Cockatiels are known for their bright orange-yellow color, friendly demeanor, and ability to mimic human speech. These birds have a diet consisting primarily of grains like corn and millet seed; however, they also need vitamin C to stay healthy.
This is where oranges come into play! Oranges provide the necessary vitamin C for cockatiels while adding flavor and texture to their food dish. So, the answer is yes—cockatiels can eat oranges. How much of the citrus fruit can they safely consume? Read on to find out more!
What Do Cockatiels Eat in the Wild?
Cockatiels are native to Australia and New Guinea. As you may know, a captive cockatiel’s normal diet consists of grains like millet seed, sunflower seed, and safflower. However, the cockatiel does not have access to these food sources in the wild since they live in the bush—grassy habitats without any man-made structures or agriculture fields nearby.
Instead, cockatiels eat grass seeds that provide them with adequate protein while adding important nutrients to their diets. Specifically, vitamin C. To absorb all of these essential vitamins and minerals from their food source, cockatiels have evolved a vomit-inducing toxin called “bafflers.” This helps break down indigestible plant matter like cell walls in the stomach.
What Is a Cockatiel’s Diet in Captivity?
In captivity, humans feed their cockatiels manufactured birdseed instead of the wild grains that resemble those found in their natural habitat.
Cockatiel owners can provide their birds with vitamin C by soaking grains in orange juice before offering them to the bird. Most cockatiels will not consume these foods because the grain texture is too dense for them, so they need help getting them moist and chewable. A good technique is to soak organic grains in a 50/50 mixture of orange juice and water when introducing your pet birds to solid food. This makes it easier to get them used to eating healthy grains while ensuring enough vitamin C going into their diet.
Cockatiels are strict vegetarians, so they do not usually eat animal products like cheese or meat products like steak.
Can Cockatiels Eat Orange Peels and Seeds?
Cockatiels generally won’t eat orange peels because they cannot digest the outer rind of citrus fruits, thanks to their ‘crop’, a special stomach organ responsible for storing food and softening it prior to digestion. If your pet is a special case and tries to eat it anyway, you might have to feed it to them without it.
Remember that the peels might also contain pesticides and other harmful chemicals, so keep them away from your bird.
You should remove the seeds from the orange before giving them to your cockatiel. Some cockatiels will eat the orange seeds, but they are rich in fat and should be offered in moderation. Usually, we offer them whole during training to get used to eating bigger objects first.
How to Feed a Cockatiel an Orange?
The recommended dosage of oranges to feed your cockatiel is approximately 10% of its daily food intake. Oranges should be fed as a snack, and not the main source of nutrition. One or two slices should suffice.
What Happens If a Cockatiel Lacks Vitamin C?
The lack of vitamin C will result in scurvy and lethargy. This is more likely to occur when cockatiels are malnourished or fed bad food that doesn’t meet their dietary needs. Vitamin C deficiency can also cause your pet bird’s urine to change colors, so you must keep an eye out for these symptoms if you notice any changes!
What Happens If You Feed Your Cockatiel Too Much
Do not exceed the recommended 10% of daily consumption guidelines. A slice or two should be more than enough.
You should now know how to feed your pet bird an orange without it being unsafe for them! If you are interested in learning more about cockatiels and ways on how to care for them, check out our blog section for all sorts of good information about these beautiful birds. There, we will also help answer any other questions you might have about keeping cockatiels as pets.
Featured Image Credit: Barbara Rost, Shutterstock
Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts’ knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.