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Similar to your own diet, a cockatiel thrives most when fed a variety of nutritious foods. Be cautious of offering too many treats and too many seeds, which are high in fat. In their place, reach for healthy and delicious fresh veggies and fruits, along with nutritionally balanced bird food designed with cockatiels in mind. Just note that when you’re switching to a new food, you’ll want to do it gradually over the course of a week so as not to upset your bird's stomach.
To help you in your search, we've researched the best foods to give to your cockatiel. Read on for our top picks.
Best Overall: Kaytee Forti-Diet Pro Health Cockatiel Bird Food
With a seed-based blend of fresh, good-for-your bird ingredients including canary grass seed, millet, sunflower, and more, this mix of food offers a variety of tastes, colors, and textures for your pet. Made in Wisconsin for more than 150 years, you can rest assured that all the ingredients are high-quality and specially selected to boost your bird's overall health and immune system with antioxidants. With omega 3s and both pre- and probiotics, this food will also support their brain and heart health, promote healthy digestion, and give them vibrant plumage.
As with all food, it’s important not to overfeed your bird as cockatiels are prone to obesity.
Best Budget: Higgins Safflower Gold
Some owners find that when they offer their cockatiel a bird food that contains sunflower seeds, their birds eat them exclusively, leaving behind all the other nutritious seeds and ingredients. This Safflower Gold variety from Higgins solves that problem by omitting the sunflower seeds altogether. But with a healthy blend of safflower seeds, millet, and other high fiber grains, plus a mix of fruits and nuts, your little friend will never go hungry. It’s also infused with plant-based omega-3 fatty acids and is free of artificial colors and preservatives.
Best for Babies: Kaytee Exact Hand Feeding Formula Baby Bird Food
Just like human babies, cockatiel babies need a special formula as they double and triple their body weight in the early weeks. This nutritionally balanced, high-fat formula helps support their development of healthy bones and beaks, plus has added omega-3 fatty acids for a healthy brain, heart, and eyes. This formula is also infused with prebiotics to help your baby bird digest its food until it develops its own digestive enzymes. Simply mix with water until it turns into a paste and feed it to your feathered friend with a syringe or a spoon.
Note that the formula stays fresh for up to 45 days after opening; any not used by that point should be discarded.
Best Pellets: ZuPreem Natural Bird Food Smart Pellets
Many feel that pellets are the healthiest way to go, as the pieces are a blend of ingredients, rather than a granola-like mix that your bird can pick and choose their favorites from. These pellets are made of many of the same ingredients found in many popular foods, including ground corn and soybean meal, plus veggies including spinach, lettuce, and watercress along with dried fruits. All that fortified with vitamins, minerals, and amino acids.
Best Natural: Bird Street Bistro Sample Pack Bird Food
Try this sampler pack from Bird Street Bistro to discover your cockatiel’s favorite flavor—they can choose from CinnaSpice, Viva La Veggie, Southern Feast, Tropical, and Cajun Bean. Made in the USA, each flavor pack included organic whole grains plus fruits and veggies, all topped off with a blend of healthy spices and free of added sugars, salt, colors, and preservatives. To prepare, just mix the food with water and heat it before you serve to your bird. After meal time, throw out any leftovers and be sure to offer your bird plenty of fresh water to drink.
Best Treats: Vitakraft Fruit Cocktail Parrot & Cockatiel Treat
Whether you’re trying to reward your cockatiel, encourage it to switch foods, or just in the mood to spoil it, treats can come in handy. This treat mix from Vitakraft is made with 11 easy-to-pronounce ingredients, including dehydrated bananas, pineapples, papayas, coconut, carrots, red peppers, and whole peanuts, with zero added sugars. It also contains essential trace elements, vitamins, and minerals so you can feel extra good about giving it to your bird. As with all treats, it’s important to keep portion sizes in mind as you don’t want to overtreat your pet and risk ruining its appetite.
Best Bars: Lafeber's Fruit Delight Avi-Cakes for Parakeets, Cockatiels, Lovebirds & Conures
These bars are soft and chewy which makes them beloved by birds and their owners alike. Each square is made up of a 50-50 blend of nutritionally balanced pellets and fruits and grains held together with sweet, sticky, nutritious molasses. They also offer omega 3s and omega 6s for skin and plumage health. If you find your bird has trouble eating them whole, try crumbling one up and putting it in their bowls. These bars can be used as a treat or served as a full meal alongside some good-for-birds human foods. Just remember: no avocados or other foods that can be poisonous to birds.