One of the most popular parrots in America, the cockatiel (Nymphicus hollandicus) has some unusualbehaviors. One of these behaviors is beak grinding. Cockatiels will rub the upper maxilla and lower mandible together (the upper and lower parts of the beak), making a clicking sound when falling asleep for comfort.
So why does the cockatiel do this? Both the beak and the tongue have encapsulated nerve endings called Herbst’s corpuscles, which makes them quite sensitive. Grinding the upper and lower parts together, often with the tongue at play inside the beak, provides a great deal of self-soothing and positive sensation for your ‘tiel, which no doubt releases endorphins. These endorphins provide a natural sense of well-being and may even work as an opiate to lessen pain or anxiety and help hasten sleep.
An added benefit of this comfort behavior is that it may serve the purpose of keeping your pet cockatiel’s beak sharp.
Excerpt from the Popular Birds Series magabook Cockatiels with permission from its publisher, BowTie magazines, a division of BowTie Inc. Purchase Cockatiels here.