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Cockatiels-Food and Nutrition

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You must feed your cockatiel a proper diet to keep it healthy, active, and alert. You will need a combination of special bird feed, seeds and vegetables.

While wild cockatiels have lived for centuries without special bird feed, animal scientists have discovered that a captive bird has different needs. It’s not as active, for one, so it can’t burn off the high fat in seeds. It may also need more vitamins, especially if it lives in an environment or climate that it’s not really used to.

That’s why it’s important to include fortified seed mixes, vitamins, and dried fruits and vegetables. There are all-in-one bird pellets, which are designed to meet the daily nutritional needs of your pet. (This is highly recommended if your cockatiel’s a picky eater who’ll only pick at its favorites.)

Many owners use a combination of these different “meals” so the birds won’t get bored with their food. About half of the diet should be pellets, the rest can be bean mix, and bread. Only about 10% of the diet should be seed (this usually means a tablespoon of seed a day).

If you buy an older bird that has been used to seeds, you need to wean it towards a healthier diet. Do this gradually. In the first two weeks, pour about 2 small scoops over the seeds, giving it a chance to get used to the smell and look. Don’t get discouraged if it refuses to eat it. In the end, it all boils down to who’s more stubborn—the bird, or the bird’s owner.

Once the bird has become familiar with the pellet, gradually decrease the amount of seed (or offer it only at certain times of the day). You won’t be starving your pet; it will just “force” it to try the other kinds of food. Just give more generous amounts of pellets, vegetables, and healthy human food like greens. Don’t be worried if your cockatiel rejects the pellets, or chirps piteously whenever you enter the room—its “begging” may melt your heart, but you are doing it for its own good. Eventually it will get used to its new diet.

You should also be careful not to overfeed your pet cockatiel, even if it seems to hop and chirp like it’s hungry. Too many treats like sweets or crackers will make it overweight, and sickly.

As for feeding bowls, you will need three: pellets, soft food, and treats like seed. You will also need a water bottle, much better than a bowl if your bird likes playing with its food (pellet soup, anyone?) or taking an impromptu swim. Many owners recommend having two sets on hand, since it makes cleaning more convenient.

The dish for its pellets must be large enough to hold a quarter of a cup, with enough room for the bird to eat without spilling it over.

Be sure to provide a cuttle bone and mineral block, too. These supplements are usually hung at the side of the cage, so the bird can peck at it during the day.