cockatiel diets

Cockatiel as a pet bird is a wonderful companion. The popularity has recently reached such a peak that cockatiels have ranked as the No.1 pet bird in America. So if you have a cockatiel or planning to have one, there are some guidelines you must abide by.

To make sure the good health of your pet bird, you must plan a proper diet. You must provide the medicines your cockatiel requires to fight against parasites and usual bird diseases. Also, you need to make sure a neat and healthy environment is in favor of your cockatiel. But among these, the most important thing is to supply your pet bird with proper food and to do that, you will need a good cockatiel diet plan. Let’s talk about how to focus on cockatiel diets. 

Why A Proper Diet Plan Is Essential?

This is a question that I often hear. People say, “Cockatiels in the wild eat a lot of random things. They don’t follow a diet there and yet they stay fit. Then why should I follow a proper diet plan?” The answer to that is wild cockatiels mostly eat seeds and fruits. They know their daily timings of having food. The cockatiel you have caged isn’t a wild one and it doesn’t know the amount of food it should have or at which time it should eat.

Wild cockatiels move around with folks but your cockatiel at home is not getting that kind of company. So you need to follow a proper diet plan otherwise your cockatiel will suffer from malnutrition in the future. It will face obesity and many health risks. Don’t make the mistake of comparing your pet cockatiel with a wild one.

Cockatiels Love To Eat – Cockatiel Diets

what do cockatiels eat

The answer mostly would be seeds and fruits. But recently, pellets have gained huge popularity among most cockatiel keepers. There are also some fancy foods that you can feed your cockatiel as a treat. Since treats are occasional, we will not discuss that. Let’s have a look at what cockatiels eat in general.


  • Sunflower
  • Safflower
  • Peanuts
  • Canary seed
  • Golden & Red millet
  • Milo
  • Mixed seeds (Most popular)



  • Carrots
  • Corn
  • Sweet potato
  • Tomatoes
  • Cabbage
  • Leaf lettuce


  • A small amount of chicken or fish meat
  • Unsalted peanut butter
  • Little crumbs of bread
  • Brown rice
  • Cooked oats

It is to be noted that the food habit of a pet cockatiel and a wild one is a bit different. We are discussing pet cockatiels’ diet, where the wild ones mostly depend on grass seeds and vegetables.

What To Avoid While Planning Cockatiel Diets?

Some things are severely harmful to your cockatiels’ health and they can even be life-threatening at times. You must avoid these items directly as well as products having these items as ingredients. Let’s have a look at some of the BIG NO things for your cockatiel,

  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol
  • High-fat foods
  • High salt foods
  • Chocolates

Foods containing fat can cause obesity which can cause many complications, even death to your cockatiel. So choose the diet wisely.

How To Plan The Diet?


We have already discussed what to feed your cockatiel and what not. Now let’s put all this knowledge together and make a proper diet plan for your cockatiel. I personally like to plan the diet in a proportionate manner and this is how it looks like,

  • Pellets (40% or 35-45grams for adult cockatiel)
  • Mixed seeds (30%)
  • Fruits (5-10%)
  • Vegetables (20%)
  • Treats (0-5%)

The reason why I plan this way is that pellets contain more minerals and nutrition for cockatiels in general, so they must be supplied in the top order. Mixed seeds and fresh, healthy vegetables are also required for the balanced growth of your pet bird. The plus and minus go for fruits and treats. It must be acknowledged that fruits contain a high level of sugar. Excess sugar can cause many harmful diseases to your pet bird. It may lose appetite and become dizzy.

Treats are not usually a part of the diet plan but since you’ll want to build a friendly relationship with your cockatiel, these treats may come in handy. It is not necessary to give treats on a regular basis. It is completely optional and that is why I’ve set the proportion in that manner. 


For baby cockatiels, the food items will not vary that much. You can reduce the number of fruits since the digestive systems are not that much functional at that time and sugar can be really harmful. There are some homemade foods that you can also provide. Cereal is a good choice of them. You can prepare the cereal using boiled water and add peanuts and seeds to make it even more nutritional. Just remember to use the smallest cuts of nuts and seeds or beans. Otherwise, it will face difficulty while swallowing. 

When And How To Feed The Cockatiel?

Now that you’ve learned about planning a diet, you also need to learn about how and when to feed your beloved pet bird. If your cockatiel is adult and you don’t want to put much effort, you can simply supply the food in the cage. You need to fill 70% of its food bowl with the food according to the diet plan daily. Don’t forget to change the food on a regular basis. Fruits and vegetables older than 2-3 days can cause toxicity which can lead to food poisoning. Cockatiels are super hygienic, so you need to monitor whether the cage is completely clean or not.

