What Do Cockatiels Eat

Author: Remington Whiting | Reviewed by: Nancy George | February 23, 2023
cockatiel diet, cockatiel food, what cockatiels eat
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Cockatiels eating
Photo by Deva Prasanna on Unsplash

Cockatiels are medium-sized birds, weighing between 2.5 and 4.2 ounces, that belong to the parrot family. They come in a variety of colors and are easy to tame. These sociable, Australian natives make great cage birds that live an average of 15 years, also making them popular pets. Cockatiels are great starter birds because they’re easier to care for than larger birds or other types of animals. However, you must learn how to feed and care for your bird correctly to increase its lifespan and energy.

Feeding your cockatiel healthy foods can improve their length and quality of life. It’s important to know what foods are healthy and what foods to avoid so you can responsibly care for your pet. This article discusses the staples of a healthy cockatiel diet. So, what are the best food choices for a cockatiel?


Ursula Gamez on Unsplash

What Should Cockatiels Eat?

Cockatiels can eat a variety of foods such as birdseed, millet pellets, fruits, vegetables and some treats. Typical packaged cockatiel food is 75% millet pellets and 25% sunflower and safflower seeds. Millets are whole cereal grains from small-seeded grasses that belong to the Poaceae family. This mix should make up about 80% of your cockatiel’s diet. The other 20% should come from fruits, vegetables and greens. Your cockatiel’s food bowl should be kept about three-quarters full and should be refreshed daily. It is okay to give your cockatiel monthly treats such as honey sticks or millet spray. Shrimp can be another occasional snack. It is among the best sources of animal protein for a bird.

Fruits and Vegetables

You can feed your cockatiel many fruits and vegetables. You should cook some vegetables for your pet, while some are safe to eat raw. Your cockatiel can enjoy raw broccoli, kale, asparagus, carrots, cucumbers and spinach. Always cook sweet potato and pumpkin first. Only serve your pet vegetables every other day in small amounts. Experts recommend that vegetables should never exceed 20% of your cockatiel’s overall diet. Fruit is another great snack in small amounts on alternate days. Your cockatiel can eat whole bananas, berries, grapes, and melons, while apples, cherries, nectarines and peaches are safe once the pits and seeds have been removed.

What about Nuts?

Many unsalted nuts make a safe and healthy snack for your pet. Your cockatiel can enjoy pistachios, almonds, cashews and walnuts. Double check the label first and make sure the nuts do not contain any salt because salt will harm your bird.

How Much Water Does a Cockatiel Need?

Cockatiels need about a teaspoon of fresh water per day. Place a small container of water at the bottom of the cage so your pet can drink throughout the day. Make sure your cockatiel’s water isn’t under its perch, to keep it free from droppings. Refill the container with fresh water once a day.

Cockatiel inside its cage

Walid Zangana on Unsplash

What Foods Should a Cockatiel Avoid?

Some foods can be harmful or toxic to your pet. It is important that you research the impact of particular foods before feeding them to your bird. Avoid giving a cockatiel any foods that contain caffeine and sugar like candy and soda. These can cause hyperactivity and lead to immediate or delayed health problems. Avoid chocolate, too—the sugar and caffeine content will harm your bird. Never feed your pet garlic or onions. These Allium vegetables will irritate your bird’s digestive system and can cause red blood cells to rupture and your bird may die.

You should always remove fruit seeds before feeding your cockatiel. Apple seeds, specifically, contain poisonous cyanide. And remember to never feed your pet any items that contain salt. Too much sodium can dehydrate your cockatiel and can lead to death in extreme cases.

To keep your cockatiel healthy and energetic, feed your pet a mixture of packaged bird seed, fresh fruits, vegetables and nuts, in moderation. Make sure to replace its water daily. Keeping your cockatiel as healthy as possible will extend its life and give you many happy years together.

About the Author

Cockatiels eating

Remington Whiting

Remington Whiting is a licensed title officer that has enjoyed writing from a young age. He loves animals and loves to learn about them. He attended Weber State University where he graduated with a degree in Communications and a minor in Spanish. He loves to spend time with his wife, newborn baby and dog. In his spare time you can find him playing [...] Author Details

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