Now that we’ve looked at foods that are good for your bird, let’s look briefly at those that aren’t. Among those foods considered harmful to pet birds are alcohol, rhubarb, avocado (the skin and the area around the pit can be toxic), as well as highly salted, sweetened, and fatty foods.
You should especially avoid chocolate because it contains the chemical theobromine, which birds cannot digest as completely as people can. Chocolate can kill your cockatiel, so resist the temptation to share this snack with her. You also want to avoid giving your bird seeds or pits from apples, apricots, cherries, peaches, pears, and plums, because they can be harmful.
Let common sense be your guide in choosing which foods can be offered to your bird: If it’s healthy for you, it’s probably okay to share. However, remember to reduce the size of the portion you offer to your bird—a smaller cockatiel-sized portion will be more appealing to your pet than a larger, human-sized portion.
While sharing healthy people food with your bird is completely acceptable, sharing something that you’ve already taken a bite out of is not. Human saliva has bacteria that are potentially toxic to birds, so please don’t share partially eaten food with your pet. For your bird’s health and your peace of mind, give your cockatiel her own portion or plate.
For the same reason, please don’t kiss your cockatiel on the beak (kiss her on top of her little head instead) or allow your bird to put her head into your mouth, nibble on your lips, or preen your teeth. Although you may see birds doing this on television or in magazine pictures, it’s really unsafe for your bird’s health and well-being.
What about grit?
As a new bird owner, you may hear a lot of talk about the importance of grit in your bird’s diet. Birds use grit in their gizzard to grind their food, much as we use our teeth. Avian veterinarians and bird breeders do not agree on how much grit birds need and how often it should be offered to them. Some will tell you birds need grit regularly, while others will advise against it.
If your cockatiel’s breeder and your avian veterinarian think your bird needs grit, offer it sparingly (only about a pinch every few weeks). Do not offer it daily and do not provide your cockatiel with a separate dish of grit, because some birds will overeat the grit and suffer dangerous crop impactions as a result.