If you have a pet cockatiel, then one of your responsibilities is taking care of their diet and nutrition. While these birds must consume a variety of pellets, seeds, fruit and vegetables, you may be wondering about other foods such as bread. Is bread safe to offer and is there any benefit in doing so? I’ve conducted some research on the topic which I would like to present to you below.
So, can cockatiels eat bread? Cockatiels can eat bread. They typically like to consume toasted bread as it is more crunchy and dry. However, cockatiels should eat bread in limited quantities, infrequently and in moderation. You should also look to provide organic, wholemeal options that provide more nutrients and are free from preservatives, additives, and excess sugar/salt.
If your like me and bread is a staple in your diet, you may be thinking of giving your bird the odd crust here and there. Thankfully this is safe to do!
But, even though this food is a good treat, you have to be careful with how much you feed. With any human food, it is important to feed it in moderation because it was not designed for their unique digestive system and constitution.
Naturally there are some things to be aware of and to consider when feeding bread. Implementing the suggestions that are to follow below will ensure that your cockatiel thrives and gets all the nutrients they need to live a long and happy life.
Giving Your Cockatiel Bread
If you’ve ever attempted to provide some bread to your cockatiel already, you may have noticed that they like to consume it. In fact, many cockatiel owners report that their birds love to consume toasted bread; which is crunchy and more dry.
While this may lead you to believe that it is an optimal snack, bird experts would emphasize that bread should be offered infrequently and as a snack. You also need to be particular about the type of bread you provide.
Bread, should only be given 1-2 times per week (in limited quantities).
Here is why:
Conventional store bought bread is mostly devoid of nutrients. Due to the production and processing, a lot of the vitamins and minerals have been stripped out. While bread may fill the stomach of your bird, it is not providing them with the nutrition they need for optimal health and resistance to infection.
Moreover, a lot of conventional bread is high in additives, preservatives and other components that are not beneficial for your bird. Sugar and salt are those in particular to be aware of.
Salt: Cockatiels are very sensitive to salt and too much in the diet can lead to kidney and other organ issues. You therefore need to carefully manage their consumption of this mineral.
Sugar: is problematic in the fact that it is high in calories relative to nutrition. Too much will lead to the gaining of weight in your bird which is not conductive to good health. This will also lead to increased chances of other health issues and place extra stress on your bird.
While this all may paint a pretty negative picture of bread; this does not mean that it should not ever be fed. It just means you should seek out higher quality bread (or better yet bake some yourself with some organic whole wheat flour).
Here are the various options of bread, and the types that cockatiels can and would do better to eat:
Types of Bread
Bread can be a tasty snack; but you must ensure that you are providing bread without added salt. Low sodium options are advised.
It is also thoroughly recommended that you seek out a baker or purchase a fresh, minimally processed loaf. Conventional loaves are generally not a good idea. Always check the labels to see the list of ingredients.
To prevent the chance of suffocation, it is also a good idea to make bread crumbs out of your bread. This is in effect breaking them down, making them easier for your bird to consume and digest.
Another good idea is to provide an easily accessible dish of water nearby, this will help your bird to swallow the bread if required.
While there are many different bread types on the market; here are the most common and whether or not a cockatiel should be eating them:
This is the least preferable type of bread to feed and you should not look to do so. There is not any real benefit in providing it. There are no nutrients in white bread (all have been removed).
While you could offer a small portion of white breadcrumbs very occasionally without harm, it is not serving your bird in any way.
This is slightly more nutritious than white, but it is also not the best option of bread out there. The added fiber in brown bread will help your bird to digest the carbohydrates more slowly leading to more stable blood glucose levels.
Again, you should look to make breadcrumbs out of brown bread if this is something you are looking to serve.
Moving onto a Scandinavian bread that is often cited for its health-boosting properties in humans; this is a slightly better option still.
While it does have more vitamins, minerals and fiber (than white or brown breads), it is actually more difficult for your bird to break down and digest. Rye bread is generally more dense and heavy making it harder for your bird.
This can be fed infrequently as a snack, but you need to be very careful with quantities provided.
Sourdough bread is another you often see cited for its health properties. For cockatiels, these benefits are not really acquired.
While you can feed a small amount of sourdough bread (in the form of breadcrumbs) and while it is not an overly processed food (meaning more nutrients and vitamins are present), it can be problematic. This is due to the the fermentation involved in its production.
Its also quite sour (hence the name) and some birds may not enjoy eating it.
You’ll have to try it and see; but always offer small amounts.
Whole Wheat Bread
This is the best option and bread to serve to your cockatiel as a snack.
