Can Cockatoos Crack Walnuts? 4 Facts and 3 Myths Unraveled!

Fell in love with a cockatoo already? If yes, you might be thinking about bringing one home and keeping it as a pet. If that’s the case (or you already have gone to the lengths and purchased one), you might be interested in their feeding habits.

One of the questions that keep all cockatoo patents on their toes is, can cockatoos crack walnuts? 

Now, this could sound funny to somebody who has no intention to keep a cockatoo, but people who love them and have them know how important it is to find answers to such questions.

Since cockatoos get bored easily, owners try to engage them in fun activities. Since they won’t catch a frisbee, pet parents give them walnuts and then watch the bird funnily trying to crack the shell. 

Can Cockatoos Crack Walnuts

Well, don’t do it! It’s all fun and games until your cockatoo might hurt itself in the process. No matter how many videos you watch, truth be told, cockatoos can seriously damage their beaks while trying to crack walnuts. It can hurt their tongue too. 

Care to find out the entire truth? If yes, dive down the alleys of this in-depth article!

Can cockatoos eat walnuts?

Isn’t it logical to find out whether or not cockatoos can eat walnuts instead of jumping to the fact whether or not cockatoos can break walnuts? After all, some foods are poisonous for your feathery pal!

Thankfully, walnuts are not in the category of poisonous nuts for cockatoos. So, yes, cockatoos can definitely munch on walnuts since they contain vitamins b6, phosphorus, folic acid, and minerals – they’re all vital nutrients for cockatoos!

Let’s now cut the chase and jump to the question of whether or not cockatoos can crack walnuts.

Can cockatoos crack walnuts? Is it safe?

You might have seen macaws trying to crack walnuts! Did that get you tempted to do this experiment with your cockatoo too?

Well, did you realize that macaws are bigger and stronger than your cockatoo? Despite their size, we’d still say that even macaws shouldn’t be given walnuts with shells. 

Putting things into perspective, our answer is NO. Cockatoo can seriously damage their beaks and their tongue trying to crack walnuts.

Now, you might have seen videos where cockatoos did crack walnuts, but, what’s the guarantee that you birdie will be able to do that too?

Is hurting your feathery pal worth the risk? What they crack and not crack in the wild is their choice, they’re on their own. But, when you keep a cockatoo as your pet, you should understand that they count on you. 

So, giving them a whole walnut and watching them trying to crack open the shell is like inviting damage. Don’t do it!

4 Facts about cockatoos and walnuts that you ought to know 

Although we suggest you shouldn’t let your cockatoo try to break a walnut, we didn’t say don’t feed them walnuts at all. 

There are so many benefits of feeding cockatoos walnuts. Care to learn 4 interesting facts about feeding your birdie walnuts? If yes, read the upcoming sections! 

#1. Walnuts are rich sources of essential vitamins

Cockatoos require vitamin b6 and Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids to stay fit and healthy even after they age and become senior citizens! Jokes apart, walnuts are the best munchies that’ll keep your bird loaded with vitamins that they require. 

Having said that, don’t overfeed them because they enjoy walnuts. Cockatoos don’t know when to stop, so feed them with caution.  

#2. Walnuts are great sources of antioxidants

Just as we humans stay healthy with a good dose of antioxidants, so do cockatoos. Walnuts are tasty treats that will give your cockatoos the antioxidant replenishment they need for better immunity and a healthy gut. 

#3. Walnuts have calcium

Cockatoos are already delicate. You just can’t take chances when it comes to their bone density. So, give them calcium. And the best source of calcium for cockatoos is walnuts. 

Your cockatoo will have healthy and strong bones when fed walnuts. 

#4. Walnuts are good for heart health 

The normal functioning of a cockatoo’s heart requires copper, manganese, folic acid much like we humans do. And walnuts are the safest foods to provide your cockatoos with the nutrition they need for a healthy heart. 

Now you know the facts, let’s bust some myths. 

