The Best Food for a Hormonal Cockatoo

Pet Food


October 28, 2020

Is your parrot acting strangely? It may be surprising to learn that parrots, like most biological creatures, can experience hormonal changes and imbalances. These changes can lead to some odd behavior. If you’re concerned about this behavior, we will outline some of the causes and possibly improve the situation by altering your parrot’s diet.

Before we get into the details, you should note that this article’s information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always consult your veterinarian before starting or stopping any treatment or making any changes.

Food to Help a Hormonal Cockatoo’s Mood

If you notice some mood swings in your beloved cockatoo, it could sign hormonal changes. These hormonal fluctuations are usually normal in parrots, and even most animals. Let’s examine some common causes and symptoms of these hormonal fluctuations.

What Causes Mood Swings in Parrots?

From your perspective, it may seem like your bird just randomly changed their personality, but there is a reason for the changes. This mysterious reason is likely the mating season. When the mating season begins, it tends to trigger some very noticeable changes in your bird’s temperament. Your usually delightful cockatoo will suddenly snub certain people and be unusually affectionate towards others. 

Your pet parrot may also seek out crevices or holes to build a separate nest and become hyper-protective of their territory. You may even notice your parrot pluck their feathers more often.

These behaviors can be obvious signs of mating-induced changes, especially if they are also flaunting their plumage.

There are additional signs of hormonal changes, as well. Excessive biting or nipping with their beak or extensive screeching periods can also indicate hormonal change. While these behavioral changes might be initially alarming, remember that they are a regular aspect of your parrot’s life-cycle.

Since this is a natural part of your bird’s life, it’s vital that you do not attempt to hinder these hormonal changes entirely. Unless there is a medical reason to do so, these hormonal changes should run their natural course.

So is there anything that you can do to help your cockatoo cope during this time? Yes, there is.

Use Nutrition to Ease Their Disposition

To help your pet parrot through their particular pique, one of the best natural methods is food. Just as human food can, to a certain extent, affect hormones and mood in people, food can have an even more powerful impact on parrots.

The seasonal diet available to birds in the wild (fruit, nuts, leaves, etc.) helps regulate their biorhythm. Different kinds of seeds, nuts, insects, etc. are typically available during certain seasons. These foods signal to a parrot which season they are in, and can signal the end of a season as well.

The main benefit of using food to help your parrot is that it is natural. Using food, you are not medically suppressing your cockatoo’s natural hormones; you are merely using biology to ease the process.

Choosing and administering the right food for a hormonal cockatoo is generally simpler than administering complex medications, and gentler for your parrot. So what nutrition is best for your cockatoo? Let’s look at some general guidelines.

Food to Calm Your Cockatoo’s Attitude

Let’s get the list of foods to cut back out of the way first. Typically, when you notice the behavioral changes accompanying a mating season for your parrot, you will want to scale-back the starches. Foods high in starch include most grains, peas, and corn.

It is also advisable to thin-out your cockatoo’s fatty foods during the mating season. The reasoning for avoiding starchy and fatty foods is that they signal your parrot that they are at the right time for mating. Therefore, starches and fats can prolong and intensify the mating cycle and associated behaviors.

Finally, you want to watch your parrot’s intake of soy. Soy nuts or bird food pellets that contain soy can have a detrimental impact on their food if the quantities are high. If you feed your parrot food pellets instead of fruits, nuts, or seeds, check the nutrition label for the amount of soy.

Please keep in mind that this is a general guideline only. You want to cut-back your cockatoo’s intake of starches and fats during the mating period, not remove the foods entirely! Sometimes the temptation will be to remove starches and fats altogether, but that would be unhealthy for your parrot, as with humans!

Additionally, some foods are utterly toxic to birds. You want to avoid such foods, and consuming them can negatively affect their mood!

Foods for Better Moods

Now we know which foods to cut back on, let’s see what foods we want to increase a bit during this time. As with the starches and fats above, this is a guideline only. Too much of a good thing is just as unhealthy as a bad thing. Variety is the key to any diet or nutrition plan. 

That being said, there are some foods you can slightly increase to ease your parrot’s hormonal state. There are many choices here, so even if your cockatoo has specific tastes, there are things on this list that they will enjoy.

Most parrot enthusiasts agree that you may want to slightly increase fruits in your cockatoo’s diet during mating. Be careful not to overdo this, though, as fruit’s sugar content can create another issue. Avoid avocados, and avoid apple seeds; both of these are fatal to birds! Again, see the link above for a list of toxic foods to never feed a bird.

More fiber, including fibrous vegetables, is what you want to aim for during this time: peppers, kale, and broccoli, for example. Collard greens and cabbage are also good choices. Here is a full list of safe, natural foods to feed a parrot. 

There are also specially-formulated food-pellets which have the appropriate nutrition already “baked-in” to them. These can be more cost-effective and longer-lasting than regular fruits, especially if you live in a warm climate where foods tend to ripen quickly. Consult your parrot’s veterinarian regarding safe food and what’s best for your specific cockatoo.

Regardless of which type of food you decide to feed your winged pal, remember to vary the menu. No-one likes eating the same thing day-after-day. Nutritionally, it’s essential that your parrot eats a balanced diet of various kinds of food, akin to what they would find in the wild.

Varying the food supply will help keep things interesting for your cockatoo while simultaneously keeping their nutrition stable. Food for a hormonal cockatoo can seem daunting at first, but it’s not complicated once you learn the basics.

A Change That’s Fleeting, Soothed by Eating 

So we’ve seen how food can calm the hormonal changes and naturally ease your parrot through this primal process. While the changes may seem jarring, there’s usually no cause for alarm. Your cherished cockatoo will be back to their regular self with some care and temporary adjustments in no time.

Remember that these changes will occur regularly, either annually or semi-annually, depending upon your specific cockatoo species. It can also be brought on by particular stressors such as a recent change of location or new guests in the home. 

Regardless, a little bit of patience and some nutritional alterations are usually all that’s needed. Just remember, in this case, a cracker may not be the best choice!