Can Cockatiels Eat Popcorn? (Insights from an Avian Vet)

Last Updated on October 4, 2023 by Ali Shahid

You are sitting in a movie center eating popcorn and suddenly a wild question comes to your mind: Can cockatiels eat Popcorn?

Yes, cockatiels can eat plain popcorn in moderation providing it is sugar and salt-free. Cockatiel diets should include popcorn as a snack, not as their primary food source.

These little birds often show a keen interest in sampling different foods, including some unexpected treats like popcorn. As an avian veterinarian, I am here to share some insights into whether popcorn is a suitable addition to your cockatiel’s diet.

Can Cockatiels Eat Popcorn?

Do Cockatiels Like Popcorn?

Cockatiels indeed seem to enjoy the occasional nibble on popcorn. What makes popcorn particularly appealing to these birds is its intriguing texture.

While some cockatiels may nibble on it just for the fun of it, others will eagerly devour it. Regardless of their preference, the good news is that popcorn is generally safe for cockatiels.

Are Popcorns Healthy for Cockatiels?

Popcorn is essentially a puffed-up version of corn kernels, and when prepared and offered correctly, it can be a safe treat for your avian friend. It’s important, however, to exercise caution in how you introduce this snack to your cockatiel.

The best way to serve popcorn to your feathered companion is by preparing it at home from raw corn. This ensures that your bird is getting a pure and unadulterated treat without any harmful additives.

While popcorn is an enjoyable snack for cockatiels, it is essential to remember that it doesn’t offer significant nutritional value.

Popcorn is calorie-rich but lacks many essential nutrients required for a balanced diet. Nonetheless, its lightness and fiber content (approximately 3.6 grams of fiber per ounce) can make it a part of a well-rounded avian diet.

Disadvantages of Feeding Popcorn to Cockatiels

Before you rush to share your popcorn with your cockatiel, it’s crucial to be aware of some potential pitfalls associated with this snack. Commercial microwave popcorn, in particular, can pose risks due to the presence of certain chemicals.

One such compound is perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), commonly found in microwave popcorn packaging. PFOA has been linked to various health issues in humans and can also adversely affect birds, especially during their incubation period. Studies have shown that developing bird embryos may suffer when exposed to PFOA.

A substance used in faking butter, diacetyl, may be present in microwave popcorn. A study has shown that diacetyl causes lung disease and damage to the lungs in animals.

Furthermore, popcorn is often dressed up with less-than-healthy toppings like sugar, caramel, cheese, butter, and salt. Excessive consumption of these additives can contribute to various health problems in cockatiels.

How Many Popcorn Can Cockatiels Eat?

If you decide to share some popcorn with your cockatiel, remember that moderation is key. Offer a few kernels of air-popped, plain popcorn once or twice a week as a special treat.

It is important to emphasize that popcorn should never replace your bird’s regular diet, which should consist of a diverse range of fruits, vegetables, and high-quality bird food.

Additionally, always supervise your cockatiel while they are enjoying their popcorn to ensure they don’t accidentally choke on it. Your pet’s safety and well-being should always be your top priority.


In short, while cockatiels may show interest in popcorn, it should be treated as an occasional indulgence rather than a dietary staple. Providing your feathered friend with a balanced and nutritious diet should remain your primary focus.

And remember, when it comes to the health of your beloved cockatiel, it’s always a good idea to consult with an avian veterinarian for personalized guidance and recommendations.

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