Cockatiel Snacks

As long as your cockatiel is on a healthy pellet/seed mix type of diet that your breeder or avian vet recommends, you should feel free to introduce healthy snacks to your pet (and not the Cheese Curls my Walter got into when he was a curious little clucker - he loved them and to this day, still tries to go for my bag, but I definitely do NOT think these should be given to birds).

Vegetables that your kids won't eat - peppers, broccoli, spinach, cabbage, zucchini - those are a great addition to a cockatiel's diet.
Corn, sweet potato, beets and tops, endive, celery, carrots, lettuce.
These should be served fresh and washed to remove any pesticides or treatments from the grocer.

Fruits are good, including dried fruits on occasion.

Wheat Bread and corn bread are great.

They also enjoy peanut hearts, corn flakes and Corn Chex as a treat.

The best balance ratio is 75% Fresh seed mix, Fresh fruits and vegetables: 20%, and cooked eggs, breads and nuts, rounds it out.

Foods to Avoid
Stay away from avocado, rhubarb, apple pits, anything with alcohol, caffeine, chocolate or heavily processed foods as they contain high amounts of fat and salt.

Avocado, rhubarb, apple seed and chocolate are actually poisonous to your pal.
If your bird accidentally ate any of those items, give them a bit of Pepto-Bismol and contact your vet immediately.

Introducing New Foods to Your Cockatiel

Mo is courtesy of RLB Photo
There are two main ways to introduce new food to a cockatiel but first, a little insight into the bird.

They are communal creatures and eat together. I always had my birds in the cage nearby the dinner table (or coffee table if I was eating in front of the TV) so that we could all eat together.
Sounds weird, I know, but they get it.

The more you can play to your cockatiels natural curiosity, the better, so if I let my birds see me eating something, they want to come and investigate and taste what I'm eating.
They will get on my shoulder, walk down my arm, up onto my hand and stare at the food.
They will first taste the utensil and then go after whatever is on it.

The other, more subtle way, is to chop up the food and mix it into the seed so they will be tasting it along with things that are already familiar to them.

Something I figured out early on is that cockatiels don't necessarily want you watching while they are trying something new.
If I just turn my head away from the food, even if it is in my hand, they are more inclined to investigate it for themselves.

One of the favorite foods of my birds is powdered spirulina mixed into oatmeal that was cooked in water with a tiny pinch of salt and cooled slightly.
It's green and messy and it's like Birdie Dope - they love the warmth and stickiness of the food since it reminds them of their parents feeding them, and it puts them into nap mode very quickly.
I had one adult female who would actually make baby chick feeding sounds while she ate it.

If you've never eaten spirulina, I certainly can't recommend it. It's a sea algae that's more disgusting than any vegetable you've ever tried including plain tofu.
Endurance athletes are getting into it so you should be able to find it in your local health food or vitamin store.

It's a vitamin-rich food source but I wouldn't give it to your bird more than twice a week (they love it on pasta and brown rice, too) and a little sprinkle goes a long way.

Feed it to them immediately after sprinkling it on pasta or mixing it into oatmeal as the nutrient value tends to disappear quickly as it's introduced to heat.

It also seems as if too much softens their feathers to a point of weakness, or at least that was what my breeder was telling me seemed to be happening to her latest clutches.

One thing I've noticed is that my birds were eating better than me until I started adopting their healthy habits.
Go figure.