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Can Cockatiels Eat Rice? What You Need to Know!

Nicole Cosgrove

Cockatiels are one of the most popular pet birds. They are a species of small parrot that has a distinctive combination of grey and yellow coloring and are considered one of the easiest parrots to care for. Well cared for, they can live up to 25 years in captivity. Chief among the care considerations for this bird is diet. They are usually given a combination of seeds, nuts, fruit, and vegetation. They can also enjoy small amounts of meat, fed occasionally. Cockatiels can also be fed rice, either white or brown.

Ideally, the rice should be cooked and it should only be fed as an occasional treat and may be combined with cut-up fruit or vegetables to enhance the nutritional benefit of the food. Read on for more information on the nutritional benefits of feeding rice, and other dietary considerations for your pet bird.

divider-birdsAbout Cockatiels

The cockatiel is a small species of parrot. It is a popular pet bird because it is small, easy to handle, and can be tamed easily. Occasionally, one might learn to say a few words, although this should not be your primary consideration when choosing this species because it is more likely that yours will chirp and chirp, rather than speak.

baby cockatiel
Image Credit: Anne Stauf, Pixabay


A cockatiel cage should be 2 x 2 x 2½ feet to allow room for movement and rest. An indoor cage should be kept off the floor and in a spot that is not prone to sudden and dramatic temperature changes. Kept alone or in pairs, the cockatiel is usually kept as a solitary species because they can pick on smaller birds.

The more time you spend with your cockatiel, the friendlier and better domesticated it will become. The small parrot species enjoys time with its owner, and this is especially important if kept indoors and kept alone.

The bird’s diet primarily consists of seeds and they enjoy a varied diet that consists of a good variety of different foods. Commercial food is available, and this can be supplemented with other items.

Rice and Cockatiels

One food that can be fed as an occasional treat is rice. White or brown rice is considered safe for a cockatiel to eat, although brown and wild rice are preferred because they contain a higher concentration of nutrients that benefit the bird.

Cockatiels Eat Rice
Image Credit: Nipa Noymol, Shutterstock

How To Prepare Rice for Your Cockatiel

Always choose basic rice, rather than one that has been seasoned or processed as human food. Too much salt, or the inclusion of ingredients like garlic and onion, means that processed foods are not good for pet birds.

Although your cockatiel can eat raw, uncooked rice, it is better to cook it first. Cooking will soften the rice and bring out the flavors. Your bird will appreciate the effort. Boil the rice, drain off any excess water, and do not include seasoning or other additives during the cooking stage. Absolutely avoid packaged rice and rice meals meant for human consumption.

Once cooked, you can add some chopped vegetables. This will help improve the nutrient profile of the treat and may make it even more appealing.

Cockatiels Eat Rice from a mans hand
Image Credit: Snoopy0107, Shutterstock

Types of Rice

Although you can feed any type of rice to your bird, whether it is brown, white, or wild rice, there is greater nutritional benefit in feeding brown or wild varieties.

Benefits Of Feeding Rice

1. Easy to Get

When the pet food store is closed, you can still readily find stores that sell rice. It is available, unseasoned and unflavored, from most superstores and even convenience stores. In fact, there’s a good chance you have some in your cupboard now. While it shouldn’t be fed as a replacement for a full diet, it is convenient and readily available.

Image Credit: allybally4b, Pixabay

2. A Tasty Treat

Cockatiels are not known as overly picky eaters, but they do enjoy some foods and treats more than others. While to us, unseasoned rice might seem bland and boring, the same isn’t true of your pet bird, who will enjoy the flavor of this occasional diet additive.

3. High Energy Carbohydrates

Along with pasta and foods like sweet potato and oatmeal, rice is a healthy source of carbohydrates for your parrot. Carbohydrates are a main source of energy and help ensure that dietary fiber is used efficiently and properly. Although your bird does require carbohydrates, it is important not to feed carb-heavy food in too large quantities. Feed in moderation and only occasionally to ensure the best results.

Image credit: Pxhere

What Cockatiels Should Not Eat

Cockatiels enjoy a balanced and varied diet that primarily consists of seeds but also some fruit and vegetables. Not everything is considered healthy or safe for your cockatiel, however, and you should avoid giving your bird the following foods.

1. Processed Foods

You should always avoid feeding any animal processed foods. They use salt and sugar, as well as other additives, that can prove harmful to the avian system. In most cases, if your cockatiel does pinch a small piece of food off your plate, it should be OK, but you should not feed processed food intentionally and you should prevent the regular taking of food from your plate.

Cockatiel eating peanut butter
Image Credit: MabelAmber, Pixabay

2. Too Much Salt

Too much salt can prove toxic to a small bird and even a small amount can upset the balance of electrolytes in your feathered friend. They can become dehydrated and it can even lead to kidney failure. Avoid feeding salty foods altogether, and ensure that your cockatiel does not have easy or regular access to human foods that might contain lots of salt.

3. Avocado

Some birds can safely eat some types of avocado, but the pit, rind, and the plant itself and some of the fruit can contain a substance called persin. This fatty acid can cause heart damage and respiratory problems in birds, and your best bet to avoid this potentially fatal ingredient is to avoid feeding any avocados at all.

Image Credit: stevepb, Pixabay

divider-birdsCan Cockatiels Eat Rice?

Cockatiels make good pets. They are friendly and amenable and can be affectionate. They do need space to move, benefit from time with their owners if they are kept alone, and they need a suitable diet that provides all their required nutrients. Although it should not make up the majority of a bird’s diet, rice is considered a tasty and healthy treat when fed occasionally and in moderation. Although safe when consumed raw, your cockatiel will prefer the rice to be cooked. And, although white rice is just as readily eaten and equally beneficial, brown and wild rice are preferred for their improved nutritional contents.

Featured Image Credit: Ines Porada, 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.