I have almost always kept my cockatiel’s and my parakeet’s food separate, but recently as I was feeding my parakeets a new brand of parakeet food, I started wondering if it would be safe for them to share their food.
After all, they’re quite similar birds.
So, I decided to look into it: can cockatiels eat parakeet food?
The answer is yes, cockatiels can eat parakeet food. Parakeets and cockatiels have very similar builds and dietary requirements, so whatever you feed to your parakeet is going to be safe for your cockatiel. Most parakeet food consists mostly of seeds, which your cockatiel will love.
While, in general, it is best to give your cockatiel food designed for cockatiels, they will enjoy parakeet food.
Cockatiels are on average slightly larger than parakeets, but overall, their diets are very similar.
Cockatiels do need a slightly higher calorie intake, but essentially this would just mean more of what you would give to a parakeet.
What exactly do we mean by parakeet food?
We might mean a few different things by this phrase.
In the simplest sense, parakeet food is pre-packaged food produced to make up the main part of a parakeet’s diet.
As I said, this is usually a bag of mixed seeds.
In a broader sense, by parakeet food we just mean anything that a parakeet can or will eat.
Largely, this is more or less identical to a cockatiel.
Parakeets like vegetables, fruit and seeds primarily, all of which are great for your cockatiel!
In particular, parakeets love tropical fruit, like mango, coconut, and watermelon.
Your cockatiel will love all of these as well.
Nuts and grains are also a great option for both parakeets and cockatiels.
Grains are much lower in nutrients than other things like nuts and seeds, so they’re best kept to a minimum in your bird’s diet, but if it seems to love them, they’re a great addition.
How are cockatiels and parakeets different?
Parakeets, or budgies, and cockatiels are very similar then as we have seen, but it’s important to note how they’re different too.
Both are quite small birds.
Parakeets on average weigh between 30-40 grams, depending of course on species.
Cockatiels weigh on average around 90 grams, so though they are both small, there’s still quite a considerable size difference.
This is important for their respective diets.
They also have some variety in temperament, although overall they are again very similar.
However, this may be important as cockatiels are notoriously picky eaters sometimes.
Though both are smart, cockatiels have slightly higher intelligence.
This can make it harder to get them to do what you want them to.
Often, cockatiel owners report that their cockatiel will only eat seeds.
Since it’s important to get your cockatiel to eat a variety of foods, you may need to spend a bit more time convincing them than you would with a parakeet.
Individual parakeets and cockatiels therefore could have very different preferences, so it’s important to closely monitor each of their diets and make sure they’re getting the individual nutrition they need.
What main foods should I feed my parakeet and my cockatiel?
Since fundamentally cockatiels and parakeets eat the same diet, let’s cover what you should feed them for a fully balanced diet, and what minor differences there might be.
Since seeds and grains are usually what are sold as parakeet food, let’s first look at this.
Seeds are a staple of both parakeet and cockatiel diets, and will probably be one of their favorite foods too.
Your parakeet and your cockatiel can certainly share this kind of food, though cockatiels may benefit from more sunflower seeds than would come in parakeet food, but don’t let your parakeet share these.
Fruits and vegetables will make up most of the rest of their diets, and certainly, the two birds can share these.
Both birds should be fed specialized pellet food as well.
A variety of formulas exist which would undoubtedly be healthy for both birds, often flavored with natural fruit flavors in order to help convince your cockatiel it will be good for them.
Often these pellets will contain around 75% of what your cockatiel needs for a healthy diet, which you can then top off with fresh fruits, nuts and seeds as varied treats.
What if my cockatiel won’t eat parakeet food?
Cockatiels are notorious for doing their own thing and being their own masters.
In some cases, your cockatiel might just not like parakeet food, and won’t eat it.
In this case, you’ll have to establish what exactly your individual cockatiel does eat.
Often, they just won’t eat pellets, and will only eat seeds or fruits and greens.
In this case, there’s a few things you can try.
First of all, try switching your parakeet onto cockatiel pellets, as your cockatiel is more likely to try these and your birds would still be able to share.
Leave some pellets out during your cockatiel’s natural foraging hours, in the morning and the evening.
This may convince it to try them.
You can also mix pellets and seeds together to try and convince your cockatiel to eat them.
This can make it harder to see if they’ve eaten them, though.
If all else fails, try crushing up some pellets and sprinkling it over leafy greens or fruit.
This will ensure your cockatiel is getting the nutrition it needs while remaining fussy.
Concluding, then, the answer is clear that any food safe for your parakeet will be safe for your cockatiel.
These two birds have a very similar weight, diet and disposition, meaning that they will both benefit from and enjoy eating the same foods.
Whether you’ve got a fussy cockatiel who will only steal its parakeet friend’s food and ignore their own or the other way around, you can rest assured that they can share each other’s food and still get all the nutrition they need.
The important thing to remember is that cockatiels and indeed parrots of all kinds can have highly individual temperament and personality, so it’s really important you monitor their behavior closely to make note of what they are and are not eating.
With all that in mind, your cockatiel and your parrot can definitely share food.