Cockatiel diet and health (In need of help!)

Safamirza🤍

Well-known member
Mar 26, 2022
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Cockatiel
Hello, hope you are doing well :) I have a male cockatiel named Kiko who is turning 1 in November!

This post is in regards to bird/cockatiel diet and a little short question

I have tried SO many different ways to make Kiko eat veggies to make his diet more healthy. Nutrients from veggies is very important for birds, but Kiko is SOO frustrating to work with :( He just won’t eat veggies. (I have posted twice about this issue) the only thing he is willing to eat is spinach and SOMETIMES a bit of coriander. I have noticed that he’s only willing to try dark leafy greens. I gave him a a bit of kale, and he nibbled on it a bit and then rejected it.

Kiko is a HUGE fan of treats, but who isn’t? He loves popcorn, sunflower seeds, millet, and sometimes a little piece of chip. He will come sprinting for a little treat but he will just run away when I bring veggies or chop near him. It has made us waste a lot of veggies.

I also tried giving him a cuttlebone for minerals and calcium, but he’s TERRIFIED of it. So, I break off tiny pieces and he nibbles on it. Should I start crushing it on top of his food?

Another thing that Kiko does which freaks me out is that when he sees his dried poop somewhere, he will EAT it! How can I stop this? He has been a bit fussy lately because he is molting and is in a bit of discomfort and feeling itchy, so he’s been getting grumpy easily. If we stop him from something he bites and snaps at us and then makes angry sounds.

PLEASE someone share some solid tips or tricks on a. How I can make this little picky boy eat his veggies and b. Other ways I can incorporate healthy foods\nutrients in his diet.

Thanks to anyone who replies and take care! 🦢 💕
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Birb321

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Sep 14, 2022
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I might rescue a conure or another small parrot
well you can crush up cuttlebone into his food if he doesnt eat it whole. Somtimes birds will eat there own poop, but if they eat there poop often then it could become dangerous, so dont leave poop out and clean it up before he eats it. changing diets can be hard because birds can be fussy and if you do it wrong you bird could starve and die. I am going to post a video about changing your birds diet below
I hope this helps ☺️ :orange:
 

Cottonoid

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My Keiko cockatiel (my son/gf's birdo) ate seeds for a long time and then pellets/seeds for the last few years. He's been very healthy on vet exams so far but of course him eating more fresh foods is always a goal.

Does Kiko try to take food from your plate? If so, you could start putting pieces of different veggies on your plate and eat the rest of your food in front of him, and see if he'll take it.

Has he tried pellets yet? My bird is not a fan of Harrisons or TOPS but he'll eat Roudybush. Keiko likes Harrison's mixed with his seeds.

I can't remember if Kiko has a vet, but you could check with them the next time he's seen for a checkup - the people I know with cockatiels near me all feed seed for at least part of their diet, but that recommendation might be totally different depending on what foods are available where people are (I honestly have NO idea what is vet-recommended for cockatiels since I don't have one myself).

You could also try hanging chunks of food in his cage to see if he'll take bites that way. Sometimes even learning what they don't like helps - Cotton HATES broccoli, like hate hate hates it! So any chop I would try with broccoli would mean he avoids everything else in that chop also for a while.

I think it's great that Kiko likes leafy greens - those are some of the best nutrients for parrots and people!

You're doing a great job always trying to improve things with Kiko, and he'll eventually get there! :)
 

JimsBrother

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Mar 3, 2022
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Bebe my 'Tiel won't touch veggies or fruit. If I offer a carrot to him he runs. He does like Bird Street Bistro, which he gets every day, along with pellets.

For treats he likes millet and cheerios.
 

HeatherG

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Apr 25, 2020
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You could try shredding vegetables with a carrot peeler and mixing in some seeds or millet. I remember my cockatiel liked shredded veggies. Also take a broccoli floret and stamp it into seeds and then stick it through the cage bars, or cut vegetables so their seeds show (that has made my little birds more interested in them). Also you used to be able to buy a metal Rod with a plastic fruit or ball stopping the end. You unscrew the ball and stick the rod through vegetables. Then hang it in the birds cage and it’s like a toy made of food and fun to peck at.

Mostly the problem is that the bird doesn’t understand that the vegetables are food and safe to eat and they need to try them accidentally or get some in their mouth while pecking seeds. Also, of course, you can eat vegetables in front of your cockatiel until he begs for them and then only share reluctantly.

Cooked vegetables from your dinner are ok too as long as they don’t have salt or much butter on them. Because if you’re eating them they must be good.

