Best Cockatiel Treats for Training & Adding Variety

The healthiest treats to add variety to your cockatiel’s diet are fresh fruits and vegetables. Cockatiels can eat almost any fruit or vegetable we can eat.

Dried fruit, eggs, baby food, hanging treats, and sometimes even cooked meats can also serve as great treats for training and adding variety to the diet.

It’s important to ensure that you are feeding your cockatiel his or her favorite treats for training and entertainment.

Cockatiels will eat almost any food, but each cockatiel will have his or her own preferences.

To figure out what your cockatiel’s favorite food is, pick any food from the lists below and offer him or her a small bite.

If your cockatiel looks like she or he wants more, that means your cockatiel likes that food, and it might be a good treat to use for training.

Keep in mind that every bird is different. Knowing this, I reached out to a parrot expert, Anna, based in South Carolina for her take on treat options for training.

I was surprised by her response, but I think you’ll find it useful:

For purely training purposes, most cockatiels will respond better to purchased treats such as Nutri-berries or millet rather than human food.

Fruits and veggies should definitely be part of their diet, but for training, pull out the “good” stuff.

Quick Answer: List of Treats for Your Cockatiel

Cockatiels can eat almost anything humans can eat. Here are some ideas for what to feed your cockatiel as a treat:

  • Fresh fruit
  • Dried fruit
  • Fresh vegetables
  • Cooked vegetables
  • Cooked meats (occasionally)
  • Eggs
  • Organic baby food
  • Treat sticks formulated for birds
  • Millet sprays formulated for birds

If you’re interested in specifically what to feed your cockatiel for a treat, check out the detailed lists down below.

We’ll also give you information on how to prepare the food for your cockatiel, as well as what foods to never feed your cockatiel.

For a comprehensive list of foods not limited to treats, be sure to check with our article “What Can Cockatiels Eat?

Fresh Fruits Your Cockatiel Will Love

Fruits are a very healthy treat for cockatiels. Cockatiels are prone to vitamin and mineral deficiencies, and fruits are a great way to prevent any deficiency that could lead to health issues.

Veterinarians recommend that cockatiels have at least some fruit in their diets, and using fruit as a treat is a great way to ensure your cockatiel has a balanced diet.

Make sure when you are feeding your cockatiel fruit that it is thoroughly washed, that all seeds are removed, and that it is cut into small pieces.

Here is a list of some perfect fruits to feed your cockatiel as a treat:

  • Apples
  • Apricots
  • Banana
  • Blueberries
  • Cantaloupe
  • Cherries
  • Coconut
  • Grapes
  • Guavas
  • Kiwi
  • Mango
  • Nectarines
  • Oranges
  • Papaya
  • Peaches
  • Pear
  • Pineapple
  • Plum
  • Watermelon

Although these fruits are recommended here, essentially any fruit that you have around the house will be safe to feed your cockatiel as long as you remove the seeds. 

Dried Fruits Safe for Cockatiels

If you do not have fresh fruits in your house but you’d like to feed your cockatiel a sweet treat, dried fruits are also a great option.

Dried fruits have slightly less nutritional value compared to fresh fruits, but they are still good for your cockatiel as long as they are fed in moderation.

These are the dried fruits that we recommend feeding your cockatiel:

  • Dried apricots
  • Dried cranberries
  • Dried dates
  • Dried mangoes
  • Dried papaya
  • Prunes
  • Raisins

Any other dried fruit with the pit removed is safe for cockatiels as well.

You also want to make sure that the dried fruit you feed your cockatiel is unsulfured.

This means that the fruit does not contain a preservative called sulfur dioxide, which is harmful to birds.

You should be able to look at the ingredient list on the bag of dried fruit to see if sulfur dioxide is included.

Fresh Vegetables To Offer Your Cockatiel

A large variety of vegetables offered for sale at a supermarket.

While fruits are a great treat, vegetables typically have more minerals and nutrients compared to vegetables.

So, if you’re deciding whether to feed your cockatiel a fruit or vegetable, a vegetable might be slightly more nutritious. 

Dark-colored fresh leafy greens are probably the best snack you can feed your cockatiel, given he or she likes them.

Most cockatiels should enjoy leafy greens as these are similar to what cockatiels eat in the wild.

Cockatiels can eat almost any vegetable, but here are some that we recommend:

  • Asparagus
  • Beets
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Corn
  • Green Beans
  • Kale
  • Mushroom
  • Peas
  • Potato
  • Pumpkin
  • Romaine Lettuce
  • Peppers (even hot peppers)
  • Spinach
  • String beans
  • Sweet potato
  • Tomatoes
  • Zucchini 

Again, ensure that all of the fresh produce you feed your cockatiel is well washed and is cut up into very small pieces.

It’s no surprise that nutrition plays a key role in your cockatiel’s health and can affect their lifespan drastically, but did you know that other factors contribute to how long your cockatiel will live? Learn more here.

Cooked Vegetables

While fresh vegetables have slightly more nutrients, cooked veggies are also great to feed your cockatiel as a treat.

When feeding your cockatiel, cooked vegetables ensure they are fully cooled, unseasoned (you can add a little salt for flavor), and cut into small pieces.

The best way to cook vegetables for a cockatiel treat is by boiling or steaming. However you cook the vegetables, ideally do not use oil to cook them as oil is unhealthy for cockatiels.

Here are some cooked veggies recommended for feeding your pet cockatiel:

  • Brussels sprouts
  • Eggplant
  • Potatoes
  • Pumpkin
  • Squash
  • Sweet potato
  • Zucchini

Cooked vegetables can be a great, easy option if you don’t have any fresh vegetables in your house and need to whip up some frozen or canned veggies as a healthy treat for your cockatiel.

