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What Not to Feed Cockatiels (11 Examples)

Cockatiels are among the most beloved pet birds worldwide, with their endearing personalities, vibrant crests, and captivating melodies. Proper nutrition plays a fundamental role in their health and longevity, and understanding their dietary needs can help these feathered friends thrive. Equally important is the knowledge of what not to feed cockatiels, as certain foods and substances, harmless or even beneficial to humans, can be detrimental or fatal to them.

Did you know, for instance, that cockatiels can live up to 20 years, and in some cases, even longer with the right care and diet? Or that despite their size, these birds have an incredibly efficient metabolism, requiring a diverse diet rich in nutrients?

Quick examples of things never to feed cockatiels:

  • Avocado – Can cause cardiac distress and heart failure
  • Chocolate – Contains theobromine, fatal to cockatiels
  • Onion – High consumption can lead to hemolytic anemia

What not to feed cockatiels

In the following list, we’ll delve into the essential dos and don’ts of a cockatiel’s diet, spotlighting potentially harmful foods that should be strictly off their menu. This can help you avoid unintentional mistakes and ensure your pet bird enjoys a healthy and fulfilling life.

1. Avocado

Avocados | image by whologwhy via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

An avocado could be dangerous for cockatiels, so you should never feed it to them. A chemical in avocados called persin is harmful to birds and other animals. When cockatiels eat avocado, it can cause major health problems like heart, breathing, and even death.

This is why it’s important to keep cockatiels away from any part of an avocado, including the fruit, the seeds, and the skin.

2. Chocolate

Chocolate is harmful to birds and shouldn’t be given to cockatiels. Theobromine, which is in chocolate, can hurt their sensitive systems. If a cockatiel eats chocolate, it can cause several health problems, such as stomach problems, a faster heart rate, tremors, and even death.

To ensure cockatiels stay healthy and avoid needless health risks, it’s best not to give them any chocolate.

3. Mushrooms

Because mushrooms can be dangerous, they’re among the foods you shouldn’t give your pet. Some kinds of mushrooms are deadly to these species and can make them sick, hurt their livers, or even kill them. It’s hard to know which mushrooms are safe to eat, so it’s best to stay cautious and keep mushrooms out of a cockatiel’s diet to keep them healthy and happy.

4. Onion and garlic

Garlic and onion
Garlic and onion | image by via Flickr | CC BY-ND 2.0

Due to their possible toxicity, onions and garlic should be excluded from your pet’s diet. Anemia and other health problems can be caused by substances found in both, such as thiosulfates. Onion and garlic, even in small amounts, can be dangerous, so it’s safer to avoid them altogether. 

5. Sugary food

Cockatiels shouldn’t be fed sugary foods for many reasons. First, they may experience digestive problems since their bodies aren’t adapted to handle large amounts of sugar. Second, they risk becoming overweight, which has numerous adverse effects on health and longevity, if they consume too much sugar.

Finally, cockatiel’s dietary imbalances can be increased by sugary meals.

6. Dairy

Assorted dairy products
Assorted dairy products | image by Marco Verch Professional Photographer via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

One of the things you should refrain from feeding them is dairy products like milk, cheese, or yogurt. These birds can’t digest the lactose in dairy because they don’t have the enzymes that allow them to. Dairy consumption can lead to digestive issues, including diarrhea and abdominal discomfort. 

7. Apple seeds and other fruit pits

Cockatiels can be poisoned by eating apple seeds and other fruit pits, thus it’s best to keep them away from their diet. These seeds have cyanide, which is toxic to birds. Ingesting apple seeds or fruit pits can lead to digestive issues, poisoning, and even fatal consequences.

To safeguard your cockatiel’s health, you should always remove the fruit’s seeds and pit before giving it to it as a treat.

8. Caffeine

Cup of coffee
Cup of coffee | Image by 旭刚 史 from Pixabay

The stimulating effects of caffeine on the central nervous system are bad for cockatiels. Caffeine is toxic to them, and even trace amounts can harm their health. Caffeine has many adverse effects, including elevated heart rate, agitation, nervousness, tremors, and even cardiac problems and death. 

To ensure their well-being and safety, it’s crucial to avoid feeding cockatiels any products containing caffeine, including coffee, tea, energy drinks, and chocolate.

9. Fatty snacks and other human foods

There are several reasons why giving your cockatiel fatty snacks or other human foods is not a good idea. To begin with, the abundance of unhealthy fats, sugars, and salt in these diets has been linked to the rise in bird obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. 

Cockatiels are also sensitive to the chemicals, preservatives, and poisonous compounds that may be found in human meals. To keep these beloved feathered companions in good health, feeding them a diet suitable for their species is crucial.

10. Alcohol

Alcoholic beverages
Alcoholic beverages | image by Sarah Stierch via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Due to their small size and sensitive metabolism, cockatiels shouldn’t consume alcohol. Liver damage, respiratory discomfort, and reduced motor function are some of the negative health effects they may experience from minimal alcohol consumption. 

11. Salty foods

Cockatiels have a particular salt balance in their bodies, and if they consume too much salt, they can develop serious health problems like dehydration and kidney failure. Avoid giving your pet processed human meals or salty treats and instead feed them a diet developed especially for their needs.

Best foods for cockatiels

Here are some of the best foods to give your cockatiels:

  • Apples
  • Papaya
  • Oranges
  • Cooked sweet potatoes
  • Celery
  • Cucumbers
  • Kale
  • Cooked chicken
  • Pumpkin
  • Bananas

These foods provide essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that contribute to a healthy diet for cockatiels. Remember to introduce new foods gradually and ensure that they’re fresh, clean, and appropriately prepared for your bird’s consumption.


To summarize, knowing what not to feed cockatiels is just as important as feeding them a good and balanced diet. We can protect their health and well-being by keeping these birds away from foods and chemicals that can hurt or kill them.

It’s crucial to educate ourselves about the potential risks and make informed choices when it comes to feeding our cockatiel companions.