Can Cockatiels Eat Flax Seeds? Can They Cause Obesity?

Flax seeds are considered a superfood for humans, but what about birds? Can cockatiels eat flax seeds, or is the high content in these seeds a problem?

Flax seeds are a fiber-rich crop known to humans as a food that improves digestive health.

But if you have a pet bird at home on a seed diet, have you thought about adding flax seeds to their diet?

Do these seeds have any benefits for birds, and is it safe?

In this article, we will talk about flax seeds and if it is safe to feed your cockatiel. Read on to find out.

Can Cockatiels Eat Flax Seeds

Flax Seeds Nutritional Info: Is It Good For Cockatiels?

Let me answer your question up front: yes, flax seeds are safe and nutritious for your cockatiel .

The source of these seeds is a plant called Linum usitatissimum, which can often be found in bird seed mixes.

This is one of the snacks that your bird will enjoy eating when offered as a snack.

Nutritional Info

Flax seeds are a tasty snack for your cockatiels. These seeds are primarily rich in fiber, plant protein, and saturated fats.

They have a high content of different vitamins and minerals that all add up to a healthy diet for your birds.

One tablespoon (about 7 grams) of flax seeds contains the following nutrients:

  • 37 calories
  • 2 grams of carbohydrates
  • 1.9 grams of fiber
  • 1.3 grams of protein
  • 3 grams of total fat
  • Magnesium: 7% of DV
  • Manganese: 8% of DV
  • Selenium: 3% of DV
  • Iron: 2% of DV
  • Zinc: 3% of DV
  • Phosphorus: 4% of DV
  • Vitamin B6: 2% of DV
  • Folate: 2% of DV


  • Vitamin C is important for building strong cell walls and blood vessels.
  • Vitamin E works as an antioxidant that regulates other vitamins in your bird’s body.
  • Vitamin K is required in a bird’s body for blood coagulation and reducing stress.
  • Riboflavin reduces oxidative stress in birds, which helps in their growth.

3-4 grams of flax seeds can be added to your bird’s diet.


  • Potassium maintains the electrolyte balance in the body, which is important for the normal functioning of cells.
  • Zinc is important for the feather recovery of birds and is important in their diet if they have a skin condition.
  • Calcium is one of the most important minerals in birds to help with their bone growth and the formation of eggs. Flax seeds are a decent source of calcium. 

Other Nutrients

Flax seeds also contain omega-3 and fatty acids that keep your bird healthy and energetic.

The fat in these seeds also works in recovery after any kind of sickness.

And the high fiber content of flax seeds is known to improve digestion for birds.

How Should Flax Seeds Be Given To Cockatiels?

Flax seeds come with a very hard shell that most wild birds love to crack open and munch on.

However, when you have a young cockatiel at home, it is a better idea to give them ground-up seeds.

The grinding process will release a few more nutrients that can become a healthy snack for the cockatiel’s digestion process.

Once they start growing, you can give them whole seeds to eat.

Flax seed oil from raw seeds might be toxic for birds

You can also give your birds flax seeds by soaking them in freshwater or almond milk. This makes the seeds soft, which becomes easier to digest.

If none of these ideas work, you can put flax seeds with a fruit mix that becomes a very tasty treat for your cockatiel.

How Much (And How Often) Should You Give Flax Seeds To Your Bird?

The recommended weight of flax seeds that you should give your bird is 3-4 grams per day.

When you are feeding your bird flax seeds, limit their quantity to 10% or less of their entire diet.

These seeds are best as a nutritious snack and should not be part of the whole diet.

Make sure to replace the flax seeds with other types of seeds, like safflower seeds or sunflower seeds, on alternate days of the week.

Are There Any Dangers To Giving Flax Seeds to Cockatiels?

Like all other types of seeds, fruits, and fresh vegetables, flax seeds have to be fed to cockatiels in moderation.

If you plan to switch them to a diet of sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds along with flax, it might not be the healthiest option for the bird.

Flax seeds can pose a few risks for your bird:

  • The seeds are high in fat, which, when fed too much, can lead to health issues like obesity and heart disease.
  • The content of calcium and vitamins in flax seeds might not be enough for your cockatiel’s dietary intake.
  • An all-seed diet does not contain all the important nutrients that your bird needs over the course of their diet. So an all-seed diet for a long time is not a good idea, resulting in brittle bones and bad feather condition.

So, it is suggested that you offer your cockatiel flax seeds in moderation or as an occasional treat.

This maintains a varied palette with the right amount of nutrients to keep them healthy.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are flax seeds poisonous to birds?

No, flax seeds are not poisonous to birds when they are ripe and developed.
These seeds have a number of nutrients that are known to be healthy for a bird’s digestive system.
Some seeds, like apple seeds and pits of certain fruits, contain cyanide which can be toxic to birds.

Can birds eat flax and chia seeds?

Yes, birds enjoy eating flax and chia seeds. Most wild birds enjoy feeding on these seeds as snacks, and you can add them to birdfeeders.
These seeds are also safe to offer to your birds at home.
However, make sure to limit the quantity because cockatiels are prone to becoming seed junkies, whereas their actual diet should be 75% pellets, with seeds making up only 10%.

Is raw flax seed toxic?

Yes, it is possible for flax seeds to be toxic for birds as they may contain cyanide compounds when unripe.
You should avoid feeding raw flax seeds to your birds. If you do, make sure to toast or cook them. The same goes for oil extracted from raw flax seeds.

What seeds can cockatiels not eat?

Cockatiels should not be given any kind of fruit pits, apple seeds, and avocado seeds.
Some of these seeds can prove fatal to the birds as they contain traces of cyanide that your bird’s body will not be able to digest.

Wrap Up

In conclusion, we can tell you that, yes, cockatiels love flax seeds in their meal.

This seed is highly nutritious, and they will enjoy it as an occasional snack.

Moderating the number of seeds and limiting it to once or twice a week can help maintain a healthy and balanced diet for your feathered friends.

Do not give your bird more than 3-4 grams of the seeds, and not more than once or twice a week. Also, avoid raw flax seeds since they can be poisonous.

Thank you for reading!

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Team Beauty of Birds's team of experts includes veterinarians, biologists, environmentalists and active bird watchers. All put together, we have over half a century of experience in the birding space.

You can meet our team here.
Team Beauty of Birds is separate from the “Parrot Parent University” parrot training course and its instructors.

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