Here is everything you will need to know about what cockatiels can eat. We will start from the beginning, grab a coffee, go to the toilet and get comfy. This article is going to give you everything you will need to know in one post!
Is your Cockatiel too loud? Need a couple of tips to quieten them down? Try my article on “Easy ways to quieten down a cockatiel.”
Table of Contents
- What A Regular Cockatiel Diet Should Be
- Seeds for your bird
- Nyjer bird seeds
- Sunflower Hearts
- Seed Recap
- Fruits, Vegetables & Berries
- What Can’t Parrots Eat?
- How much should you be feeding your bird?
- “The Dirty Dozen” and “The Clean 15”
Giving your bird access to food 24/7 is not a good idea! Firstly, This leads to your bird being picky (Pickier than usual!). Secondly, this leads to something called buffet eating!
Buffet eating is where they pick out the food they want to eat and leave the rest, which can be bad for a balanced diet!
What A Regular Cockatiel Diet Should Be
Whether you are thinking about getting a cockatiel or you have had your feathery friend for a short while. The thought will have crossed your mind, “What do I feed you?”
The answer is simple. Pellets or Seeds! I will go into greater detail about them soon! At the same time, I will link two different pellets or seeds brands with their description to make a better decision!
The thing you will find with parrots, is they can be picky! So feeding them something they aren’t fond of can be a task on its own. As you go on, you will notice which food, fruit, or veg your little one takes a liking to! Take a mental note of it if they seemed to enjoy it!
The key to a happy birdie is variety. Having your birds’ primary food source being pellets or seeds will not cut it. You have to spice things up with a little of this and a little of that to keep that diet balanced and your bird happy!
Let’s get into the nitty-gritty of cockatiel diets!
Pellets are made up of most of the good stuff your bird needs to keep a stable diet. Unfortunately, pellets can not and should not make up 100% of your parrots’ diet. They lack some of the essential vitamins and minerals that fruits and vegetables can make up.
“A pelleted diet should provide the bulk (60-80%) of your pet bird’s diet.”
A quote from Avian & Animal Hospital. If you’re interested in the whole article, “Click Here”
What type of pellet is best?
Just like human food, pellets have different levels of nutrition to benefit them. It is essential to do your research and understand what you are looking for in a good pellet. Some pellets may be chock full of additives and ingredients that don’t benefit your parrots’ overall health.
When it comes to pellets, There are two types to choose from. “Organic or Formulated” each has its properties, and it can get quite in-depth, so I’ll give you the short.
It’s going to be hard to be unbiased for this one, so I’ll give you the facts while trying to keep it light.
When it comes to organic pellets like “Harrison’s Bird food” (link to Amazon), the term organic doesn’t just refer to the ingredients used within the pellets. The term refers to; How it’s grown, processed, transported, and stored! This is why organic foods usually cost a bit more. If the product is organically made, the entire process would be organic from the water used to grow the ingredients, right down to the packaging. Otherwise, it would not be certified as “Organic.”
If you’re interested in this and want to know more. “Here is a link” to the Harrison’s website!
The great thing about formulated diets is that they have been scientifically formulated to be as nutritional as possible for your bird. Sometimes you need to make sure the supplier hasn’t added things that will not benefit your feathered friend.
I’ve found a pretty great formulated bird food that is “non- GMO’s ingredients, no added artificial colors, no preservatives or flavors!”- “LAFEBER’S Classic Avi-Cakes Pet Bird Food, Made with Non-GMO and Human-Grade Ingredients, for Cockatiels” link takes you to Amazon!
“The essential nutrients (over 32 have been identified) required to ensure the correct functioning of the bird’s metabolism.” A Quote from Harrisons Bird foods “Click Here” to read more.
Recap of Pellets:
The way I look at it is, It’s between ethically grown or scientifically formulated. There are two main types of pellets, “Organic or Formulated” Both have excellent reasons for you to choose them. I will give you bulleted points of what I believe are the main qualities of each type.
- The water to the packaging is either made or grown from reused or recycled sources.
- It usually costs a bit more. How it was made, transported, and stored is generally more “friendly.”
- Always going to be GMO-free.
- Scientifically formulated to contain the majority of vitamins and minerals needed for a healthy bird.
- It will take a bit of looking to make sure it doesn’t have any unwanted additives.
- Usually a bit cheaper.
Now, onto the next!
Birds will very happily eat seeds all day long. The thing is, this is not going to be good enough nutritionally. Seeds, unfortunately, don’t have enough vitamins and minerals to sustain a balanced diet! At the same time, being high in fats.
Avian & Animal Hospital – “Seed should be kept to a minimum and offered only as a treat.”
Seeds have been known to be low in quality and full of artificial colors and unhealthy ingredients! If seeds do happen to be part of your birds’ diet. There are a few things to take into consideration.
