel cage on

Add enough perches

Cockatiels in the wild sleep in trees where they can pick the branch they want to sleep on. They often choose different branch sizes and textures to give their feet a break.

The same thing applies in their cage. Have a few different perches for them; some that are made of wood, some from rope, some that are thicker, and some thinner ones. They should also be at different heights mimicking the tree branches!


Your cockatiel needs 10-12 uninterrupted hours of sleep at night, but they aren’t heavy sleepers. Small noises can wake them up. You should keep their cages away from high traffic areas, or areas where loud noises are expected; like the kitchen, living room, or children’s playrooms. 


Cockatiels sleep best when the temperature is between 65° Fahrenheit and 80° Fahrenheit. Since your cockatiel tucks their leg and head into their body to warm up, temperatures that are too cold can make them sick. Temperatures that are too warm can leave your bird feeling stressed and unable to relax enough to sleep. 

What To Watch Out For

Cockatiels sleep in some pretty strange positions, and watching them so you can have a little giggle is fine, but you should also watch them to see if they are showing any signs of illness. 

If your cockatiel is doing any of the following, it might be time to take them to a vet

  • Favoring one leg, or limping
  • Sleeping on both legs often
  • Sleeping on the bottom of the cage often
  • Fluffing their feathers when they are sleeping

Speaking of vet visits, if you want to avoid them, do not let your cockatiel sleep outside their cage at night! Your cockatiel can get into anything while they are out of their cage if you aren’t watching them closely. 

Having them outside your cage in a closed bedroom with you isn’t a good idea either. Too many people have lost their cockatiels after rolling over onto them in their sleep.

Final Thoughts

They might look uncomfortable standing on one foot with their heads bent under their wing, but this is the warmest, comfiest, and the most relaxing way a cockatiel can sleep. 

Give these birds a variety of perches and a quiet space to sleep and they’ll wake up rested and ready to play!

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