Looking after your Cockatiels
In addition to fresh, clean water, quality seed should form the basis of your cockatiel’s diet (60-70%), and can be provided in a dish or in the form of a seed bell or millet spray. The remaining 30-40% of the diet should consist of:
Fresh vegetables and fruit:
You can feed your cockatiel small amounts of thoroughly washed and non-sprayed: silver beet, spinach, carrot tops, non-sprayed chickweed and dandelion leaves from the garden, cooked or raw carrot, red + yellow pepper, cooked pumpkin, cooked kumara, cooked yams, green beans, peas, peas in their pod, corn, cooked or uncooked corn on the cob, zucchini, mung bean sprouts, tomato, banana, apples (without pips), pears (without pips), apricots (without stones), peaches (without stones), oranges, mandarins, kiwifruit, grapes and raspberries. When fresh veges are unavailable, frozen mixed vegetables can be thawed and offered. Vegetables should be offered daily, but fruit is recommended only 3 times a week ( it can cause diarrhoea if fed in excess). Broccoli and spinach should be given in only small amounts once or twice a week as it is thought to interfere with calcium uptake. Remember to discard any uneaten fruit/veges after 4 hours as they will become spoiled and can cause gastro-intestinal problems if eaten.
Occasional foods: (twice a week)
Include whole grain or whole wheat bread, whole grain breakfast cereals, cooked pasta, cooked brown rice, a very small amount of cheddar cheese, a small amount of cooked potato, cooked chicken’s egg (scrambled or boiled – remove after 2 hrs), walnuts, brazil nuts, dried banana chips, dried apricots and raisins. Sprouted seeds such as TopFlite ‘Soak n Sprout’ can also be offered (follow instructions carefully!). Sprouting seeds must be rinsed with water often during the sprouting process to prevent fungal and bacterial contamination. Only sprout as much seed as you can feed at any one time and thoroughly rinse the sprouts before feeding. (Remember to remove any uneaten sprouts after 4 hours).
Make sure you offer your cockatiel some cuttlefish bone, a mineral bell, and a small amount of oyster grit. The cuttle-bone and mineral bell will provide your bird with calcium, and the oyster grit serves a dual purpose: it is both a source of calcium and phosphorous and it is used to aid digestion. Ornithon is a powdered multi-vitamin and mineral supplement that can be mixed into your bird’s water. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations and be aware that water that has been supplemented with vitamins must be discarded at the end of each day to prevent bacterial growth. When supplementing – take care not to overdose, an overdose of vitamins could make your bird just as sick as a vitamin deficiency!
Foods to avoid:
Dairy foods (apart from cheddar cheese which is low in lactose), sugary foods, salty foods, raw potato, potato skin, red kidney beans, lima beans, grapefruit, lettuce, cabbage, kale, brussels sprouts and parsley. Lettuce can cause diarrhoea and research suggests that cabbage, kale and brussels sprouts may contribute to iodine deficiency. Canned foods are not recommended due to their high sodium content.
Include mouldy or perished foods, avocado, the onion family, the green parts of the potato (cooked or uncooked), milkweed (which looks a lot like chickweed), alcohol, caffeine, chocolate, cocoa, rhubarb (leaves or stalks), fruit pips/stones, asparagus, tobacco, raw egg, eggplant, also damp, wet, or mouldy nuts. It is also important to avoid cooking with non-stick Teflon cookware in the same room as your cockatiel, as it produces fumes that are highly toxic to birds.
– Lyane Scarlett B.Sc., Dip. Teach., Dip. Lab. Tech., V.N.
- Allen, G. R. and Allen, C. J. All About Cockatiels. 1980. T.F.H. Publications Inc., England.
- Cannon, Michael J. 2002. A Guide to Basic Health and Disease in Birds. A.B.K. Publications, New South Wales, Australia.
- Davids, Angela. Cockatiels – A Guide to Caring for Your Cockatiel. 2006. Bowtie Press, California.
- Forbes, Neil A. Living With a Cockatiel. 2007. Ringpress Books. Singapore.
- Fusz, Ellen. Animal Planet – Cockatiels. 2006. T.F.H. Publications Inc. New Jersey.
- Haupt, Thomas and Rach-Mancini, Julie. Cockatiels – A Complete Pet Owner’s Manual. 2008. Barron’s Educational Series, Inc. New York.
- Mcwatters, Alicia. Sprouted Seed (article) – Bird Talk Magazine. October 1996.
- Palika, Liz. RSPCA – What Your Bird Needs. 2000. Dorling Kindersley, Sydney.
- Rach-Mancini, Julie. Your Happy, Healthy Pet Cockatiel (2nd edition). 2006. Wiley Publishing Inc., New Jersey.
- Tardak, Laura. Cockatiels. 1996. T.F.H. Publications, Inc. USA.
- Vriends, Mathew M. and Heming-Vriends, Tanya M. Handbook of Cage and Aviary Birds. 2004. D&S Books Ltd., Devon.