Sweet potato is healthy and starchy and many birds like it. Corn is also a favorite. I would tear up romaine or spinach and mix in seeds so bird has to peck the seeds off and hopefully get some greens.

Good luck!
 
OP
Safamirza🤍

Safamirza🤍

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Mar 26, 2022
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My Keiko cockatiel (my son/gf's birdo) ate seeds for a long time and then pellets/seeds for the last few years. He's been very healthy on vet exams so far but of course him eating more fresh foods is always a goal.

Does Kiko try to take food from your plate? If so, you could start putting pieces of different veggies on your plate and eat the rest of your food in front of him, and see if he'll take it.

Has he tried pellets yet? My bird is not a fan of Harrisons or TOPS but he'll eat Roudybush. Keiko likes Harrison's mixed with his seeds.

I can't remember if Kiko has a vet, but you could check with them the next time he's seen for a checkup - the people I know with cockatiels near me all feed seed for at least part of their diet, but that recommendation might be totally different depending on what foods are available where people are (I honestly have NO idea what is vet-recommended for cockatiels since I don't have one myself).

You could also try hanging chunks of food in his cage to see if he'll take bites that way. Sometimes even learning what they don't like helps - Cotton HATES broccoli, like hate hate hates it! So any chop I would try with broccoli would mean he avoids everything else in that chop also for a while.

I think it's great that Kiko likes leafy greens - those are some of the best nutrients for parrots and people!

You're doing a great job always trying to improve things with Kiko, and he'll eventually get there! :)
Kiko LOVES taking food from our plates and I’ve tried to trick him into eating his veggies but he always outsmarts us 😭 if I’m eating something unhealthy he will always come to steal it but when it comes to veggies he won’t even look at us. I will take your advices into consideration and thanks for ur sweet reply 💕
 

LeeC

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Jun 5, 2019
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Timneh: Grady;
Senegal: Charlie;
Sun Conure: Peaches (deceased)
Senegal: Georgia
Peach-fronted Conure: Milton (foster)
Brown-throated Conure: Pumpkin (foster)
Senegal: Fletcher
Senegal: Ivy
@Safamirza🤍, I have a few thoughts to offer, some of which are (most unfortunately) nontraditional. I have studied human nutrition deeply for nearly a decade, and I took a greater interest than most in parrot nutrition when I got my first parrot 3 1/2 years ago (because he had several health problems, and mine were all solved with nutrition).

My parrots are on a nontraditional diet, but I work with my avian vet and get them all advanced blood labs at least once a year (after doing so twice in the first year). I can back up a good bit of what I do with one excellent book. Mentioning that book, or its author, has gotten me kicked out of Facebook groups. I hope that doesn't happen here.

1. Cockatiels are not engineered to eat vegetables; so, it is not a natural desire for your parrot.

Like budgies, which are found in the same areas, cockatiels are ground feeders. Their food of choice are seeds: they’ve evolved specifically to be able to shell and eat a seed at turbo speed.
-- https://www.psittacology.com/what-do-cockatiels-eat/

"For the most part, vegetables and grains were not a natural part of a wild bird's diet."
1663764093052.jpeg

--You Can't Take the Rainforest Out of the Bird, ...feeding exotic birds really, really well


2. They can be taught to eat vegetables, more easily at a young age--or, via conspecific observation (watching a same-species parrot eat something often makes them willing to try it). We should be careful which vegetables we offer them. The book pictured and linked above is a fantastic resource!

3. Fat is a nutrient. There are only three macro nutrients: Carbohydrates, fat, and protein. I say again, fat is a nutrient. :] Being a macro nutrient means an organism needs a significant exogenous source of it; or, in plain English they need to eat it in significant amounts.

My parrots are all on a high-fat diet (compared to the norm); but--quality matters! I give them organic red palm oil, grass-fed ghee, pasture-raised (soy-free) eggs, macadamia nuts, etc. The same goes for salt/sodium. It is a nutrient, and quality matters. My parrots get Himalayan pink salt daily, and grey salt periodically. The only blood lab issue I ever had with sodium, was after initially confessing to my avian vet that I was feeding them salt, my Timneh's sodium was a little low. My avian vet, when the labs came back: "I cannot believe I am about to tell you this, but Grady's sodium is a little low. Give him a little more of that salt and we can recheck him in six months."

I have three females and three males. I have had no egg laying and only very minor hormonal issues, in the spring when the daylight hours grow longer. I also foster parrots, and I give them a very similar diet. It is far more likely to resolve issues than cause them. Our phobias of fat and salt is depriving parrots of nutrients.