Top 3 myths about walnuts and cockatoos that can even kill your bird 

#1. You can feed cockatoos as many walnuts as you want 

It’s a deadly myth, really! Refrain from overfeeding walnuts (every sort of nut and food, in general) to your cockatoo. 

You love them, we know. You want to give them tasty treats too! But, don’t you monitor what your kids should eat and in what amount? Cockatoos are no different from kids in this sense.

If they like the taste of something, they would want to eat it all day long every single day. But walnuts in excess can cause obesity. So, feed them to your birdie in moderation – twice a week should be enough!

#2. It’s ok to feed cockatoos salted walnuts once in a while

No, nope, nada! Of course, unless you want your cockatoo to seriously get dehydrated. 

You have to understand that their gut and digestive system aren’t as strong as ours. Salt isn’t exactly a slow poison for cockatoos, it can quickly dehydrate birds.

So, no matter what internet videos say, do not, EVER, feed salted or spiced walnuts to your cockatoo. 

#3. Walnuts are a complete meal for cockatoos

That’s another myth that can starve your bird to death. Walnuts are supposed to be healthy snacks for cockatoos. You can give them to your little pal twice a week, but you can’t replace their entire meal plan with walnuts. 

Cockatoos require more than just walnuts: fruits, veggies, and bird mix are essential too! 

Can you survive on snacks forever? No, right? That’s exactly how it’s for cockatoos too. 

How to feed walnuts to your cockatoos?

We’ve already ruled out feeding them salty and seasoned walnuts. We’ve also suggested why you shouldn’t give them walnuts without breaking the shell first. 

How to feed walnuts to your cockatoos

Didn’t that make you curious about how on earth are you supposed to feed your bird walnuts then? Well, don’t freak out. We’re here to help you, not make things harder!

We’ve listed the many ways in which you can feed walnuts to your bird. Have a look!

1.) Keeping half a slice of walnut in the cage seems the right way to offer treats to your cockatoo. Once you’ve gained their trust, you can also hand feed them. 

2.) You can soak the walnuts in water and then make a paste out of them. Your bird might actually like it. You can also use this walnut gravy and mix it with bird food.

3.) How about roasting the walnut for some time on the stove and then offering it to your Lil pal?

4.) If you can make almond oil at home (it’s really easy, just squeeze the paste you made in the step above, the liquid that filters out is walnut oil), you can give it to your cockatoo. 

Unlike many other fruits and veggies, you don’t really have to chop walnuts. It’s totally your choice, but it’s not a necessity. 

Your pet cockatoo can’t crack a walnut with the shell intact, but it can certainly break half a slice of walnut on its own.

Foods that you should and shouldn’t feed your cockatoos

Fine, they like to eat everything. But in the wild, cockatoos are really smart. They know which berries are edible and which ones can be poisonous.  

But since we’re talking about pet cockatoos here, you’re solely responsible to segregate good food from bad food for your birdie. 

Foods to avoid at all costs

      1. Salted and seasoned food and fruits
      2. Avocado 
      3. Chocolate
      4. Caffeine
      5. Anything that contains lactose

Did you know that feeding chocolate can cause seizures in cockatoos and feeding caffeine can quickly dehydrate them? Did you know that avocados are toxic for all types of parrots, including cockatoos?

Now that you do, make sure you feed none of these items to your cockatoo, EVER!

Food that is great for cockatoos

      1. Walnuts. There are three kinds, black walnuts, English walnuts, and white walnuts. You can feed all of these to your cockatoos.
      2. Spinach 
      3. Oranges 
      4. Raspberries
      5. Almonds
      6. Brazil nuts
      7. Cashews
      8. Unsalted pistachio

Since the list of food you can feed your cockatoos will always be bigger than what you can’t feed them, it shouldn’t be hard to keep them healthy, isn’t it?

Side-effects of overfeeding walnuts to cockatoos

Ain’t it funny how something as beneficial as walnuts can also have serious health repercussions for your innocent birdie if overfed?   

Care to find out the dangers of overfeeding walnuts to cockatoos? Here’s the list!

