In fact they can exist largely on a diet of dry seed and water. During recent years their nutritional needs have been more closely studied, and it is now evident that if you want to keep your cockatiel in top condition and achieve great breeding results, you need to offer them a wider range of foodstuffs.
Seed contains carbohydrates, fat and protein, certain vitamins and minerals, as well as a variable percentage of water. Cockatiel’s in the wild forage on the ground and eat grass and seeds as a major part of their diet. Similarly, our pets often get a seed mixture of plain canary seed and a variety of millet seeds. Groats, which is the dehusced form of oats is also a popular choice for breeding birds.
The above seed varieties do not offer a complete and balanced diet for cockatiels, and other foods are essential to compensate for the vitamin and protein deficiencies. The above seeds are cereal based. You will need to give your cockatiel oil based seeds as well.
Sunflower seed is an oil based seed, that is rich in fat, low in carbohydrates and a valuable source of protein and essential amino acids.
Other good additions to the basic seed mixture include hemp seed, which is a round brownish seed which is normally fed during the winter months, as the oil and mineral content is high. Too much hemp on the other hand can lead to obesity.
The best way to supplement your birds diet is to use fresh foods that are moist and can be eaten in their entirety. Banana’s, apple, carrots and a variety of other fresh foods can be offered to your cockatiel. Most cockatiels will prefer green stuff, but few will resist a slice of sweet apple.
Pelleted foods are also good, but it may take a while for your cockatiel to get used to eating the pellets, and will rather go for the seed. The best way to go about getting your bird to eat the pellets is reducing the amount of seed gradually and increasing the amount of pellets.
Try to find a reliable supplier for your cockatiel’s seed. The fresher the seed the better. Old seed will loose a lot of its nutrients. The only way to check if the seed is fresh is to try and sprout it. If it grows, it is fresh. Never store seed for more than three months.