Can Cockatiels Eat Onions? What Are The Risks?

Cockatiels can eat many vegetables and fresh fruits as part of their diet. However, some fruits and vegetables are harmful, so cockatiels shouldn’t eat them. They include avocados, fruit seeds, rhubarb, and garlic.

Can cockatiels eat onions? No, cockatiels should not eat onions. Onions are harmful to cockatiels, whether raw or cooked, because they contain a toxic amino acid that destroys red blood cells. Onion poisoning causes anemia and eventually death.

Onions are harmful to your pet bird, so they shouldn’t eat them. Read on to find out the health effects of onions on your bird and what to do if it consumes an onion accidentally.

Can You Feed Onions To Cockatiels?

Can You Feed Onions To Cockatiels?

Cockatiels should never be fed onions. Although onions have beneficial nutrients like vitamin C, B-complex vitamins, potassium, and manganese,  cockatiels shouldn’t eat them. This is because onions also have thiosulphate, a toxic amino acid.

The thiosulphate in onions is dangerous because when ingested by your pet bird, it ruptures red blood cells and destroys them. If the amount of onions consumed is high enough, and over a considerable period, a cockatiel will develop anemia and eventually die.

Since onions are acidic, if a cockatiel eats them consistently, the risk of developing ulcers in the stomach and mouth is high. Onions also contain certain sulfur compounds that turn into disulfide when chewed, irritating the digestive tract of your cockatiel.

Your cockatiel will experience onion poisoning after eating onions. Onion poisoning causes several issues, including;

  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Mouth and stomach irritation
  • Diarrhea
  • Skin discoloration

Hence, onions are too dangerous for cockatiels to eat. If you intend to supplement your pet bird’s diet using onions, look for alternatives like fruits.

Do Cockatiels Like Onions?

Do Cockatiels Like Onions?

Cockatiels can sometimes peck at onions if they find them in the vicinity. The birds might even go as far as eating them if they’re hungry. Because onions are harmful, you should ensure that no onions are left lying around for your pet bird to find.

Even if you know your cockatiel doesn’t like onions, don’t leave any lying around. An onion’s scent glands release compounds that can harm your pet bird because of its highly sensitive respiratory system.

Can cockatiels eat green onions?

Can Cockatiels Eat Onions? What Are The Risks? 1

Green onions are a species of onions that grow in clusters and have elongated leaves with narrow stems. They have stiff, hollow leaves that are dark green. Though these onions are plucked while young, they have the same ingredients as mature onions.

So, you may wonder, is green onions good for cockatiels? No. Green onions are just as toxic to cockatiels as other onions.

Health Risks For Cockatiels Eating Onions

Can Cockatiels Eat Onions? What Are The Risks? 2

Because of thiosulphate and other sulfur compounds, onions have various adverse effects on a cockatiel’s health. Some of these health risks include;

Hemolytic anemia

Onions cause hemolytic anemia. The thiosulphate-based amino acids cause the rupture and destruction of red blood cells. The severity depends on how many onions your cockatiel has eaten. The signs don’t show immediately.

The symptoms of hemolytic anemia include;

  • Discolored poop
  • Weak pulse
  • Random collapse


Onions contain sulfur compounds that become disulfide when pecked at and ingested. The disulfide is acidic, so it irritates the mouth, gullet, and stomach lining, causing discomfort. In extreme cases, the irritation becomes ulcers.


Hemolytic anemia caused by onion consumption causes lethargy, weakness, increasing inactivity, and poor appetite, but the worst effect is death. Since most red blood cells are destroyed, lack of oxygen leads to organ failure and, shortly after, death.

What Are The Symptoms Of Onion Poisoning For Cockatiels?

What Are The Symptoms Of Onion Poisoning For Cockatiels?

You can’t watch your bird all the time, so it could eat onions in your absence. If that happens, the cockatiel will experience onion poisoning and develop the following symptoms.

1. Diarrhea

Typically, your cockatiel’s poop is solid, is coiled a little, and comes with a small amount of clear liquid.  In case of onion poisoning, you will notice that your bird’s poop has changed color and consistency – making it runnier than usual.

2. Vomit

Since thiosulphate affects the gastrointestinal system, your cockatiel will experience vomiting if it eats onions. However, if you notice the bird vomiting, observe to confirm that it is vomiting and not regurgitating.

Regurgitation – The bird ejects small quantities of food in a controlled manner.

Vomiting – When vomiting, the contents of your cockatiel’s stomach are expelled violently and in large quantities.

What Should I Do If My Cockatiel Eats Onions?

If your cockatiel eats onions, no matter how small the quantity, immediately take it to a veterinarian, even if it does not show any signs of illness. The symptoms of onion poisoning can sometimes take a few hours or days to show, so never assume the bird will be fine without going to the vet.

Depending on the severity of the symptoms, the vet will know what to do- flush out the toxins using a crop wash or treat it some other way. The most important thing for you to do is to act promptly because your pet bird’s life depends on it.


Here are the answers to some of the most common questions about feeding cockatiels onions.

Can cockatiels eat cooked onions?

No, cockatiels should not eat any onions, even if cooked. The toxic amino acid in onions is not eliminated by cooking, so the vegetable is still as harmful to the bird as a raw onion. Hence, if you have a cockatiel in your house, you should ensure your kitchen is clear of any scraps of onions at all times.

Can cockatiels eat spring onions?

Spring onions look similar to scallions but have a small bulb at the base of their long stem. However, they have a milder taste compared to other onion varieties. Despite their mild taste, they’re just as toxic to cockatiels as the other onion species.

Is it safe to cook onions around cockatiels?

The fumes released when cooking onions are harmful to cockatiels. This is because they have highly sensitive lungs, making any toxic fumes more dangerous to them than any other pets. If you have to cook in the presence of your pet bird, make sure the room is well-ventilated, and avoid non-stick pans.


Cockatiels should not eat onions because they contain harmful compounds to the birds. For instance, thiosulphate, one of the toxic compounds, destroys red blood cells by rupturing their membranes and hence causes hemolytic anemia.

Besides the dangers of eating the onions, cockatiels must also be kept from smelling them because of the toxic scent glands. Since onions are so toxic, if your feathered friend eats any, take it to the vet immediately, even if there are no immediate symptoms.

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