Can a Cockatiel Choke on a Fortune Cookie in a Plastic Wrapper?

Can a Cockatiel Choke on a Fortune Cookie in a Plastic Wrapper?

Last Updated on by Mitch Rezman

We posted the picture above to our Facebook page on 8/22/2013) and received the following comment
“I am amazed anyone would give their bird a plastic packaging material. They could so easily choke on it”.
I thought I’d share my reply

This is like saying I’m amazed you feed your bird seeds because they can choke on the husk or wood bird toys because they can choke on slivers – there is absolutely nothing wrong with this Julie – birds are smarter than that – we’ve been doing this for 30 years with multiple species and it not that we’re “lucky” that a bird in our care never choked on a fortune cookie wrapper.  

Ironically the video below got posted to our Facebook page on 5/3/2017 almost 4 years later with the following comment:

“So the wrapping plastic isn’t an issue? I was going to try what you did with the treat stick and let them open the package themselves but the plastic freaks me out! Is it a risk for them to chew/shred plastic? I have two Pineapple Conures.”

For more precise information on a bird’s digestive system, please read this.

See if you or I don’t chew a piece of meat we could choke. If you or I try to swallow an apricot pit we could choke. The same is not true of birds. We have to masticate (chew) food before we swallow, birds do not.
Hookbill bird’s beaks will remove husks from seeds but for the most part, birds swallow everything whole where the “food” then travels to the “crop” for holding (see the link at the end for the rest of the food trip) Soft bills like finches and canaries eat many seeds husk and all because their bill is well “soft”
Their gizzard (part of the stomach system) literally grinds the larger particulate into a more digestible form. Raptors like Falcons and Owls on the other hand “cast”. We feed them baby quail (bought frozen) and when hunting falcons eat small birds, while hawks tend to eat small mammals. Quails, birds and mammals are eaten completely bones and all.
Several hours later while the crop is emptying they will “cast” or regurgitate fairly solid indigestible “chunks” of bone and fur which is why I never hold a falcon over my lap when seated – hope that clarifies things.

The moral of the story is? You needn’t make foraging harder than it needs to be.


Written by Mitch Rezman
Approved by Catherine Tobsing

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This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. CANARIES AND FINCHES ARE NOT SOFTBILLS. Their bills are not soft, and they shell their seed like hookbills do. Softbilled birds are so named for their diet. Turacos, Toucans, hornbills, mynahs, jays. are softbills.
    I’m not sure how many species of birds you’ve kept, how long you’ve kept birds, how many courses, seminars or lectures you’ve taken or given but your information you give seems to be right off the internet, not experience. You regularly misidentify species and give wrong information. There’s plenty of topics that you can give your opinion and then are things that are just plain incorrect, like the finch, canary thing. Please just sell your products and stop trying to educate people about stuff you’re way off base with. Paul

  2. My cockatiel Tulip gets tremendously excited at the sight of a fortune cookie. He tries valiantly to get inside the wrapper by banging it on the counter and ripping at it, but to no avail. Just the sound of the wrapper in my hand sends him into a tizzy. I have to open the wrapper for him so he can grab the cookie and start demolishing it. Was your cockatiel ever able to open the wrapper herself?

  3. I understand we’ve had this dance, but you keep putting this info out there.

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