How Do I Get My Older Umbrella Cockatoo to Embrace Pellets?

How Do I Get My Older Umbrella Cockatoo to Embrace Pellets?

Last Updated on by Catherine Tobsing

Hi, I am the very happy owner of a 27-year-old umbrella cockatoo.

I’ve had her for about 12 years (her previous owner passed).

She’s always been a picky eater.

She of course loves peanuts and all things that are not good for her.

I’m still trying to find a pellet she will eat to balance her nutrition.

Please help with any suggestions. She’s very active and has beautiful plumage. I just worry about her diet. Thank you,



Dear Patrice


That you have had your bird for 12 years, she is fully feathered and happy and healthy, don’t stress so much.


There are so many good pellets offered out there but the “finding one they will eat” is the hard part.

Unless your bird will eat pellets, it really doesn’t matter the variety.

We have 12 birds, only one eats pellets by choice.

Chili our quaker will grab a pellet and carry it to his water dish, dunk it, take a bite out of it, dunk it again for a second bite. 

VERY unusual but we of course are thrilled about it. 

Yes, his water looks like soup and has to be replaced three times a day, but HEY he is eating pellets. Yay! Small victories.

Some bird owners don’t give their birds any choices and put out pellets and it is “eat them or starve”.

We are not big fans of that and feel as long as our birds are active, have roomy cages, and eat more than a seed diet, veggies, and fruits added daily plus a multi-vitamin, that we will not force them on a pelleted diet alone.

A popular way to encourage your bird to eat some pellets is to remove their seed dishes at some point in the day daily, leaving them with a dish of pellets only until the next day’s feeding. This is a kinder option and in time they may start to enjoy munching on them.

Best to select a quality name brand pellet in a small bag (don’t buy a year’s supply for one bird no matter how good the price is per pound) that you can locate and get easily. 

Then set up plans to put in your bird’s cage the following. 

One dish or bottle of water (24-hour availability).

One dish with a seed/nut, grain, dried veggie/fruit, etc mixes, Just a quarter cup, not a full bowl. (morning or mid-day).

One dish of cut-up fresh or thawed mixed veggies, a bit of cut-up apple. Maybe a cut-up grape, avoid too much fruit (morning through the afternoon at the latest).


One dish with some pellets, again a small amount. Don’t fill it up to the top and leave until eaten. After a day or two, they will not be tasty (stale) and will work against your plans. (the pellets stay in the cage until they are replaced/refilled.)

As far as treats go, we chose to give them only at bedtime to help reinforce birdie bedtime.

Our flock goes to bed at 8:30 (lights out) so sometime after 8 pm they all get corraled back into their cages and given a bit of Lafeber Avi-cake or a small chunk of millet and they go to bed willingly and quietly as they munch on their nummies.

Thank you for writing.


Additional comments from Mitch R

Hi Patrice,

One simple hack to help a bird embrace pellets is to drizzle some apple juice over them.

That peanuts are bad for birds is a myth.

South America is the second-largest producer of peanuts on the planet while maintaining the single largest population of parrots to be found.

If peanuts were bad for parrots, they’d be falling out of the sky for millennia.

Moldy peanuts are what makes birds sick so many people will say “yep that mold will trigger aspergillus in birds”.

I say sure while cheese, cold cuts, pizza, and more also can become moldy carrying harmful bacteria, including E. coli, Listeria, Salmonella, and Brucella, all of which can cause food poisoning.

No moldy peanuts – no problem.




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