Many avian vets recommend a pelleted (or formulated) diet for pet birds rather
than a seed
Seed diets must be supplemented with fresh fruit and vegetables, vitamins,
calcium and other
minerals. Pellets however are supposed to include all of a birdís nutritional
needs and are
often referred to as the complete and balanced diet. Generally they consist of a
ground up grain, corn, vegetables, proteins, vitamins and minerals.
There are many brands of pellets now available. Some are colored and come in
shapes and sizes, although the more basic pellets are one shape and size and a
You should be able to purchase cockatiel pellets from your local pet store or
avian vet. Be
sure to follow the packet directions carefully, taking special note of the
quantities and storage
requirements. Also, ask about providing supplements to your cockatiel once itís
on a pelleted
diet. Because pellets are a complete diet it is normally detrimental to offer
so be clear about this.
Pellets are fairly easy to introduce to a young cockatiel during the weaning
phase, but trying
to convert an older cockatiel from a seed diet to a pelleted diet can be
extremely difficult and
may require the assistance of an avian vet.
Fruit and vegetables
An all-seed diet often results in an unhealthy or overweight cockatiel, so your
must be supplemented with fresh fruit and vegetables on a daily basis.
You can try the following:
Fruit: apple, grape, guava, kiwi fruit, melon, nectarine, orange, peach,
pomegranate, plum, strawberry, tangerine, watermelon.
Vegetables: bok choy, broccoli, carrot (chopped or grated), celery, chard, corn,
very nutritious so donít offer this regularly), peas, silverbeet, spinach,
Favorites with cockatiels tend to be apple, peas, silverbeet, spinach and
Note that the fruit and vegetables should be provided: thoroughly washed, in small pieces, at room temperature, unpeeled, free of cores, stones, pits or pips (note, the leaves, pits, pips and stones
apricots, cherries, peaches, pears and plums can be poisonous), ripe (be careful not to give unripe food or food past its best), fresh (obviously this will be the most nutritious for your cockatiel but you
can use frozen or
Attach the fruit and vegetables to the cage with a clothes peg, plastic food
clip or spike bought
from your pet store. Remove any uneaten offerings at the end of each day.
Be aware that your cockatielís droppings may be runnier than usual with an
intake of fruit and
Some cockatiels will not take to fruit and vegetables straight away. Persevere
as it can take
up to a year before your cockatiel will eat them. Fruit and vegetables are an
essential part of
your cockatielís diet so offer them washed and fresh each day even if these go
untouched - do not give up!
Small amounts of 'people' food are fine for cockatiels occasionally. They can
have a nibble
on crackers, cereal such as cornflakes, hard-boiled egg and wholemeal bread.
Also try rice,
pasta, potato, pumpkin and sweet potato - these must be offered cooked, not raw.
Cockatiels enjoy spray millet and seed treats such as honey bells or sticks.
are fattening and should be offered as occasional treats only. Pet cockatiels
overweight very easily so I recommend offering spray millet once a week if your
fairly active, or if not, only once a fortnight. Seed treats are best given at
Do not feed:
Never give your cockatiel alcohol, avocado or chocolate - these can kill your
bird. Also avoid
asparagus, aubergine or eggplant, mango, cabbage, caffeine (tea and coffee), junk food,
cream, raw potato, and rhubarb (including the leaves).
Use your common sense when it comes to feeding your cockatiel. Many plants and
items are unsafe, so if you have any doubt, do not offer it to your cockatiel.
There is a lot of debate on the subject of whether or not cockatiels require
grit or gravel to
help with the digestion of their food.
My opinion is "no", they do not need grit or gravel as part of their diet. I
have spoken to many
bird experts about this and their opinion is the same. My cockatiels and budgies
had access to grit or gravel, with no adverse effects.
Cockatiels in the wild seek out bits of grit to aid in the digestion of their
varied diets, however
pet cockatiels have a fairly standard diet of seed or pellets, and fruit and
hull or crack the seed with their beaks or simply grind away at the pellets so
can easily digest
Cockatiels provided with grit can gorge themselves on this, especially out of
boredom or when
they are ill, with damaging results to the crop and digestive system.