It was movie night at our house the other night, and as always, I went massively overboard on the popcorn.
I always do—I can’t get enough of it!
I love popcorn, and I think whoever invented it is a genius.
However, as usual, my cockatiels joined us for movie night, but I forgot to get a special treat for them like I normally do.
I wondered if they could just share our popcorn with us—it’s very similar to what they normally eat, anyway.
So, I decided to look into it.
So, can cockatiels eat popcorn?
Yes, they can! Popcorn is essentially just a popper version of the kinds of seeds and kernels they would prefer to eat anyway. The important thing is that the popcorn is not filled with additives, salt or flavorings, and always in moderation—too much will be a problem.
So, yes, they can, although there are a number of caveats.
My advice would be that basically any store bought popcorn is unlikely to be safe due to additives and salt content.
For the safest results, you should make the popcorn yourself at home.
Let’s look further into this.
Is popcorn good for cockatiels?
In small ways it is.
For one thing, they will almost certainly love it as a snack.
As I said, it is the kind of thing they would eat anyway, only popped through heat and made much softer.
Their beaks will have a very easy job breaking it up, since they’re designed to break up seeds and nuts.
Don’t underestimate the value of variety and little enrichment food—this is the main way popcorn is good for your cockatiel.
Beyond that, there are not many health benefits to speak of.
Popcorn is extremely low in any kind of calories or nutrition, even for a little cockatiel.
The kernels themselves are a reasonably good source of protein and fiber, although a good deal of that is lost in the popping process.
So, don’t feed your cockatiel popcorn in the hope that they will get great health benefits from it.
It should just be seen as a good snack, something that they will feel emotionally enriched by sharing with you.
Again, though, don’t underestimate the kind of impact this will have on your cockatiel’s health.
That said, you still need to be very careful of what kind of popcorn you are giving them, so let’s look into all the caveats.
Is popcorn bad for cockatiels?
It certainly can be.
As I said, the big problem you’re going to have is store bought popcorn.
That is going to be formulated for humans, and has been through a lot of processing to get to store shelves.
Ignoring for a moment all the compounds and additives, salt itself is hugely problematic for cockatiels.
It can rapidly elevate their blood pressure.
Beyond that, any oil, flavoring, or any complex chemical ingredient in the popcorn has a strong chance of being very bad for your cockatiel.
In the right amounts, even fatally.
If you want to feed your cockatiel popcorn, the safest way to do so is to get raw, unprocessed kernels and pop them yourself.
You can even make a bowl to flavor it, and leave some unflavored for your cockatiel.
Even then, strict moderation is really important—if your cockatiel eats too much, it will be an issue.
Can cockatiels eat salted popcorn?
Salt is one of the biggest problems for cockatiels and small animals in general when it comes to household foods.
It can cause rapid acceleration of blood pressure and heart rate in the kind of quantities you’d find in salted popcorn.
Even unsalted, but processed, store-bought popcorn is going to be problematic.
Avoid salted popcorn at all times.
Can cockatiels eat sweet popcorn?
Sweet is just as bad, though.
While salted popcorn may broadcast what is the problem with it, sweet popcorn is mainly made sweet through oils and flavorings.
All of these can be very bad for your cockatiel.
Again, there is no safe form of sweet popcorn.
While one or two tiny bits might not do any harm, they won’t bring any benefit, either.
Just leave the flavored or other wise processed popcorn, get some kernels and make popcorn the old fashioned way.
So, as long as you keep strict moderation in mind and avoid any highly processed, store-bought popcorn, you certainly share it with your cockatiel.
They will likely love the snack, and they will appreciate the addition to their diet. just don’t get carried away, as it is often easy to do when sharing snacks with our pets—your cockatiel is only small.
Overfeeding will be a real problem for them, though they will normally know their own limits.