Main diet – fresh

Umbrella cockatoo with a tangerine

The main diet or staple diet for cockatoos is the food that is needed for them to live a healthy life. It is divided into two categories; dry foods and fresh foods. This page is about fresh foods, the page about dry foods can be read here. Ideally your bird will eat 60% dry foods and 40% fresh foods and get something extra now and again.

The main fresh food for cockatoos: vegetables and fruits

The fresh foods consist of vegetables or fruits. The fruits can be given without cooking or other treatment, the vegetables generally need to be cooked before feeding them to your bird. Fruits and vegetables will give your birds the necessary vitamins and fibers.

Fruits for cockatoos

Fruit is important for cockatoos

Feeding fruits and vegetables to your cockatoo is crucial to its health and well-being. Give him at least one fruit or one piece of fruit a day, the size adjusted to yours birds body size. You can choose out of many different fruits: apple, banana, pear, grape, tangerine, orange, mango, strawberry, blue berry, melon or pineapple. Every cockatoo has his own preference, so please try what your bird likes best. The only exception is avocado, this is poisonous to parrots and cockatoos!

You can feed the fruits to your cockatoo in different ways. You can cut them into pieces and offer them in a food bowl (a separate bowl to the dry foods bowl), you can give the fruit to him directly or you can impale the fruits on a special fruit stick so he can eat ‘fruit kebab’. You don’t need to peel the fruits first, not even oranges or tangerines, because your cockatoo will have some fun doing this himself. Don’t be surprised or disappointed when your cockatoo will throw his fruits to the floor or will only eat half of each piece. Cockatoos are sloppy eaters. Sometimes he just does not feel like eating this particular fruit. If he always throws his food around you are probably feeding him too much. Cockatoos also have a personal taste, so some fruits will be favorite and others will be refused. Just experiment with what your cockatoo likes.

Vegetables and legumes

Cooked food for cockatoos

It is also important and healthy to feed your bird some vegetables and legumes, like broccoli, cauliflower, beans, potatoes, peas, carrots or corn. All these food items need to be cooked before feeding them, as they cannot be eaten raw. Without cooking you can feed him carrot, cucumber or lettuce but generally cockatoos will not prefer to eat this.
You can feed your cockatoo once every two – three days a mix of cooked vegetables and legumes. Do not use salt, sugar or any other additives to the vegetables. Canned vegetables are not suitable as they are prepared with salt and sometimes also sugar.

Teaching a cockatoo to eat new things

Umbrella cockatoo eating a leaf

A young cockatoo should be introduced to as many healthy foods as possible. Like in humans, young individuals are willing to try new things, but adults are less flexible in that aspect. If you have an older bird and you want to make him try new foods, you will have to be patient and continue to offer the foods you want him to try. You can remove all other foods for one day to make him more motivated, but do not continue this for more than one day.
Sometimes seeing a human family member or other cockatoo or parrot eat a certain food is enough to make your cockatoo also give it a try.

Read more about cockatoo food at the pages about dry food, about healthy cockatoo treats and about additional foods like meat and calcium-rich food.