By Linda S. Rubin
There are many different kinds of millet, but the most popular millet given to pet birds is foxtail millet.
In the wild, cockatiels are nomadic flocks traveling as opportunistic feeders, visiting fields, crops, grasslands and granaries to find whatever food is available. Although cockatiels do not survive specifically on millet crops in the wild, millet is a cereal seed that is good for them within the context of a complete pet bird diet.
Today we recommend feeding a formulated pelleted diet to address most pet birds’ nutritional needs. Cockatiels should receive some seed separately as a part of the diet, such as a quality cockatiel mix that contains millet, along with canary seed and other ingredients. Dark green leafy vegetables, red-orange-yellow vegetables, a little fruit, along with cuttlebone and fresh water round out the diet. Special bird treats and healthy table foods can be given on occasion.
Formulas that are low in fat are important for non-breeding cockatiels in order to avoid developing fatty livers and obesity, which will shorten their lifespan. If your cockatiel is gaining weight, cut back on the amount of food and make sure they exercise. Spray millet is a treat that is enjoyed by cockatiels and most parrots that are exposed to it. Millet spray is the dry form of millet harvested while still on the stalk. I feed it weekly to non-breeding birds, and daily to young and breeding birds, or if a bird is ever ill. Spray millet is the first food of choice in ailing birds that refuse to eat, which shows how much it is enjoyed.