I am telling this because I’ve seen many cases where the owners following this method do not clean the cage entirely and the dirty and messy surroundings depress the cockatiel. If you want to handle the feeding process actively, you might like the hand-feeding process. This process may become tiring as time goes but a true cockatiel lover never gets hopeless. Also, if your cockatiel is not an adult one, you might need to use this process to build up a good relationship.

Here you need to put around 40-45 grams of a balanced diet in your hand and feed your cockatiel. For a baby cockatiel, 10-15 grams is enough. In this process, feeding twice a day is enough. Just never make your cockatiel starve even for a single day. That will break down their morals and soon, they will act hopelessly.

The Most Important Thing Is Water.

We have discussed a lot of foods and fruits so far but one vital thing is missing and that is water. Cockatiels are also living beings like us. A day without water drains us absolutely dry and even causes severe damage to our organs. The same thing happens with cockatiels too. Clean and safe water is a must for them. You can not provide them with water that you use for household work (tap water, basically). You have to offer them the water you drink.

But there is also a catch here. If the water you drink contains a high amount of anti-oxidant or bleach, it will become harmful to the cockatiel. You need to give them fresh water from a deep tubewell (if available) or boiled water after cooldown. There must be a watering can inside the cage in which you will pour the water on a regular basis. Note that multiple cockatiels in a cage can make the water dirty in no time. So it is a good practice to always monitor the cleanliness of water whenever you can. 

Hygiene And Diet

Well, you can ask me how is hygiene-related to cockatiel’s diet. I have to say, these two words are related in many ways. You can never just make a diet in your way and feed your cockatiel and expect a good result always. Bad hygiene will make the cockatiel sick and it will discontinue eating the foods you’re offering. This isn’t a physiological disease but a psychological one. Cockatiels are fancy birds and they like cleanliness and hygiene a lot. Also, if you don’t maintain hygiene in preparing the diet, it can contain harmful bacteria, which in the future can cause infectious diseases.

Proper hygiene is well necessary for the jolly mood of your pet bird. Do not force your cockatiel to live in messy surroundings. A hygienic water supply is also a necessity. As a whole, a proper diet plan needs a proper hygienic environment to attain its utmost result.

Is It Necessary To Provide Vitamin Or Mineral Capsules?

For a normal cockatiel, the answer will be no. The items you’ve included in the diet plan contain most of the vitamins and minerals your cockatiel requires. Fruits and vegetables are good sources of vitamins and minerals. However, if you notice any sickness that may arise due to a deficiency of proper vitamins or minerals, you can ask for the advice of a veterinarian. If he/she advises you, only then you should provide extra vitamin or mineral capsules along with the diet. But in normal cases, there is no necessity to supply such capsules since an overdose of these may cause many complex disorders.

Facts To Remember

Lastly, there are some things that I must share. I always try to treat my cockatiel just like I treat my son. I never neglect any necessities of it. I always monitor its bowel and bladder habits. If I notice any kind of abnormality, I try to take action immediately. If you also treat your cockatiel like I do, it will become your habit to check if your cockatiel is doing okay or not. Automatically, you will know what to do and what not. You will clean its cage when it is needed, maintain hygiene and cleanliness and supply a proper diet regularly. Love your pet bird and the magic will happen.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Can I feed rice to my cockatiel?

Answer: Yes, you can. But I always prefer feeding steamed rice since it is easy to digest without losing any of its food value. You can also mix rice with the normal diet to create versatility. Since rice isn’t an excellent option for treats, you can always use this item as a normal food item. Just try to avoid giving excess.

Q. Why my cockatiel isn’t eating?

Answer: Mostly, this occurs due to depression and stress but it can also occur due to illness. If your cockatiel is living in a shaggy environment or is treated in an unhygienic manner, a stressful situation can arise. It is a common scenario after buying an adult cockatiel from a pet shop. You need to take proper care and give full attention to overcome this situation. It may take some time. If your situation is not like that, you should contact a vet.

Q. Why is my cockatiel losing weight?

Answer: This can arise due to many reasons. Stress and illness are one of the majors and immediate action must be taken. Birds are lightweight beings and a little loss in weight can be severely harmful to them. Immediately consulting a vet is recommended. 

Q.How many times a day do cockatiels eat?

Answer: Adult cockatiels like to eat at least twice a day. They start their day by having a good breakfast in the morning and then take the next meal around by nightfall. However, this habit may vary. Note that their normal eating routines of them should not be altered unless you feel necessary. 


Cockatiels are a sign of peace to me. Their diet plan is always my first priority and so should be for you too. A proper cockatiel diet is a must for the proper growth of your beloved pet bird and no negligency is acceptable here. Your one wrong decision can put your cockatiels life at stake. So always try to give proper care and attention while planning the diet as directed and then you can expect to have a healthy cockatiel to build a friendly relationship with.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *