How Much and How Often Should I Feed My Cockatiel?

How Much and How Often Should I Feed My Cockatiel?

Last Updated on by Catherine Tobsing

Hi Catherine,

I give my birdie plenty of feeding options in a few locations. 

Do I need to dump out everything each day?

It seems wasteful because it’s clear there’s plenty of “good” food left.  Do I just add more the next day on top?  

Dear Mary

I find people fill their bird’s dishes way too full. I would start with a tablespoon of a seed or pellet mix and see how it goes. If it all gets eaten in less than a day, then double it and see how it goes.

I will stick my finger in the dish during the day and stir it around bringing fresh seeds to the top.

Many birds don’t look below the surface.

Cockatiels, budgies, and canaries are very bad at leaving the seed hulls on top and then they think there is no more food. So they then think they have no food at all.

Larger birds with too much food in their dish may then start to rake their food out and everywhere looking for that last elusive sunflower seed.

Less food in the bowl to start with will give them a better chance to move things around to see what they have, thus less raking.

I also find that birds that do NOT get sunflower seeds in their mixes tend to rake even less.

So we do not use mixes with sunflower seeds at all. Instead, we give them as treats only.

Bird Seed Mixes With NO Sunflower Seeds

Mitch almost daily “tops off” the bird’s food with a new scoop on top of the half-eaten food.

I don’t like to do that myself but we both feed the birds and have to live with each other, LOL.

The 8 parakeets have 3 hanging feeders (Tweaky Clean feeders) and if they still have uneaten food in the troughs of these feeders at the end of the day, they get dumped into a large glass pie dish that I put at the bottom of the large cage.

With 8 budgies, they go down and check it out and finish off even more. I only fill the hanging feeders up about 1/2″ to 3/4″ each so the food has a better chance of being eaten and not wasted.

Just an FYI, birds that feel/know that they have unlimited food 24 hours a day are more likely to get hormonal and perhaps lay eggs (females) and look into nesting because instinctually their bodies and brains are thinking hey, all is good, lots of food, let’s raise a family.

Birds in the wild only eat during daylight hours and not always a lot daily.

They have higher caloric needs than captive/caged birds.

So why do we stuff our birds at home?

Pet birds don’t need to have food in their cages 24 hours a day. Water yes. Otherwise, their food dishes can be removed in the early evening nightly and replaced in the morning daily.

Not saying you should do this. Just that you don’t have to provide a week’s worth of food in the cage 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

For optimal nutrition, you could offer a dish of chopped veggies (I do kale and thawed mixed veggies in the chopper each morning) and a little fruit (apple is good, maybe a cut-up grape) in the morning for a few hours, then after that replace it with the daily dry dish of seeds and hopefully some pellets.

Later in the day, remove the seed dish, leaving only the pellets overnight.

Daily, before the bird’s cage lights go out at 8:30, about 8 pm, they all get a nummy.

The bigger birds get a small bit of Lafebers Avi-Cake and the smaller birds get a 2″ piece of Higgins Versele-Laga Naturally Grown Spray Millet for Birds. Everyone is happy to go to their cages at night and it is quiet while they enjoy their evening snack.

Let me know if I can be of further assistance.

Kindest Regards,



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