1.) Walnuts have good fats like omega-3 and omega-6. But, at the end of the day, they’re all fats. If they are fed in excess, they will increase the cholesterol level of your cockatoos.

2.) Heard about atherosclerosis in cockatoos – it’s hardening of the arteries. Walnuts are supposed to prevent it. But, when fed in excess, they actually cause atherosclerosis

3.) The dangers of obesity and high blood pressure can’t be overlooked either if you overfeed walnuts to cockatoos.

Putting it simply, excess walnuts pose the risk of cardiovascular diseases and seizures in cockatoos. 

How much walnut is too much for cockatoos?

Yes, we’ve been talking about overfeeding, but it’s important to let you know how much is too much.

In all honesty, the frequency has to be no more than twice a week. As for the quantity, it depends on how active the cockatoo is. Ideally, 2 or 3 medium-sized walnuts a week are safe for cockatoos. 

But, it’s always better to ask an avian doctor how much walnut you can feed your bird since, as we said, every bird has a different fitness level. It depends upon the metabolic rate of your cockatoo, really!

Signs and symptoms that you’ve overfed walnuts (any food) to your cockatoos

Cockatoos are supposed to be active and happy birds. Put a perch, some twigs, and live plants inside a sizable cage, they’ll be very happy. 

But, overfeeding can make them lazy. If you observe a change in their activeness, overfeeding could be a reason.

Some symptoms that you can identify as ramifications of overfeeding your cockatoo are as follows:

• Your cockatoo will move around less. It will be physically dormant and uninterested in fun games that it liked before.  

• Weight gain and digestive problems are again symptoms of overfeeding.

• Bloating is another indication that you’re overfeeding your bird and you need to stop it. 

Precautions to administer while feeding your cockatoos

We’ll keep it quick. Let’s find out the truth!

• Make sure the walnuts you’re feeding your cockatoos are organic. 

• Ensure there are no signs of mold and fungus in the walnuts. 

• Always take the walnut out of its shell before offering it to your cockatoo.

• Try hand-feeding only after your bird trusts you. There’s no point in stressing out the bird.

• Don’t trust everything you see on YT. Always find the truth and consult an avian doctor in case of any confusion.

You should have a fair bit of idea about walnuts and cockatoos by now. If you still have queries, do check out the bonus FAQs section we’ve specially made for curious cockatoo parents. 


1.) Are walnuts toxic for birds?

No, when given in small portions and in moderation, walnuts can never be toxic. 

However, there are exceptions. For example, salted and seasoned walnuts can be toxic. Excess walnuts can be toxic. And walnuts that are grown using pesticides can be toxic. 

2.) Can cockatoos eat walnuts?

Of course, yes! Walnuts have healthy fats, minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, and whatnot. Your cockatoo will be very healthy and happy when fed walnuts.

3.) Can cockatoos eat roasted walnuts?

Yes, but in moderation. Don’t make a habit of feeding your bird roasted walnuts only. Sometimes, give them pieces of raw walnuts. And sometimes, you can make a gravy or oil out of walnuts. 

4.) Are salted walnuts bad for cockatoos?

Yes. Extremely! No matter what a fellow parrot parent says, salted walnuts or anything salted can never be good for any bird. 

5.) Is it important to chop walnuts before giving them to your cockatoos?

No. You don’t really have to finely chop walnuts unless you want to. Even if you give them a slice, they’ll be able to break the nut easily. 

Concluding Thoughts

You can feed your cockatoos walnuts in moderation. What you shouldn’t do is try to feed them a walnut with its shell intact. 

In the process of trying to crack a walnut, a cockatoo can injure its beak and tongue. It’s fun for you, but frustrating for your feathery pal who’s trying to enjoy a treat. 

Be mindful of how much walnut is too much since excess walnuts can have very bad effects on the heart and digestive system of your cockatoos. 

Susan R Elliston

I have over 11 years of experience as a vet working with a wonderful variety of species of innocent and lovely animals. Whilst I still work two days a week for a local practice, I realized that I could help more people by sharing my knowledge and experience with my readers.

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