- Birds are very good at emptying the husks of the seeds. Remember to change the bowl regularly as they may appear full but are just empty shells!
- Remember to wash the seeds first as they may be coated in Substances or fungi.
- Please make sure the seeds are completely dry before feeding them to your bird.
- Try to mix the seeds with other things to add some nutrition.
TheSprucePets– “Malnutrition linked to an all-seed diet is a top cause of companion bird mortality”
Seeds for your bird
Now that I have given you the hard facts about seeds. I have found some great bird seeds that will provide a good range of benefits for your bird! The first is “Nyjer Seeds” or “Sunflower hearts” Either of these are suitable for your bird provided they are not their main diet!
Nyjer bird seeds
This is a good composition to have for a winter feed. This seed provides your bird with essential oils and fats to keep it warm while it gets colder!
- 35 % fat (25 % minimum)
- 18 % protein (16 % minimum)
- 18 % fibre (20 % maximum)
- 12 % sugar (18 % maximum)
- 12 % moisture (maximum)
The sunflower heart claim to fame is that they are cheaper and are “De-husked,” which makes them ideal if you’re not looking for a messy clean-up! As best as I can tell, sunflower hearts’ health benefits aren’t too bad, but they still do not hit all the requirements that your bird needs!
Nutritional benefits of sunflower hearts -Vitamin B1, Vitamin B6, Magnesium, Potassium, Phosphorus, Copper, Manganese, Selenium, Iron, and Zinc an excellent source of Vitamin E.
Either of these seeds is acceptable for your parrot for different reasons. However, seeds are made to such a low standard that they wouldn’t fully balance your birds’ diet. Although, as a snack, Sunflower Hearts or Nyger seeds are fine for your parrot. After cleaning and drying them of course. I would try to stay away from seeds as you can full their diet with better and more nutritionally enriched foods!
- Seeds should be washed and dried to get rid of fungi and harmful substances.
- They do not provide enough nutrients to cover all that’s required for a full diet.
- Only seed diets are linked to malnutrition and health-related issues for birds.
- Nyjer seeds are suitable for winter fatting. Excess oils and fats.
- Sunflower hearts are full of nutrients, just not enough quantity to provide a real benefit.
- You should limit seeds to a snack.
Fruits, Vegetables & Berries
Now that we have covered what the bulk of their diet should be (80%). You should fill the other 20% with fruits, vegetables, and berries! These are the things you can get creative with and try new things to find out what your bird takes a liking to.
The great thing is, the list of things you can feed your bird is MUCH bigger than the things they can’t. (We will touch on the many things to stay away from in a later section) So go for it, experiment a little. You might find your bird’s new favorite snack! If you do have any doubts, give it a quick search on google!
For this section, I will touch on 2 Fruits, Veg, and berries each. Otherwise, this could go on forever! If you’re looking for a shortcut to the links I will provide, click on the one you’re interested in below.
Fruit- The fruit list will be Bananas & Pomegranate
Vegetables- Vegetables will be Tomatoes and Asparagus
Berries- For berries, we will cover Grapes and Strawberries![Click an Image or Title to go to the article!]
Cockatiels love fruits! From A-Z, cockatiels would indulge no problem. I will touch quickly on Fruit seeds and go into more detail in the coming section. Most fruit seeds contain cyanide, which is incredibly toxic for your bird. Just give it a quick once over before giving it to them.
Another thing I will give a quick mention, too is Pesticides. Remember to wash your fruits as unless you’ve bought organic (even then); you should be washing your fruits for pesticides! I will be covering “The Dirty Dozen” & “The Clean 15” in the coming section.
Let’s get into some fruity talk!
Bananas are great for your feathery friend! The great thing about bananas is, it’s a 2 in 1 package! The fruit itself has incredible benefits for your bird, and as a bonus, the peel provides entertainment for them after!
The list of benefits that I go into a little deeper is Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, iron, and magnesium. Each one of these is vital for your birds well being in their own way!
Pomegranate is incredibly low in fats (roughly 1%) while being high in fibre and natural sugars (although too much sugar can be a bad thing, read on to find out why). Pomegranates are a great source of Folate, Potassium, Protein, Fibre, Vitamin C, and K. This is a fruit you want to try out!
Raw vegetables are great for your cockatiel! The main thing to remember when feeding vegetables to your bird is to keep it clean! Try not to add any spices, oils(unless bird-friendly, like some sunflower oils), or anything extra that may be harmful to your bird!
Another to consider when cooking vegetables: some Teflon and non-stick pans, etc., when overused or burnt, can emit fumes that can be harmful to your bird!
Tomatoes are great for your bird. Your feathery friend needs vegetables to survive, and tomatoes should be part of the meal plan for your bird! From keeping your birds’ mental health in check to the antioxidants tomatoes provide, this vegetable should not be skipped over!
