What Types of Bird Seeds Do Cockatiels Eat?

Cockatiels enjoy cracking seeds in their beaks.
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Seeds, fruits, vegetables and bird pellets are part of a healthy cockatiel diet, but the wrong seeds can make your bird fat. To keep your cockatiel healthy, feed him 1 to 2 tablespoons of mixed seed per day, using a seed mix that contains some of these recommended 'tiel favorites.

Canary Seed

Canary seed is native to the Canary Islands, where the ancestors of today's canaries were born. Although the name might make you think otherwise, canary seed is recommended for cockatiels. Canary seed doesn't have enough protein to offer cockatiels all needed nutrients, but it offers carbohydrates for energy.


Millet, in particular foxtail millet, makes a healthy seed addition to your cockatiel's diet. Millet is sold as seed, millet spray, or dried-out stalks of millet. It is small and round, with a whitish seed coating. Millet spray makes a nice bird treat, while seeds can be given as part of a cockatiel seed mix. High in carbohydrates, millet provides energy for birds like cockatiels.


While cockatiels really love eating sunflower seeds, think of these as more of a treat for your bird and not a diet staple. They're a good incentive when training or rewarding your pet. Sunflower seeds are naturally high in fat, and too many of these can make your bird plump. If your bird gets too many sunflower seeds, he may avoid other, more nutritious foods. Lower-fat sunflower seeds, when available, make a healthier option for everyday eating.


Safflower seed works well for cockatiels, because it offers both protein for nutrition and carbohydrates for energy. Safflower seed is lower in fat than sunflower, so it can be part of your bird's regular diet. These seeds resemble sunflower seeds in shape and are whitish-brown in color, where sunflower seeds may be tan or black.

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