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Diet for Cockatiels

A common mistake in caring for cockatiels is to feed too much dry seed. Dry seed alone is very high in fat while being low in protein and many essential vitamins and minerals. A cockatiel kept entirely on dry seed can end up with multiple problems such as poor feathering, respiratory disease, fatty liver and diabetes. The best diet for a cockatiel includes pellets, fruit and vegetables and small amounts of seed as a treat.

The diet we recommend be fed:

High quality cockatiel pellets

  • These are low in fat, and high in vitamins and minerals that your bird needs. Pellets should form 50% of the diet.

A range of fresh fruit and vegetables

  • These should always be available for your bird and provided fresh daily.

  • Some ideas – peas, corn, broccoli, celery leaves, capsicum, carrot, spinach. Darker coloured vegies are generally more nutritious.

  • Any fruit or vegetable that we eat EXCEPT FOR avocado, onion and rhubarb.

Fresh grass

  • Cockatiels usually appreciate fresh grasses and native plants, especially the seed heads. Milk thistle is also good for birds.

  • Flowers, branches and leaves from the common natives are safe to give to your cockatiel. They provide a good supplementation of food and entertainment for your bird.

Cockatiel seed mix – 1 teaspoon daily per bird

Fresh water always available and changed daily

Treats – good for training

  • These should be provided in small quantities only

  • Whole grain plain bread or toast, millet spray, sunflower seeds, nuts, dried fruit, plain whole-grain crackers.

Converting to Pellets – tips and tricks

  • Mix 50/50 with seed in the normal food bowl. Only provide enough food for 1 day – 1-1½ tablespoons of each. If seed is provided in excess of daily intake, your bird won’t get hungry enough to try the pellets. Gradually reduce the amount of seed once your bird is eating the pellets.

  • Try moistening the pellets and rolling into balls with seed – as your bird picks at his favourite seeds some pellets will be eaten and he will get the taste of them.

  • If your bird likes human food, pretend to eat the pellets yourself – it may make them more appealing.

Patience, patience, patience – it may take several weeks before your cockatiel willingly eats pellets.

Photography by @minniephotog

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