Tomatoes are a great source of Vitamin A & Vitamin C as well as Antioxidants! Tomatoes all and all make an excellent snack for your bird!
Develop’s strong bones and maintains a healthy nervous system. Asparagus is excellent for most birds. Rule of thumb, give your bird a small amount of asparagus the first time to be safe. Every bird is different; 99% of parrots are OK. However, some may have a very “smelly” reaction to asparagus. Fortunately, none are fatal. At most, your parrot may experience an upset tummy.
Asparagus has Potassium, Vitamin C, Vitamin A, and Thiamin, which is vitamin B1. Each one of these vitamins and minerals has excellent benefits for your bird.
The great thing about berries is that the majority of them are entirely safe for your bird! They will not only nourish your bird but open up a world of different flavors and tastes that they will soon grow to love and look forward to as they grow and develop.
The great things about grapes are, they have a whole host of benefits that are incredibly beneficial to your bird! From increasing kidney health to helping your bird’s mental state to keep them healthy!
The vitamins and minerals that grapes can provide are Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, Thiamin, Potassium, & Antioxidants. Each one of these vitamins and minerals is incredibly important in its own right!
Naturally, strawberries are great for your bird! Strawberries are packed full of all sorts of nutrients that can provide a healthy mental state and create the requirements for fighting off diseases like osteoporosis!
If that’s not enough, how about reducing stress? Strawberries have a good vitamin C content, which is great at helping your bird stay mentally stable. That sounds pretty great, right, but the list of beneficial nutrients doesn’t stop there.
Now that we have covered everything that your bird can eat let’s get to the things that they should stay away from!
What Can’t Parrots Eat?
This section will give you a few noteworthy mentions of everyday things to stay away from! From Avocados to salt. This list will provide you with a few things to consider when making your bird their next meal!
I have found most of this information at “ZuPreem” Their website is worth a look! It is very informative.
As much as we love avocados, it is usually unsafe for your bird to eat any! Avos contain acids that may cause internal issues for your parrot! From heart damage, weakness, respiratory problems, and in more severe cases, sudden death.
Unfortunately, chocolate has made the list. Who shares chocolate anyway? A quote from “ZuPreem” “Chocolate contains both theobromine and caffeine which can cause vomiting and diarrhea, increase heart rate, result in hyperactivity, induce tremors and seizures, and even cause death in birds.”
All things caffeinated will be toxic to your feathery friend! Try to stay away from most fizzy drinks, tea, and coffee. Some severe cases have seen birds suffering from cardiac arrest! Have you ever had just that 1 cup too many, and your heart wouldn’t stop racing? Imagine how small your birds’ heart is and how that would affect them!
Salt is undeniably toxic for your bird. We don’t just mean raw salt on its own. Anything that has salt as an ingredient or covered in salt should be kept well away from your bird! Extreme cases have even led to death! So try to be mindful next time you’re seasoning your food!
Sulfur! When chewed, Sulphur is released and can be incredibly bad for your birds’ mouth! In some cases, creating ulcers and even cause rupturing on a small scale in the sense that their red blood cells rupture can lead to something much worse. Anemia!
Now that you have some idea of the main foods, condiments, and snacks to stay away from, let’s move on to how much you should be feeding them of the good stuff!
How much should you be feeding your bird?
When it comes to feeding your bird, the rule to stick to is 80/20. What this means is 80% of your birds’ diet is taken up by Pellets, seeds, etc. (After the first section, you should have a rough idea of what you want their main diet to consist of), and 20% is going to be taken up by fruits & Vegetables.
In the previous sections, I have given you a few examples of each. You should take your bird on a taste adventure and explore some different options! Because some birds like pomegranate and some will stay away from it like it’s on fire. Try to find your bird’s “Pomegranate.”
“The Dirty Dozen” and “The Clean 15”
If you’re interested in more about either of these, “The Dirty Dozen” or “the clean 15, I will add a link to their respective websites! They are both defiantly worth a read! All you need to do is click either image, and you will be redirected to their website.
This leads me onto the final section, the Recap of the article!
If you’ve made it to the end and are now reading the recap! Thank you. In this section, I like to cover the article’s highlights and go over the necessary information!
Highlights of the article:
- We have gone over what the main bulk of a bird’s diet should be!
- How much a bird should be eating!
- The foods, condiments, and snacks they should be avoiding.
- I’ve linked information to “The Dirty Dozen” and “The Clean 15“.
This article’s goal was to be as beneficial as possible and try to help you make the most informed decision while raising and looking after your feathery family member! Hopefully, it has helped!
Any Questions you have relating to this article or just for me in general, leave a comment down below in the comments section.
Disclaimer: I am not an expert. Some birds may react differently to different fruits. Please make sure you always slowly introduce a new food into their diet and keep an eye out for any adverse reactions. If your pet does start displaying symptoms of an adverse reaction, please contact your vet for advice.
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