Dangers of Sunflower Seeds With Cockatiels

Avian veterinarians suggest cockatiel diets contain 10 percent fat.

Avian veterinarians suggest cockatiel diets contain 10 percent fat.

Sunflower seeds contain 30 percent fat, which can post health risks for cockatiels. Birds given free reign over seed choice will eat more fatty seeds, including sunflower seeds. To keep your bird healthy, know the symptoms of overeating and feed sunflower seeds as part of a balanced diet.


Cockatiels need food and exercise to stay fit. Malnutrition in the form of excess fat is the most common cause of obesity in cockatiels. Since sunflower seeds are so fatty, they must be given in moderation. Overweight birds can struggle to breathe when exercising and may have trouble flying.


It can be tricky to gauge how fat a tiel is, since fat deposits hide beneath the skin. To inspect your pet, part its feathers and look at the skin on its side. Fat will make the skin appear yellowish rather than white or pink. It can also feel jiggly, like fat in humans. If your cockatiel's sides appear fat, there's sure to be more belly fat inside.

Heart Problems

If not checked, obesity can lead to heart problems in cockatiels. Through animal autopsies, overweight tiels that have died after exercising were revealed to have suffered heart attacks. Some birds show no symptoms of heart problems. Symptoms of advanced heart problems may include lameness, vision problems, seizures, and poor coordination. Cockatiels on high fat and high seed diets are at increased risk of heart problems. An avian vet can examine your pet for health problems including heart disease.


While sunflower seeds in excess are dangerous to cockatiel health, these seeds can be given as treats or as a reward for learning a new trick. New, lower-fat sunflower seeds offer the same flavor with fewer complications for avian health. You may feed sunflower seeds as part of a mixed seed bowl so the cockatiel doesn't overeat. In general, keep seeds to 20 to 50 percent of your bird's diet to maintain good health.

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