Most experts recommend giving cockatoos pellets. Choose the larger ones (like those sold for Macaws) or ask your veterinarian to recommend a brand.
However, cockatoos also need a little variety in their meals. How would you feel if you ate nothing but rice every day of your life? You can try feeding it fruits like apples, plums, raisins, oranges, peaches, bananas, and pears. Just remove the apple seeds and peach pits, which have been linked to bird poisoning. Oranges and other citrus fruits should be limited to twice a week, since these can wreak havoc on the digestive system.
Vegetables are a must. Broccoli, cabbage, lettuce and carrots will always be sure hits. Wash them well (fertilizers and chemical pesticides can make birds sick), or if you can, buy organic or grow them right in your own garden!
You can also offer cockatoos some protein from cheese, hard boiled eggs, and canned dog food. You can occasionally give it a bit of your leftover meat, but it’s best to limit their intake of highly seasoned dishes or processed meats.
Skim milk, yogurt, hard boiled eggs, and cheese can be given. These are rich in calcium and great for a bird that has a tendency to destroy its calcium block. However, try to get the low-fat variety, and don’t leave that food in the dish for long—you have to watch for spoiling!
Never give your pet cockatoo avocado, caffeine, chocolate or alcohol. A small potato chip now and then won’t hurt, but as a rule, minimize “human treats” that are high in salt and sugar. A bird doesn’t have a very efficient excretory system so it takes much longer for it to rid its body of toxins.
Don’t give your pet cockatoo too much seed. While there was a time when seed was considered the most “natural” thing to feed to a bird, experts now know that the vitamins and minerals in most natural seeds aren’t enough to meet the cockatoo’s nutritional needs.
Seeds and pellets should be served in one dish. Fruits and vegetables should be served in another. Wash dishes every day, though you can put back leftover pellets and seeds after you’ve removed the empty husks.
Also remember—treats are treats. Don’t give too much, or you lose the novelty factor, and your cockatoo may lose its appetite for the “real” food. It’s better to give it only during a training session. Cut it into bite-sized pieces so your bird won’t get so engrossed in eating that it forgets about the trick.