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Can Cockatiels Eat Cabbage? What You Need to Know!

Nicole Cosgrove

Friendly and social cockatiels enjoy a variety of foods in their diet. Many of them are safe for your bird, while others are strictly forbidden. Birds have small and sensitive digestive systems, so it doesn’t take much of a toxic food to quickly cause problems. With any animal, but birds especially, it’s important to know what’s safe for them to consume and what’s not in order to avoid innocently handing your pet something that they should not eat. Cockatiels, like many other birds, enjoy fresh fruit and vegetables regularly. These are beneficial supplements to keep your bird from getting bored, while providing balanced nutrition. When you’re checking out the produce drawer in the fridge to see what you can offer your avian friend today, you might see cabbage and think that it’s a perfect choice. It’s crunchy and will be a low-calorie treat. Unfortunately, conflicting information is reported about the safety of cabbage for cockatiels. When there is even a slight chance that something might not be good for your animal, it’s best to err on the side of caution and avoid it. With so many other things that your cockatiel can safely eat, they won’t miss cabbage.

divider-multiprintIs Cabbage Toxic to Cockatiels?

Can a cockatiel eat cabbage? Yes. Should they eat cabbage? Probably not. Toxic foods are foods that are poisonous to your animal, causing instant illness or worse. When it comes to cabbage, it isn’t on the toxic food list. Your bird likely won’t be poisoned by it. If you’ve fed some to your little friend already, don’t worry. The thing about cabbage is that it contains oxalic acid. This acid binds to the calcium in the food, making it unable to be absorbed in the body. Oxalic acid is thought to lead to calcium depletion in birds. Some people believe that this is dangerous, and they avoid giving their birds cabbage altogether. If your cockatiel was only eating cabbage, not only would it likely deplete their calcium levels, but it would also lead to one sick bird. Cockatiels get their nutrition from many different foods, including those that are rich in calcium. The oxalic acid in a small amount of cabbage probably wouldn’t be enough to deplete all their calcium values.

But My Cockatiel Loves Cabbage

If that’s the case, your bird could probably enjoy a small amount safely once in a while, but it shouldn’t be a regular staple in their diet. Your avian vet could suggest a diet plan that will ensure that your bird’s nutrition is complete, so the extra cabbage treats won’t be harmful.

Providing a bird with proper nutrition can be difficult to do when they like to pick and choose what they consume. Digging through their food cups to select only the tastiest parts is something that birds enjoy. Poor nutrition is a leading cause of health problems in birds. If your bird is healthy and their nutritional needs are met, cabbage can be something that they enjoy in strict moderation. Cabbage provides little nutritional value and would be eaten simply because it’s something that the cockatiel likes to physically eat, not something that’s going to contribute to their long-term health.

What Can I Give My Bird Besides Cabbage?

Since a proper diet is so hard to ensure for a bird, feeding them pellets is an easy way for them to get all their nutrition. Pellets, combined with fresh fruits and vegetables, will give your bird a variety of foods to keep them happy. Pellets can be boring, though, so make sure your cockatiel is actually eating them and not just sticking to the supplemental foods.

Foods That Are Safe for your bird
  • Apple
  • Cantaloupe
  • Bananas
  • Grapes
  • Carrots
  • Broccoli
  • Spinach
  • Cottage cheese

Always be sure to thoroughly wash any fruits or vegetables to remove pesticides before offering them to your cockatiel. Offer the foods in small pieces, and remove and throw away any uneaten food. Be sure fresh water is available at all times.

Cockatiels Eat broccoli_Trine Nordeng_Shutterstock
Image Credit: Trine Nordeng, Shutterstock

What to Never Feed a Cockatiel

While cabbage might be okay as a sometimes food, there are certain foods that you should never give to your bird:

Certain Foods You Should Never Give To Your Bird:
  • Anything with salt
  • Chocolate
  • Avocados
  • Onions
  • Caffeine

Check with your vet before offering your bird anything new to make sure it’s okay to add to their diet.

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Final Thoughts

While the conflicting reports about cabbage remain, it’s important to remember the potential risks of the food and decide if it’s worth giving to your bird. If your cockatiel has never had cabbage, they aren’t missing it. If they love cabbage, they may be able to enjoy it in moderation. But whether you have a cabbage-lover or a cabbage-newbie, make sure your bird’s diet is nutritionally complete. There are many healthy food choices out there for your cockatiel, so you can create a diet that’s exciting and tasty and keeps them in great shape.


Featured Image Credit: Jolanta Beinarovica, Shutterstock

Nicole Cosgrove

Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.