There's a limitless number of homemade treats you can make for your cockatiel. You can include them in your feathered friend's diet daily provided you use nutritious ingredients like whole grains, cooked and dried beans, fresh vegetables, lean meats and eggs. Leave out extra fats, salt and seasoning.
Whole Bird, Whole Foods
A balanced cockatiel diet is zoo-quality cockatiel pellets, fresh vegetables, a little bit of fresh fruit and nutritious treats. Cockatiels do not eat much fruit in the wild, and they are not that big on sweets. The homemade treats your cockatiel will enjoy most are protein snacks, carbs and lightly cooked veggies.
The most highly prized tiel snacks are, conveniently, the easiest to make. Most cockatiels love shredded, cooked meat and hardboiled eggs that are mashed with the shell on. Chicken is especially nutritious. Some owners freak out that this is cannibalism because they're both birds -- fear not. It's no more cannibalism than you eating your fellow mammal the hamburger.
Many excellent and nutritious recipes for birdy bread have your cockatiel in mind. Most use a basic bread recipe or packaged muffin mix and add mashed veggies. You can add eggs with or without the ground shells (the shells help your bird meet her high calcium requirement; it's natural for birds to eat shells in the wild), fresh or dried fruits and blackstrap molasses (high in iron and calcium). Avoid canned fruits packed in syrup and mixes that contain high-fructose corn syrup -- your 'tiel doesn't need the added sugar and isn't equipped to enjoy it much, either.
Birds love pasta -- it's a well-known fact among bird enthusiasts. They're also partial to hearty casseroles and will not turn down a delicious bean stew. Your cockatiel will relish hot cereals (cooled, of course).
There are huge numbers of recipes available through cockatiel clubs; they'll keep you slaving over a hot stove for days in service to your feathered master. In the meantime, you can adjust most of your own meals into tasty treats for your 'tiels by removing liquid cow milk, oil, butter, salt and spicy seasonings.
A few foods you should always avoid because they can poison your cockatiel. Rhubarb and avocado top the list of toxins, along with the usual suspects coffee, tea and chocolate. Shellfish, whole peanuts and nuts are dangerous because they can harbor bird-poisoning bacteria and fungi.
Feed meaty treats and cooked eggs the same day you prepare them. Refrigerating and reheating these can really upset your 'tiel's delicate tummy.
Beware of recipes and mixes that contain milk. Your bird cannot digest lactose. Substitute cottage cheese or yogurt -- all of the lactose in these foods gets digested by the little buggers that perform the culturing process, and most cockatiels enjoy these bird-safe dairy products very much.
Angela Libal began writing professionally in 2005. She has published several books, specializing in zoology and animal husbandry. Libal holds a degree in behavioral science: animal science from Moorpark College, a Bachelor of Arts from Sarah Lawrence College and is a graduate student in cryptozoology.