Can Cockatiels Eat Sunflower Seeds?

Do you have a pet cockatiel at home and are thinking about starting them on a sunflower seed diet? Can cockatiels eat sunflower seeds? The short answer is YES! Sunflower seeds can be an amazing nutrient-rich quick snack, but it can prove too much, very easily.

Sunflower seeds are full of oil and hence fat. They provide severe nutrients like protein, fiber, Vitamins, zinc, Selenium and have been shown to improve heart health. It’s crucial to limit this snack to once or twice a week to avoid dangers related to excess fat.

Today we are going to explore the benefits and drawbacks of feeding sunflower seeds to your cockatiel. Since sunflower seeds have great nutritional value but need calculated dosing it’s crucial to understand their role in your cockatiel’s diet which will be explored in detail in this article.

Can cockatiels eat sunflower seeds? 8 reasons why sunflower seeds are a perfect snack

If you have been worried about can cockatiels eat sunflower seeds, here are some answers to your concerns and queries. We have tried to give you a comprehensive idea about why it can be a good idea for your pet to have the sunflower seeds diet.

  1. Sunflower seeds are extremely rich in fiber and keep the digestive system healthy. Fiber will allow your cockatiel to have comfortable bowel movements and prevent problems like constipation and diarrhea. An upset stomach will also almost always lead to behavioral issues and feeding a healthy diet full of fiber can prevent that.
  2. It is rich in Vitamin E, keeping inflammation in check. It is a fairly common problem among cockatiels and occasional sunflower seeds supply enough Vitamin E that this problem can be kept in check.
  3. Zinc and other Vitamins in these seeds keep the immune system of the cockatiel revitalized. These and other antioxidants neutralize harmful free radicals in the bird’s body and keep it safe from long-term damage.
  4. Selenium and Vitamin B keep the cockatiel energetic and sunflower seeds are a great source. They also vitalize the mood of the bird and this, in turn, makes it easier to handle any problems that you might face with it.
  5. The protein in these seeds helps in muscle building and bone strengthening. And occasional sunflower seeds give enough protein that the bird can develop a strong body and be healthy and mobile for a long time.
  6. Sunflower seeds can prove to be an amazing positive reinforcement tool for cockatiels. These seeds as rewards for performing tricks you desire from the bird can prove to be a great learning tool for the bird, and an amazing experience for you.
  7. Because of the rich nature of sunflower seeds they are perfect to mix with other seeds, especially light non-fatty seeds. It will balance the diet out and also provide a constant source of macro and micronutrients.
  8. Both cooked and raw sunflower seeds are fine for cockatiels, but raw is preferred.

What precautions to take while feeding my cockatiel sunflower seeds?

Beware of the weight issue

Plant seeds such as sesame seeds and pumpkin seeds are high in fat. Sunflower seeds are 30% fat. This implies that if not moderated the prospect of overfeeding is very likely.

This will put stress on the heart while flying and moving and can be a catalyst to several dangerous diseases. You need to feed the bird sunflower seeds only once or twice a week because a diet consisting of more than that will lead to obesity in the bird.

It’s a good practice to keep these seeds 20 – 25% of the total diet to ensure a balanced intake.

How to choose the right sunflower seed for your cockatiel?

Even if we are vigilant with the number of sunflower seeds in our cockatiel’s diet, it might not be enough or prove to be excess.

We need to understand the type of seed we feed and how and where it was acquired from.

This video does a great job of explaining how we must also consider the intricacies of the production value of the sunflower seeds before feeding them to our birds. We need to check how the bird reacts to the given seed and act accordingly.

Apart from this we also need to weigh the sunflower seeds and find their fat content making sure that the seeds are not just hollow and ensuring we set a properly balanced diet for our cockatiel.

How to detect if anything is wrong and how to handle it?

Thoroughly inspect your bird. Fat is under the cockatiel’s skin, hidden under the feathers.

If the sink looks yellowish instead of pale or pink, you need to be concerned and cut down on fatty substances in your cockatiel’s diet, which includes sunflower seeds.

To get an accurate assessment and the best practice in general about this is to visit a vet since all cockatiels are different and a vet’s perspective will give you the curated and best action plan for your bird and how to integrate sunflower seeds into that.

But if you assess your bird’s weight on your own, keep in mind their weight fluctuates a lot depending on their bowel movement and diet timings.


As we have seen, sunflower seeds are an incredible food for cockatiels that have numerous advantages to it. So, Can cockatiels eat sunflower seeds? The answer is a resounding yes!.

 By taking a few precautions mainly centered around the number of sunflower seeds being fed and their temporal distribution, sunflower seeds can be an incredible addition to the diet of your cockatiel.

All the care that is needed in incorporating sunflower seeds into a cockatiel dies stems from balancing the diet in such a way that it does not lead to obesity in the bird.

Sunflower seeds are a fat and nutrient-dense food that needs to be treated as supplementary food for cockatiels. It needs to be a part of a diet consisting of other foods as well to balance out the richness of this nutrient-rich seed.

While feeding sunflower seeds the weight of the bird must be strictly taken into account.