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Discussion Starter #1
I'm a new member. If I have this in the wrong place I am sorry.
Back in November I accidentally rescued a tiel named Charlie. I didn't mean to get a rescue, I was just going to get a baby from the pet store. But the owners knew me and my bird, who is very well trained for a conure, and gave me Charlie even though he wasn't for sale. Charlie has a disfigured foot that makes him nervous and hard for him to perch. I fell in love with him quickly, and he bonded to me and my wife very well.

I've spent since then just trying to bond to him, ignoring most of his behavioral issues. He is definitely bonded now. He cries whenever my wife and I leave the room, and flies to our shoulders if we aren't paying attention to him. He speaks a LOT for a cockatiel, some words in my voice, some in hers, and some in his previous owners. His favorite phrases are "Charlie's a pretty bird," "Whatcha doin?" "Hiya" "Thank you" and when he's in a really good mood, "I love you." He also whistles.
All that to say he seems to be happy and healthy and is ready for training.

Now for the problems. He bites. All the time. Some times it makes sense, like if I am holding him and my wife give me attention or vice versa, he bites. I can deal with that, its kinda cute and he doesn't bite hard. But he also bites when ANYTHING is in near proximity to him. If my ear invades his space on my shoulder, he bites. If I don't hold my hand out just so for him to step up, he bites. As he has gotten stronger and healthier since we got him, he bites harder. If we try to feed him out of our hand, he will randomly stop eating and bite. He also hisses, and angrily chirps, as he is biting, but then gets REALLY upset if I don't hold him. I don't even think he knows why he is biting, it's just an instinctual defense from his previous jerk of an owner.

If he was not a rescue I would train him the same way as my conure. Basically I would put her on the ground and walk away when she bit me. She has only bit without reason about 3 times, because of this method. I feel like this would be very detrimental to Charlie, who was left in a far too small cage for 3 months with little contact.

Also, he is a huge junk food junkie. He refuses to eat anything but Millet and some human foods. (Polly does indeed want a cracker.) Apparently he was only fed parakeet blend for years. He rejects even sunflower and safflower seeds, my conure's favorite. Pellets are a definite no. He hates vegetables and fruit. This isn't as huge of an issue, since he seems healthy and happy. This does make it hard to train as there aren't many treats I can give him frequently, except for millet spray.

Any suggestions? Most of the advice i have been given is about getting him to bond with me, which is kinda pointless because he is already bonded.

Sorry for the long post. Here are pics of my buddy including his deformity.

200 Posts
Sprouts are one of the easiest foods to get the most fussy bird to eat his veges. Sunflower and safflower are fatty seeds and not needed. In fact , most educated tiel owners don't free feed sunflower at all.

How old is your tiel?
For he biting issues, maybe he is afraid of hands and fingers. I would not allow him on y shoulder until the biting is not an issue. The more he bites, the more he will want to bite in the future. So, you can try multiple things. I would first try putting him down at the first bite. Have a stand or perch near by so he is still close by and doesn't feel lonely. If he tries to bite when you offer your hand, don't offer it. Instead offer a small perch. If you want to feed him use a long millet stick instead of seeds in your hand. Eventually make the stick smaller and smaller . The idea is to get him to forget biting altogether. It will take a long time if he has been biting for a long time. And, if you are feeding him a healthy diet, he will probably not bite as much while feeding him if he is food motivated.

You can also try gloves or only offering your arm covered with your shirt instead of your hand.

You might also be able to try using some bitter apple spray on your hand . If he bites and tastes it it might deter him.

Here are some ideas for food variety :

Ideas to convert pet bird to healthy diet:

Make sure the seed mix is near the lowest perch. Always put healthy foods higher.


Some birds will prefer small pellets, some will prefer cockatiel sized pellets, be prepared to try more then one size / brand if the first one doesn't work. Zupreem natural (small/ parakeet/ budgie size) and roudybush crumbles are more seed size and might be easier for the seed junkie . Some birds prefer variety and zupreem fruitblend are more tastier but have sugar in them, but can be very helpful to get them interested in pellets at first. I mix different size pellets for my tiel because she enjoys variety. ( cockatiel and budgie size)

1. Grind pellets and sprinkle pellet dust on fresh or cooked veges. This only works if your bird likes vegetables. Slowly grind them less and less, then just add pellets sprinkled on top of veges. Once u see them eating pellets put in its own bowl, near the top perch.

2. Mix pellets with seed mix, 2 tablespoons of seed with 1 teaspoon of pellet for 1 week. Week two add 2 teaspoons of pellet with the seed. Week three add 2 tablespoons. Week 4 , just put pellets in a dish near the birds favourite perch. Don't expect the bird to eat them right away. Most should try within 3 days. If the bird won't eat any after two weeks then try another method.

3. Hide pellets in cactus wood perch.(it's a perch with holes) Hide pellets in paper toys. Stuff pellets in balsa wood , yucca wood toys. Put a pellet dish near their favourite perch, and hide them with crinkled paper on top, small plastic toys, crinkled cardboard strips.

4. Try cooking birdie bread/muffins and hanging it on a skewer or put in food dish. This bread will have grinded pellets in the recipe. Once the bird starts eating the bread, place pellet dish in cage. Bird bread recipe below.

5. Place pellets on a mirror.

6.Nutriberries. You can make similar at home too.

7..Wet ground pellets and mix with seeds so birds have to pick through the pellet mush to get the seeds.

Vegetables (Always remove after 3 hours)

You don't have to try all of these things all at once. Start with one specific vege meal then add a new meal next week or so. Tiels take awhile to become familiar with new foods.