Cooked Meats Recommended for Cockatiels

Cooked, unseasoned meats can be safe for cockatiels in very small amounts. Here are the meats that are safe to feed to cockatiels:

  • Beef
  • Chicken
  • Fish
  • Pork (fat removed)

It is recommended that most treats you feed your cockatiel are fruits, vegetables, or nuts. However, meat can be a good protein-rich treat for special occasions.

Like with the cooked veggies, make sure you cook the meat by steaming or boiling, and don’t use any oils or seasonings.

The best meats for cockatiels are those that are low in fat, so chicken and lean beef are recommended more than fish or pork.

Nuts To Feed Your Cockatiel as a Treat

In the wild cockatiels eat mainly seeds, which are similar in taste, texture, and nutritional value to nuts.

So, nuts are a healthy, protein-rich treat for your cockatiel. These are a great occasional snack to supplement fruits and veggies.

Here are the recommended nuts to feed your cockatiel for treats:

  • Almonds
  • Cashews
  • Peanuts (unshelled)
  • Pecans
  • Pistachios (unshelled)
  • Walnuts

Make sure whatever nuts you feed your cockatiel are unsalted and do not have a shell. You also may want to chop the nuts into small pieces before feeding them to your cockatiel.

Eggs as a Cockatiel Treat

Eggs are good protein-rich occasional treats. They are packed with vitamins and minerals.

Since they are high in fats they are not highly recommended to feed to cockatiels, but they can be good for a once-in-a-while snack.

Cockatiels can eat eggs cooked in any way; however, we recommend feeding your cockatiel hard-boiled eggs.

Hard-boiled eggs are an easy treat that can be cut up into small pieces without making a mess. 

The best part about feeding your cockatiel hard-boiled eggs is that they can eat the shells.

Eggshells are a great source of calcium, a mineral that cockatiels are often deficient in, so they can be great at preventing illness related to calcium deficiency

Cockatiels can eat eggshells if they are sterilized.

To sterilize, simply crush them up and microwave them for a minute or two, or cook the crushed-up eggshells in a pan with scrambled eggs.

The eggshells can then be fed to your cockatiels alone or with hard-boiled or scrambled eggs.

Organic Baby Food for Cockatiels

If you don’t have fresh fruits or veggies, baby food is a surprisingly healthy treat for cockatiels.

Baby food is formulated to preserve the nutrient content of fresh vegetables, so it may be healthier than regular canned fruits or vegetables.

If you do decide to feed your cockatiel baby food, it’s important to buy organic baby food that isn’t formulated with preservatives.

Check the label on the jar to ensure that the only ingredients in the baby food are fruits and vegetables. Some baby food has sugar, which is unhealthy for birds. 

Stick to baby food with only a couple of ingredients like any of the following:

  • Organic banana puree
  • The organic green bean puree
  • Organic broccoli puree
  • Organic sweet potato puree
  • Organic apple and kale puree

Baby food is a convenient item to keep in your pantry as a treat for your Cockatiel.

Treat Sticks for Cockatiels

Treat sticks are sticks formulated with seeds and fruits sold by pet stores. These are easy options to keep around.

Since they’re specially formulated for birds, most have lots of important nutrients that birds need and are designed to be well liked by your cockatiel.

These treats are especially fun for cockatiels as they can be hung in their cages.

Treat sticks should be used if you have to leave the house for a few hours and need to keep your bird happy and entertained in their cage.

Here are some example flavors of treat sticks that you can feed your cockatiel:

  • Dried apricot, orange, and mango with seeds
  • Dried papaya, apple, carrots, and raspberry with seeds

Try hanging a treat stick in your cockatiel’s cage and see if he or she likes it.

Millet Sprays for Birds

Millet sprays are long stems of millet seeds that can be hung in bird cages. They’re great stimulating treats that help keep your cockatiel active.

Cockatiels are very intelligent animals and need things to play with. Millet sprays help mimic the foraging that your cockatiel would do in the wild.

Millet sprays should be hung in your cockatiel’s cage using an added hanger that attaches to the top of the cage.

You can feed your cockatiel up to one whole millet treat per day.

Unsafe Treats for Cockatiels

While most fruits and vegetables are great treats for cockatiels, there are a few that you must never feed your cockatiel.

Keep these foods in mind and only ever feed your cockatiel foods that you know are safe.

If you’re not sure about the food, do not feed it to your bird. Instead, call your veterinarian and ask if the food is safe, or simply stick to the list of safe treats outlined above. 

Do not feed your cockatiel the following foods as treats:

  • Avocados: They’re a yummy snack for you, but cockatiels should never have avocados. Avocados contain a chemical called persin which can be deadly for birds. 
  • Sweets: It is highly discouraged to feed cockatiels sweets as processed sugar is not good for them. This includes chocolate as it contains theobromine, a compound that can be lethal to birds. If you want to feed them something sweet, stick to fruits. 
  • Rhubarb: This popular garden vegetable should never be given to cockatiels. Rhubarb has oxalic acid which is a toxin that causes kidney issues in birds. Stick to other leafy greens like kale instead.

Cockatiels can eat almost anything you eat, but just make sure if you have a cockatiel that you do not feed them any of the above foods, which can cause mild to severe health issues.

Conclusion

Treats are essential in training your cockatiel, building trust, and making sure he or she does not get bored.

Refer back to this list for lots of safe and healthy treats to feed your cockatiel.

We recommend you mostly stick to fruits and veggies, but nuts, eggs, and hanging treats are also healthy options.

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