I am not saying, "Don't feed your 'tiel vegetables, just let him eat seeds". I am just saying, it is hard to get them to eat vegetables for a reason, and getting them to eat vegetables is not as great for them as we are led to believe. It is a fairly unnatural food source for them; however, we cannot provide them with their natural food sources in captivity, so we have to get creative--and learn a lot.
 

Oopsadaysey

Member
Mar 11, 2022
29
37
East Gippsland Australia
Parrots
21yr old LutinoxPearl Quarrion (sorry cockatiel) Munchkin aka The Princess
Munchk1n loves sweet potato, pumpkin, potatoes, corn and silver beet.
Are you certain you have a male - female Cockatiels regularly eat their dry poop ( something to do with getting back calcium etc. both in captivity and the wild. I've never heard of a male doing it .
 

LeeC

Supporting Member
Jun 5, 2019
343
Media
3
393
Harrisburg, PA
Parrots
Timneh: Grady;
Senegal: Charlie;
Sun Conure: Peaches (deceased)
Senegal: Georgia
Peach-fronted Conure: Milton (foster)
Brown-throated Conure: Pumpkin (foster)
Senegal: Fletcher
Senegal: Ivy
I have tried SO many different ways to make Kiko eat veggies to make his diet more healthy. Nutrients from veggies is very important for birds, but Kiko is SOO frustrating to work with :( He just won’t eat veggies. (I have posted twice about this issue) the only thing he is willing to eat is spinach and SOMETIMES a bit of coriander. I have noticed that he’s only willing to try dark leafy greens. I gave him a a bit of kale, and he nibbled on it a bit and then rejected it.
All vegetables are not created equally. Some are higher or lower in nutrients and in anti-nutrients. (https://carnivoreaurelius.com/truth-about-vegetables/) "Herbs" are typically more nutrient-dense, and can be available in fresh, tender-leaf form, which is preferred by parrots.

1663849913131.png

Kiko is a HUGE fan of treats, but who isn’t? He loves popcorn, sunflower seeds, millet, and sometimes a little piece of chip. He will come sprinting for a little treat but he will just run away when I bring veggies or chop near him. It has made us waste a lot of veggies.
The best trick I have found is sprinkling the seed mix on some good chop/veggies. The parrot will inevitably eat some of the chop/veggies in devouring the seed mix, getting them some nutrient diversity and getting them used to the chop/veggies. You can start out with a good bit of seed mix on top the chop at first, then slowly begin to mix it in, then slowly lessen the ratio.
I also tried giving him a cuttlebone for minerals and calcium, but he’s TERRIFIED of it. So, I break off tiny pieces and he nibbles on it. Should I start crushing it on top of his food?
I think Himalayan pink salt is something Kiko might like. My parrots all love it. They will eat it off of a spoon. It is a lot less "salty" than table salt (white salt)--and, it is far more nutritious, containing over 80 different trace minerals.

I would not focus on getting Kiko calcium. Instead, I would focus on getting dietary magnesium, which is necessary for the proper uptake/absorption of calcium.
 
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GretcheNicole1987

New member
Oct 27, 2022
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Idaho
Parrots
A hybrid Sunday Conure
Bebe my 'Tiel won't touch veggies or fruit. If I offer a carrot to him he runs. He does like Bird Street Bistro, which he gets every day, along with pellets.

For treats he likes millet and cheerios.
Cheerios? I never would have thought of those. Just regular not honey right? I think I only have honey at home.
 

HeatherG

Well-known member
Apr 25, 2020
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Cheerios are a bit high calorie for a cockatiel-sized bird, according to a past veterinarian who saw my Quaker.

One is probably fine but not a few cheerios.
 

Oopsadaysey

Member
Mar 11, 2022
29
37
East Gippsland Australia
Parrots
21yr old LutinoxPearl Quarrion (sorry cockatiel) Munchkin aka The Princess
Some foods have completely different meanings in different countries - Cheerios in Australia are small frankfurts so I assume you are feeding Bebe the american snack food. Either way not cockatiel food, both are full of ingredients that are not natural.
 

HeatherG

Well-known member
Apr 25, 2020
3,883
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Some foods have completely different meanings in different countries - Cheerios in Australia are small frankfurts so I assume you are feeding Bebe the american snack food. Either way not cockatiel food, both are full of ingredients that are not natural.
Little doughnut like frankfurters?
 

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