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Can Cockatiels Eat Pistachios? What You Need to Know!

Nicole Cosgrove

No question about it, pistachios are yummy! You probably occasionally give nuts to your cockatiel, but what about pistachios? Are pistachios safe for cockatiels?

Yes, pistachios are safe for your cockatiel to eat, if they don’t have any salt or other seasonings and are only given in moderation.

Let’s take a deeper look into pistachios and the cockatiel’s typical diet. We also look at how many pistachios are suitable and the best way to give them to your ‘tiel.

divider-birds

All About the Pistachio

Pistachios are technically drupes, which are the same family of fruit as peaches, cherries, and olives. They grow on pistachio trees in hot and dry climates in places such as Turkey, Greece, China, Syria, Iran, and the U.S.

They are eaten in various dishes like ice cream, cookies, and cheesecakes. They can also be used to put a crust on chicken, added to a salad, or just eaten straight out of the shells.

They are excellent sources of antioxidants, protein, fiber, and healthy fats and are known to have several health benefits. They are also abundant in vitamin B6, potassium, thiamine, copper, manganese, and phosphorus.

pistachios-pixabay
Image Credit: Alexas_Fotos, Pixabay

The health benefits of pistachios include:

  • They are high in zeaxanthin and lutein, which contribute to eye health.
  • They contain antioxidants that reduce the risk of certain diseases, for example, cancer.
  • Pistachios are excellent sources of protein and are lower in calories than most other nuts and can aid in weight loss.
  • They have a low GI, which is good for lowering blood sugar levels.
  • They can help lower blood pressure and blood cholesterol.
  • Pistachios contain L-arginine, which assists in blood vessel health.
  • They are high in fiber which helps your gut’s good bacteria.

There’s no doubt that pistachios are a healthy snack, but is there a downside?

Problems With Pistachios

Almost everything out there has risks and pistachios are no exception. Pistachios straight off the tree have little sodium, but salt is added to roasted pistachios that you buy in the store. One cup of roasted pistachios can have as much as half a gram of salt. Too much salt in a diet can lead to stroke, heart disease, and high blood pressure.

Pistachios also contain fructans, and if you’re sensitive to this or eat too many pistachios, it can lead to abdominal pain, bloating, and nausea.

Of course, you can always have too much of a good thing. While they make a great snack when you’re trying to lose weight, too many pistachios can lead to weight gain.

But what about tiels? Let’s look at the cockatiel’s typical diet.

feeding a cockatiel
Image Credit: M. H., Pixabay

A Cockatiel Diet

Cockatiels need a balanced diet that is typically made up of pellets and vegetables, fruits, and occasional treats. Pellets are specially formulated with vitamins, minerals, seeds, grains, fruits, and vegetables and constitute approximately 75% to 80% of your tiel’s diet.

The rest of their diet is made up of primarily vegetables, with some fruit as a treat.

Common vegetables that are good for tiels include:

  • Carrots
  • Peas
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Corn
  • Zucchini
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Carrots
  • Bok choy
  • Kale
  • Watercress
Cockatiels in the cage_ Natalie Mnhc_Shutterstock
Image credit: Natalie Mnhc, Shutterstock

The best fruits include:

  • Papayas
  • Watermelon
  • Cantaloupe
  • Mangos
  • Strawberries
  • Kiwi
  • Apricots
  • Oranges
  • Pears
  • Peaches
Cockatiels-Eat-Peaches_Barbara-Rost_Shutterstock
Image Credit: Barbara Rost, Shutterstock

But how healthy are pistachios for cockatiels?

Cockatiels and Pistachios

Plain pistachios without any additives or seasonings are a healthy snack for your tiel:

  • Protein: Helps with the formation of feathers, which helps manage body temperature
  • Phosphorus: Aids in metabolism, egg and bone formation
  • Copper: Prevents egg abnormalities, issues with feather pigmentation, and amino acid deficiencies; also essential for bones, connective tissues, and healthy blood vessels
  • Potassium: Aids in the production of the protein and glucose metabolism
  • Antioxidants: Aids in eye health and helps prevent heart disease and cancer
  • Fat: Among the lowest in fat for all nuts
  • Manganese: Helps with reproduction and bone growth; prevents slipped tendons, joint dislocation, and poor muscle coordination
pistachios-pixabay
Image Credit: Alexas_Fotos, Pixabay

So, what exactly are the negatives for your cockatiel in eating pistachios?

The Downside of Pistachios for Cockatiels

Pistachios are great snacks, but there are most definitely some issues giving your tiel pistachios.

Salted

One cup of salted pistachios can contain half a gram of salt, which is far too much salt for your tiel!

An increase in a tiel’s salt intake can lead to:

  • Tremors
  • Depression
  • Kidney failure
  • Heart failure
  • Cirrhosis of the liver
  • Neurological disorders
  • Death
cockatiel
Image Credit: jggrz, Pixabay

Too much salt can also lead to your bird suffering from salt toxicity.

The symptoms of salt toxicity include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Increased thirst
  • Weakness
  • Discharge from the beak
  • Leg paralysis
  • Diarrhea

If you’ve given your cockatiel any food with added salt and you notice any of these symptoms, seek out your avian vet immediately.

blue White cockatiel_ONGUSHI_shutterstock
Image Credit: ONGUSHI, Shutterstock

Roasted

Pistachios that you roast yourself and that aren’t salted are fine. But roasted pistachios purchased from the store are typically salted and should be avoided.

Storage

Pistachios are oily nuts and should be stored appropriately, or they can go rancid. They should be kept in a cool and dry cupboard or refrigerator so they can stay fresh and safe for your tiel.

Shells

Pistachios should be purchased either shelled or at least partially open. A closed shell usually indicates that the pistachio nut inside might not be fully ripe.

divider-birds

Conclusion

Pistachios are a healthy snack for cockatiels and humans alike. But while they are good for your tiel, they should be considered a treat, not an everyday part of your tiel’s diet. You can give your cockatiel one or two a day, but it would be better to only give them pistachios a few times a week rather than daily.

You should aim for pistachios that are unsalted and have no added artificial preservatives or ingredients. You can look for healthy pistachios in health food stores, as you should be able to find the right kind that will be safe for your cockatiel.

Speak to your avian vet if you’re concerned about your tiel’s health or diet or if you just have any questions regarding adding pistachios to your bird’s list of treats. Your tiel will enjoy the healthy and tasty treat of the occasional pistachio as long as you only buy the right kind and give it in moderation.


Featured Image Credit: MrGajowy3, Pixabay

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.