What Human Foods Can Cockatiels Eat?

Cockatiels are natural herbivores which means in their natural habitat they’ll only eat plant matter. This includes fruits, vegetables, seeds and grasses.

Keep this in mind when eating dinner and deciding to share some with your pet cockatiel.

If you’re having a hamburger and french fries for dinner, it wouldn’t be smart to share it with your feathered friend no matter how cute you think it is.

Hamburger is meat and not at all part of their natural diet, and french fries are loaded with oil and salt, both of which are harmful ingredients to a cockatiel.

So the easiest way to know if the food that’s on your plate is safe for your pet to eat, just ask yourself if they’d find the same or something very similar on the ground in the woods behind your house.

Can Cockatiels Eat Meat?

Cockatiels should never be fed meat even though a lot of websites will tell you it is safe to fed small amounts of meat to your birds.

The problem is, in order for any organism to properly digest meat, their stomachs must have the correct enzymes in their stomachs in order to break it down.

Cockatiels do not have these enzymes as they are herbivorous, not omnivores or carnivorous.

This is why I personally never offer meat to my pet cockatiels and there are plenty of other protein sources that are far more beneficial to my birds.

Protein Boosts

If you feel your pets need more protein in their diets, the easiest way to include some “human foods” that you can share is through dried fruits.

Dried fruits like raisins and apricots are both healthy options for the both of you that include high amounts of protein yet can be easily digested by your cocktails and can be added to their cage easily with no mess.

Fresh peas and spinach also have a lot of protein, and again, can easily be broken down by your pet and also contain trace nutrients to make them even healthier protein alternatives.

The one thing I will share off of my plate with my pets are scrambled eggs. Eggs are high in protein and don’t cause any problems for cockatiels, but in moderation.

I will give them a fork full maybe once or twice a week as a little treat. They are still not something you want to consistently give any pet bird.

Straight Off The Plate

When it comes to me eating dinner and being scoped out by my cockatiels with big sad eyes, there are a few things I’ll share straight from my plate.

Brown rice is not only nutritious, but it’s a natural grain they could possibly come across in the wild. Brown or whole grain rice hasn’t been bleached so it retains much more of its nutritional value for both of you than white rice.

If you do give your bird white rice, do so in moderation as it breaks down into sugar more easily than brown rice does.

Oatmeal is another food item I’ll share right out of the bowl. But NOT if I used milk to make it, only water. Just make sure it’s cool enough not to burn the little guy’s tongue.

Whole grain pasta can be okay for your pet cockatiels as well, as long as it doesn’t have any garlic on it. Garlic is harmful as you’ll soon learn and should never be given to any bird.

I’ll share any type of beans with them as well. Beans are another great source of protein and they can be easily absorbed through the bird’s digestive track. And like brown rice and is something they may come across in their natural habitats.

That’s the short list of food items I’ll give my cockatiels in good conscious. I feel anything else just isn’t necessary.

What Shouldn’t I Feed My Cockatiel?

There are actually a lot of foods that you shouldn’t be feeding your bird or any bird whether in captivity or in the wild.

Avocado , rhubarb, onions, garlic, raw potato, cabbage and eggplant, although all “natural” foods should never be fed to a cockatiel for a variety of reasons I won’t go into depth here on. Just know these foods can be harmful or even fatal.

Similarly, canned fruits and vegetables shouldn’t be consumed by birds due to their high salt, sugar content and the high amounts of preservatives used in their canning process.

Although fresh fruit is a necessity for cockatiels, many fruit pits can be dangerous due to them containing trace amounts of Cyanide. So always take out the pit of any fruit before giving the meaty part to your pets. This even includes apple seeds.

Coffee and soda are super harmful to cockatiels. Anything that contains caffeine can have drastic results on a bird’s heart and can cause all types of heart problems. So keep anything caffeinated away from them at all times.

Any type of dries beans that aren’t cooked contain hemagglutinin which is toxic to all birds, not just cockatiels. I’ll give my birds a few cooked beans off my plate, but never feed any bird dried beans.

Processed foods are foods that have been altered in some way, often resulting in foods high in saturated fats, salt and artificial flavoring and other toxic ingredients. Any processed food should never be given to birds, This includes everything from candy to pasta.

Chocolate may be yummy to us, but it is deadly to ALL birds. Chocolate poisoning happens quickly and is often fatal, so if your bird consumes chocolate, you are advised to get it to an avian veterinarian as quickly as possible.

Alcohol shouldn’t need to be on this list as no bird should ever be fed any alcoholic beverage. Alcohol, even in very small quantities can be fatal to any bird.

In Conclusion

While there are a few human foods you can feed your pet cockatiels, most human foods aren’t healthy options and often contain too much added salt and preservatives to be safe for them.

If you must give them something, try to share fresh foods and foods that haven’t been processed or specially made for cockatiels.

When in doubt, just ask yourself if the food you’re about to give them can be found in their natural environment. If the answer is no, then you shouldn’t be feeding it to your pets.

Other Cockatiel Resources

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Cristina Vulpe

Cristina Vulpe has an honours degree in Veterinary (2011) and PhD in Canine Oncology (2015). She is passionate about are animal welfare, infectious disease, parasitology, and pathology.

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