Cockatiels are among the most popular pet birds. This species of small parrot has several varieties when it comes to coloration and is considered one of the easiest parrots to care for. In fact, they can live up to 25 years in captivity.
Chief among the care considerations for this bird is their diet. They are usually given a combination of pellets, seeds, nuts, fruit, and vegetation. They can also enjoy small amounts of other foods on occasion. For example, cockatiels can be fed most types of rice.
Ideally, the rice should be cooked without seasonings, it should only be fed as an occasional treat, and it may be combined with cut-up fruit or vegetables to enhance its nutritional benefit. Read on for more information on the benefits of feeding rice to cockatiels and other dietary considerations for your pet bird.
The cockatiel is a small species of parrot. It is a popular pet bird because it is small and easy to handle and can be tamed easily. Occasionally, one might learn to say a few words, though this should not be your primary consideration when choosing this species because other parrot species are more prolific linguistically.
Feeding your cockatiels the wrong mixture of seeds can be dangerous to their health, so we recommend checking with an expert resource like The Ultimate Guide to Cockatiels, available on Amazon.
This excellent book will help you balance your cockatiels’ food sources by understanding the value of different seed types, dietary supplements, fruits and vegetables, and cuttlebone. You’ll also find tips on everything from housing to health care!
Rice and Cockatiels
One food that can be fed as an occasional treat is rice. Many different types of rice are considered for cockatiels. These include:
However, some types of rice should be avoided.
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. Thoroughly wash the rice before cooking it. If you’re choosing to prepare rice on a stove, boil the rice, drain off any excess water, and do not include seasoning or other additives during the cooking stage. When preparing rice using a rice cooker, draining isn’t necessary. There’s no right or wrong here, as long as you don’t season the rice. In addition, you should use non-Teflon cookware regardless of the preparation method you use. It is best to 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.
Other Types of Rice
Other forms of “rice” are common in supermarkets now. While termed rice, these often contain a single vegetable. For example, cauliflower rice is essentially just chopped-up cauliflower, used as a replacement for rice because of its lower calorie content. When dealing with these kinds of rice alternatives, it’s advised to check the ingredients to ensure that they are safe for cockatiels.
The 3 Benefits of Feeding Rice to Cockatiels
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. 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.
2. 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, the same isn’t true of your pet bird, which will enjoy the flavor of this occasional diet additive.
3. Source of High-Energy Carbohydrates
Rice is a healthy source of carbohydrates for your parrot. Carbohydrates are a main source of energy and also often provide some fiber. Although your bird does require carbohydrates, it is important not to feed carb-heavy food in too large quantities. Feed rice in moderation and only occasionally to ensure the best results. A high-carbohydrate diet will result in satiety, and birds that feel full but don’t feel like they’ve gotten enough protein will often resort to feather plucking or may continue to overeat and gain weight. It is therefore important to work closely with your vet to understand how you should feed your cockatiel.
The 3 Foods Cockatiels Should Not Eat
Cockatiels enjoy a balanced and varied diet that primarily consists of high-quality pellets, nuts, grains, seeds, and some fruits 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 processed foods to your pets. These have 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 okay, but you should not feed them processed food intentionally, and you should prevent the regular taking of food from your plate.
Caffeine, often found in chocolate, tea, and coffee, is extremely detrimental for pet birds and should not be offered to them in any amount. There are other human foods that are much safer and appropriate for them.
Some birds can show interest in avocado; however, it’s not recommended for all parrots (including cockatiels). The unripe fruit, leaves of the plant, and the pit are all toxic and should not be consumed by your pet bird in any amount.
Cockatiels, like all pets, need a suitable diet that provides all their required nutrients. Although it should not make up the majority of a bird’s diet, most types of rice are considered safe and make a tasty and healthy treat when fed occasionally and in moderation. Although rice is safe when consumed raw, your cockatiel will prefer the rice to be cooked. However, when cooking the rice, it is important to not season the rice, and you should not prepare it in cookware made of Teflon.
Featured Image Credit: Ines Porada, Shutterstock