Cockatiel must eat more than birdseed
Question: My veterinarian suggested my pet cockatiel diversify his diet. Isn't his bird food enough?
Answer: The old saying "You are what you eat" applies to both people and pets. Since pet birds rely on you for their diet, it is important to supplement each meal with a variety of fruits and vegetables for balanced nutrition.
A quality, commercial pellet should be served as a staple diet. Add variety by including fruits, vegetables, cereals, cooked white rice and proteins such as beans, eggs or meats. Throw in a few seeds as a treat, but remember not to allow your bird to eat too many, as they are considered junk food. Eating a seed diet leads to malnutrition, health problems and a shorter life span.
Q: But my cockatiel only wants to eat the seeds from his mix. What can I do to ensure that he eats a balanced diet?
A: Like people, birds will begin to prefer certain types of foods. You should adjust the quantities of the different foods you give him so that he samples everything and doesn't fill up on a favorite. Your cockatiel's dietary needs vary from other breeds, so it's best to check with your avian veterinarian.
A fun, yummy bird snack is made by filling a few macaroni noodles with creamy peanut butter. Or, watch in awe as he chomps through fresh chili or banana peppers, which most humans have trouble eating because they can't handle the heat.
Also, be sure he always has fresh water. And keep food and water cups anchored, clean and free of droppings.
Q: Are there foods he shouldn't eat?
A: While sharing people food with your pet bird is fun, there are a few common human foods that should be avoided, including chocolate, avocado, salt and dried beans (thoroughly cooked beans are acceptable).
Because birds hide illness quite well, contact your veterinarian if you notice a sudden decrease in behavior, such as loss of appetite or activity, as it might require medical care.
The Hawaiian Humane Society
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. Indicate "Pet Ohana" in the subject line. Or, write "Pet Ohana," Hawaiian Humane Society, 2700 Waialae Ave., Honolulu 96826.