Being rich in natural whole-grains, a lot of the nutrition still remains in tact. Your bird will also benefit from the carbohydrate content, alongside the fiber to help slow down the digestion process. This will help to give your bird more consistent energy.
Again, this should not be fed to often and you still need to be careful. It is usually quite a dry bread so birds can easily suffocate on it.
You can help your cockatiel digest whole wheat bread by breaking it down into breadcrumbs or even making it soggy by dipping it or soaking it in water beforehand.
Banana bread is delicious, and cockatiels are renown for enjoying fruits like bananas. They also have a lot of vitamins and minerals that can serve your bird.
Banana bread is okay to feed to your cockatiel and sometimes it can be preferable. The added moisture will help your bird to digest it.
However, banana bread is high in sugar and overall calories. If you did decide to provide it you need to be extra careful of the quantity.
A lot of store bought banana bread loaves are also likely to have added sugar/additives/preservatives. Making your own is therefore advised.
Garlic bread should never be given. Garlic contains toxic compounds and even in small doses can cause a whole host of negative health issues.
Digestive issues is expected even in small doses, yet there have reports of hemolytic anemia in birds who have consumed garlic.
Moreover, garlic bread is usually pretty high in butter and fat, of which birds like cockatiels should not be consuming too much of. Butter is also usually high in salt (sodium) and cholestrol which again would not be serving the health of your bird.
It make sense to play it safe and avoid garlic bread altogether.
Can Baby Cockatiels Eat Bread?
Baby cockatiels would do best not to consume bread of any variety. The risks outweigh the rewards.
Baby cockatiels are at higher risk of chocking and suffocating on bread; even if it has been broken down into smaller breadcrumbs.
Bread is dry, and even adult cockatiels can struggle consuming it. So if you ever was to try and provide bread to your baby cockatiel, you need to do so with the utmost care and consideration.
Very small breadcrumbs and soaking in water are mandatory.
What Cockatiels Should Eat
Cockatiels do best with a diet that consists of:
- High Quality and Nutritious Pellets (75%)
- Seeds (10%)
- Fruits and Vegetables (10%)
- Other healthy snacks (5%)
Feeding your cockatiel a varied diet is strongly recommended. This will ensure they are in better health, have a high tolerance to infection and that they grow a beautiful strong coat of feathers.
Here are some suggestions to ensure a nutritionally replete and healthy diet:
- The majority of your cockatiels diet should consist of pellets. These are specially formulated to be nutritionally complete and balanced; resulting in better health, feathering and well-being of your bird.
- Provide a high quality seed blend, like the Sleek & Sassy Garden Diet (which you can get for a great price on Amazon). This will provide nutritional variety and let your bird consume a diet more aligned with their wild counterparts.
- Provide a variety of fruits and vegetables. Experiment to discover your birds favorites. Color and size can initially put a bird off. Strawberries, Grapes, Apples (minus the seeds), Carrots and Broccoli are good choices.
- Cut foods into smaller pieces to help them consume them.
- Good protein sources include mealworms, other types of insects and lean meats like chicken.
- Nuts can be provided as treats and do come with protein/vitamins and mineral. Cashews and walnuts are generally enjoyed.
- Vitamin supplements are advised to ensure your birds meet their requirements. You should look to add a recommended one to your birds water and ensure they drink it. Be sure not to provide too much. This is my go to from Amazon.
- Avoid problematic, toxic and spoiled foods including: Avocado, Iceburg Lettuce, Caffeine, Chocolate, Shellfish.
- Eating in front of your bird can give them the confidence to try it themselves.
- Avoid foods high in fat, sugar and salt
- Moving a cockatiel from a seed-based diet to a varied one will take time, perseverance and patience.
Cockatiels can eat bread. However, it should be considered and offered as a treat. It should never make up more than 5% of your birds overall and varied diet.
When offering bread, you should always seek out whole wheat options. You’ll want to mostly avoid store bought breads that contain additives, preservatives and too much salt and suagr.
Instead, finding a baker or even baking a loaf yourself is considered a better option.
Lastly, be careful with the amount of bread you feed, and look to break it into breadcrumbs/soak it into water before you offer it. This will help your bird to swallow and digest it.
Offering bread can be a fun and enjoyable experience for you and your bird. Your cockatiel will likely enjoy it and it serves as a opportunity to bond with your bird.
If your cockatiel does not like bread; do not worry – they’re not missing out on much. Simply move onto the next treat and see if this serves them better.
I am a practiced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site I created to share everything I’ve learned about pet ownership over the years and my extensive research along the way.