About Cockatiels: Feeding, Nutrition, and Cleaning

   Pellets are the recommended type of cockatiel food. I use Kaytee Exact® Pellets, which are available at PetsMart stores. Rainbow pellets are usually well received as well. Pellets contain a high level of protein, so additional protein is not necessary and may even be harmful. There are arguments over whether a diet of pellets is actually better than a diet of seeds. My take on this is that seeds are like chili cheese fries and pellets are like shredded wheat. The pet is going to get more nutrients from the pellets, which are specially formulated for cockatiels. Of course, a well balanced diet for a bird consists of many fruits, vegetables, and grains. Below is a table of nutritional foods available from your own refrigerator, as well as harmful foods.

Healthy Foods Harmful Foods
  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Rice
  • Cheerios and other grain cereals
  • Apples
  • Oranges
  • Grapes
  • Bananas
  • Peaches
  • Watermelon
  • Cooked Pasta
  • Bread
  • Turnip Greens and other dark leafy greens
  • Chocolate (caffeine is harmful)
  • Coffee
  • Milk (lactose intolerant)
  • Avocado
  • Any fruit seeds or cores
  • Alcohol
  • Rhubarb
  • Potato Chips (anything with a lot of salt or fat)

   As you can see, there is plenty of variety here. There are more healthy foods, almost anything you would put in a salad or in a fruit salad you can feed your cockatiel. If in doubt, it's better to avoid that particular food. You'll find that the bird's droppings will be more watery when you are feeding it fruits and veggies. 
   Grit is included in many "beginner kits" that they sell for cockatiels. Not only is it entirely unnecessary, it can harm your bird. Small hookbills (ie cockatiels) crack their seeds open and as such do not require grit for digestion. Canaries, parakeets, and other small birds swallow seeds whole and need the grit to grind up seeds in their gizzard. Grit can impact the crop of your cockatiel, and cause death. So when you are shopping for your cockatiel, just pass up the grit, it doesn't do anything good for your bird.
   When you actually feed your cockatiel, you can give it one scoop of the Kaytee Exact® Pellets. If you are offering plenty of fruits and vegetables also, one scoop generally lasts two days. You may have to give a bit more, depending on how much your bird eats. Vegetables and fruits should only be offered for about four hours before being removed and replaced with fresh greens. You don't have to offer your bird fresh produce many times a day, you can offer it once and remove it later. Again, bacteria will build up on the produce, so it's best to remove it before that can happen. Cheerios and bread, of course, can be left in the cage all day. Water should be replaced every day.

Every day - Replace water in cockatiel's cage
Every other day - Replace food in cockatiel's cage
- Wash food and water bowls
- Clean out the tray (Wash if needed)
Once a month - Clean the grille
- Clean the cage bars if needed

   This is a general guideline that I use in cleaning out my cages. The tray can even be cleaned once every four days if you have only one cockatiel. You should wash the bowls every other day. It takes only a few minutes, and it won't hurt the bird to be without them for a short amount of time. You may notice that grille gets pretty disgusting. Whenever I clean it, I disinfect it as well. You can use bleach, but use a small concentration and make sure to rinse it very thoroughly. An old toothbrush is handy for the grille as well.

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