1. Hang kale / spinach / leafy greens (no lettuce) or clip it to the cage bars. Clip or stuff brocolli florettes between cage bars. Clip carrot slice/stick.
2. Finely chop up veges and mix them together. If the bird isn't interested, add 1 teaspoon of seed (or pellet if bird likes them) for 1 -2 weeks.
3. Buy a dehydrator. Dehydrate veges. If the bird won't eat them after a few days, mix dehydrated vegetables with pellets and seed for 1 week, then slowly remove the seed.
4. Try a cooked birdie mash and warm it a little before serving. (5-10 seconds in microwave. Be careful of hot spots.) This works especially well for young tiels. Cooked mash recipe below.
5. Try cooking birdie bread/muffins and hanging it on a skewer or put in food dish. The bird will probably see the muffin paper and start attacking it for fun, then tasting the muffin. This bread will have shredded veges in the recipe. Bird bread recipe below.
6. Sprout/soak seeds. Sprouted seeds are just as nutritious as vegetables. Use a plastic or stainless steel strainer. Most sprout mixes only require 8-12 hours of soaking, then rinse every 6 hours, sooner is always better especially in hot temperatures. Rinse your seeds in a strainer to remove any dust. Then onto the soak. When you do your first soak, you can add a tablespoon of organic apple cider vinegar to reduce chances of spoilage. This kills bacteria. You can feed the sprouts to your bird after the second rinse, because soaking starts the germination process. On day two you can spray some apple cider vinegar or soak them in some diluted ACV for two minutes then rinse. Smell your sprouts before giving them. They should smell earthly or no smell. If sour grow away. Flax seed doesn't sprout well. I use brand TOPs- all in one mix.( . Hagen brand mix for tiels seem to sprout too. All seeds that can be soaked together 8-12 hours: All organic: Kamut, spelt, pumpkin, barley, buckwheat, millet , sunflower, safflower, alfalfa, brocolli seed. You can also sprout some other seeds but most of these seeds are usually in seed mixes, so the bird is familiar with them already. If the bird doesn't eat them for the first few days, try mixing dry seed with it for a couple of weeks, slowly removing dry seed.
7. If your bird is bonded to you, try offering some veges you are eating or pretending to eat. ( just not the exact piece you are biting on, human saliva is not good for birds).

Birdie Bread Recipe

1 cup cornmeal- (no jiffy brand or additives) (can substitute bird safe flour-see below)
1 cup almond flour( can substitute for whole wheat flour/corn meal/ whole oat flour)
1 -2 egg
1 cup shredded veges( carrot , kale, or anything your bird won't eat normally)
1/4 cup ground natural pellets (roudybush or zupreem I use)
3 banana ( or 2-3 cup applesauce)
Water (til soft and wet)

Optional bird bread additions:
1/2 cup cooked / mashed strawberries/raspberries
1 teaspoon sesame seed / chia seed/ hemp seed
1 teaspoon organic pumpkin seed
2-4 tablespoons of seed mix if this bird is a fussy seed junkie

Coconut oil is safe for light greasing for birds or use muffin papers.
I cook at low temperature for 30-40 minutes , 275 Fahrenheit, but I watch and check every 5-10 minutes as it can vary per oven.
Once toothpick comes out clean it is cooked! You may freeze left overs, or use less flour and only 1 egg if you want less bread ��
*note: some whole wheat flour brands have addictives. Do not use if it has anything added, unless you make sure it is birrd safe. Cornmeal should be easy to find with no addictives :) for the seed junkie, use seeds in the mix, then eventually use less and less seed.

Cooked Mash/Chop Recipe

The monthly chop I cook then store into zip bags and freeze and unthaw daily:

Everything cooked:

Cooked quinoa , buckwheat (1 cup each)
Green beans
Cooked sweet potato
Asparagus or boy choy

Sprinkle sesame seeds on top for a couple of weeks.

*You can use frozen veges and cook them for 5 minutes too. Be wary of Lima beans or certain beans in frozen packaging, they need to be soaked and cooked for a long time. Green beans are safe and cook fast.
*You don't need to have all of the listed vegetables, just remember variety is better.

Note: If your cockatiel is older and less trusting then a socialized /young tiel, it can take months for the bird to accept a new food . Just getting them to taste it is the first step. Bird bread with seeds help with this slow process. Sprouts help a bird get adjusted to wet food (veges) . Don't give up trying , it took me three months to get my old rehome eating sprouts, by tricking him to try them mixed with his dry seed for 2 months. (Soaked/sprout seed look very similar to dry seed). He would shake his head when he picked a sprout and throw them across the room for 2 months ! It was because he didn't trust wet food. But in time he accepted the sprouts because he became familiar with their wet texture, and was not scared of them no more. Sprouts also are pretty tasty!

Premium Member
19,909 Posts
Welcome to the forum!!

Tiels bite to say "NO!" So when he bites at your ear, he's telling it no, get out of my space. When he bites you when you want him to step up, he's saying he doesn't want to step up. Biting is their only way of saying no, so taking it away from them or training it out of them is not a good idea.

Nutriberries are a good place to start if you have a seed eater. They have the nutritional equivalent of pellets but look like seed balls. If you want him to try a new food, start first thing in the morning. Take his food out the night before at bedtime, then in the morning, offer him the new food for about an hour. After that hour, put in the food you know he will eat. This gives him a chance to try the new food without starving. Good luck!

200 Posts
YEah if the tiel is biting to say no then don't force him to step up. I assumed he was biting for fun because u said he is bonded with you. Show him how fun you are by feeding him millet spray from a distance , in time he will come to you without biting.
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