Can Cockatiels Eat Popcorn? The Surprising Truth

Can cockatiels eat popcorn?Hang around with a cockatiel and watch him get some fruit or other treats in his cage for a little while, and you will wonder if he would like a different kind of treat that is new and exciting – and you will soon understand that the answer to can cockatiels eat popcorn is YES!

Can Cockatiels eat popcorn? Yes, cockatiels can absolutely eat popcorn when it is served in small amounts, however, owners must make sure that the popcorn is given only as a special treat, and is free of any salt, butter or other toppings as these can be harmful to a bird.

There are good reasons you should feed a cockatiel popcorn; however, if not fed right, popcorn can even be harmful to your bird. Continue to read this article to learn why popcorn is great for Cockatiels and what to look out for feeding it!

Why Give Your Cockatiel Popcorn?

Popcorn is a fun foraging food for birds far and wide. Even some bird enthusiasts like to pop it for their backyard feathered friends to find and eat. Be advised that you should not give any bird popcorn from the microwave bags.

These are fun for humans, but the fat and salt in this popcorn is not good for birds. Stick to air-popped popcorn with no salt, butter or other added toppings. Birds just enjoy it the way it is. For birds, there is no real nutritional value to the treat, but it is fun for them to peck at.

Foraging is a big part of the daily life of the bird, whether he is in the wild or a beloved pet. Bird Seed and pellets do not come served in handy little cups.

Instead, ground feeders like cockatiels must search around until they find a field of grass, wait until they begin to seed, and then they can begin the feeding process.

Your cockatiel has an innate ability to forage for food, but the way in which we feed our pet birds does not encourage this natural behavior. This leaves birds feeling frustrated and sometimes even confused.

Some birds even become obese as a result of easily accessible food. Popcorn is one way for your bird to forage. You can even purchase specially made popcorn treats that feature nuts to really excite your bird!

Troubles with Popcorn for Cockatiels

It is important to remember that popcorn is classified as a treat. About 1-2 treats a day are all your cockatiels need, because it is important for them to mostly eat those beneficial nutritional pellets.

Therefore, you do not want to pop a whole bowl of popcorn or even a small bowl and set it inside for the cockatiel to peck at. Instead, serve your cockatiel some when you make yourself a some, leaving the butter, salt and other toppings off his.

You might even pop a bagful and just serve it to him day by day, tossing any popcorn that becomes stale or just giving it to the backyard birds.

Remember that popcorn is to cockatiels as potato chips are to humans: no nutritional value, but fun to eat and tasty. Just like us humans have to watch the amount of potato chips we eat, cockatiels have to be given popcorn in moderation.Can cockatiels eat salty popcorn?

Other foods to serve in moderation include:

  • Cheerios
  • Rice Krispies
  • Mini Shredded Wheat
  • Animal crackers
  • Millet seed
  • Sunflower seeds

And there are some foods you should NEVER serve to your cockatiel. If needed, print out this article or write it down so you do not forget these toxic foods:

  • Rhubarb
  • Avocados
  • Leaves and stems from tomatoes/eggplants/bean plants
  • Tea
  • Coffee
  • Chocolate
  • Alcohol
  • Fruit seeds
  • Greasy foods
  • Candy
  • Honey

These are foods that should be avoided at all costs. Many of us know enough not to give such things to our bird, but it’s worth mentioning.

Other Great Things to Feed Your ‘Tiel

Cockatiels really are like little foodies; they enjoy so many great things. They love to eat healthy foods. You can serve your bird iceberg lettuce, cukes, and celery as a treat. These veggies are great but have such little nutritional value that they are just for special occasions.

You can also serve your bird some sweet potatoes that are cooked or raw. They also like lightly steamed asparagus, beet greens, broccoli, kale, romaine, watercress, and cooked lima beans to name a few things.

You can also treat your bird to the occasional piece of fruit so long as it is small enough for them to enjoy. Cantaloupe, honeydew, and apples are favorites among cockatiels.

One caveat is that you should always check the fruit over before serving it to your bird, as you want to make sure that you do not serve them something spoiled or moldy. It could make them sick.

Carbs are favorites of humans and also for cockatiels as a treat. They enjoy cooked pasta, brown rice, bird bread, and oatmeal. Fresh corn and peas are also healthy carbs for birds. These foods are high energy, so serve them with moderation in mind.

We have created several articles on different foods and how to feed them to your Cockatiel properly. We recommend reading our articles here:

Related Questions

Is Salt Bad for Cockatiels? Just as too much salt is not good for humans, birds are the same way. Even just one salty snack like a pretzel can make a bird’s electrolyte and fluid balance upset, which means they can experience extreme thirst, dehydration or death.

Can cockatiels eat bread? Yes, they can. But you should ultimately stick to whole wheat bread, and baked cornbread. You can also serve brown rice and spinach pasta as a way to get your bird some healthy carbs. You can give your bird white rice and white bread, but this should be done sparingly.

Can cockatiels eat peanut butter? Yes, but one must use high caution when doing so. You should seek out no sugar/no added salt peanut butter, and because this is high in fat, you should only serve it to your bird on special occasions. Small amounts will not make them sick, but there are better treats out there.

In conclusion, popcorn makes a great snack for cockatiels, when given in moderation.

Photo of author

Gaurav Dhir

Gaurav is an animal enthusiast. He lives in beautiful Ontario with his energetic family. As a part of his work at, he has been working with ace parrot trainer, Cassie Malina to understand bird behavior and learn more about how he can train his feathered companions.

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