If you have a cockatiel or small parrot breed it is important to supplement their pellet and seed diet with natural foods. This article will give you some ideas on safe and unsafe foods, and how to introduce them to your bird.
Nearly all birds need more than seed to be healthy. Switching your bird to a pellet diet with seeds as a treat is a good start. Adding natural fruits and vegetables is even better. By adding natural foods to your bird’s diet, you will help them lead long and healthy lives. Many birds also enjoy being presented with a variety of foods.
Contrary to what some people believe, you cannot feed a bird anything a person can eat. There are many foods that are toxic to birds, and before you introduce any new foods into your cockatiel or parrot’s diet, you should be aware of what foods are bad for them. According to my avian veterinarian, raw potato, avocado, fruit pits, caffeine, alcohol and chocolate are among the foods that are toxic to birds of any species. I suggest doing some research to get a comprehensive list of foods that are toxic. The Tailfeathers Community is a good place to get such information. I have acquired a fair amount of my bird knowledge from the breeders and owners on this site.
Once you know what’s toxic, you can start picking non-toxic foods to introduce to your birds. I recommend trying peppers as a first new food. Birds, especially cockatiels and parrots, seem to be rather fond of spicy food. My Lutino cockatiel Stoli loves green bell pepper and food sprinkled with chili powder. Another good starter food is kale. It’s easy for them to eat, and is great for their health, especially if you have a Lutino, as they are prone to hemophilia, and dark greens are high in vitamin K.
Start off giving new foods to your bird in a dish other than their normal food dish. Don’t mix fruit or veggies into their other food. If they seem reluctant to try the new item, try sitting down with them and let them watch you eat the food. It will show them that it is a food item rather than a toy or something to fear. It may sound silly, but if you make a big deal out of eating it, smacking your lips and saying “yummy” and such, it will help reinforce the idea to them that it is good to eat. Also, using your finger to “peck” at the bowl containing the fruit or veggie can help them understand.
You’ll have to try several different fruits and vegetables to find what your bird likes best. Some birds hate really wet food, some dislike certain colors. You’ll have to learn your bird’s personal preferences. You may have to dry the food out before they will eat it, or puree it into a sort of soup. I always recommend only offering fruits and veggies to your bird that you or your family already eat. You don’t want to get stuck with foods that no one will eat If the bird doesn’t like it.
Each bird is different, but I can tell you some of the foods that my parakeets, lovebirds and cockatiels have enjoyed: Kale, asparagus, peppers, banana, apple, romaine, hard-boiled egg, egg shell (this is especially good for female birds), beets, pasta (raw and cooked), rice (cooked only!), cheese (in very small amounts as a treat), carrot, beans, chicken and even pork. Yes, birds eat meat. In the wild, cockatiels and some other birds will eat other birds’ eggs, insects and small lizards.
Introducing your pet bird to new foods can be fun for both you and your bird, and it will help them to be healthier. Keep experimenting to see what they like, and give them natural foods on a regular basis. Just remember, never leave fresh fruit of veggies in their bowl overnight as they could spoil. It’s a good idea to make fresh food time a social activity between you and your bird. It can aid bonding and also be a good tool in training.