Cockatoos

Cockatoos are a very popular choice as companions for many new bird lovers. Along with their stunning appearance, they are a very interactive species both emotionally and physically: traits that make them endearing.

However, the cockatoo is arguably the most complicated and challenging of the many parrot species. For that reason they are the ones most often relinquished to rescues and sanctuaries when things go wrong. Furthermore, as cockatoos never do anything in a small way, when things go wrong, they go very wrong.

The cockatoo, particularly the white ones, might well be their own worst enemies. These birds love affection. In fact, they CRAVE your physical attention and would do nothing else but cuddle all day if given the opportunity. When you pair that bird with an owner who is all too happy to hold the bird around the clock, then the result is a bird that is ONLY happy when plastered to the chest of its owner.

It becomes unwilling to function independently; the minute you step away, it screams. It is the beginning of a cycle that is difficult to manage.

Even the comparatively small and demure Goffin's cockatoo can pack a wallop with unwanted behaviors when things are allowed to get out of hand. Like their larger cockatoo cousins, they need specific handling in order to thrive in captivity.

Highly Intelligent... Highly Destructive...

Cockatoos are highly intelligent parrots with a seemingly innate understanding of manipulation. They learn almost immediately what they need to do to get our approval, and they use it. You will often hear a heartfelt “I love you” just before you discover the decimation of your computer keyboard.

Speaking of decimation, there will be plenty of that! A large bird with a large beak, the cockatoo needs to be kept active with TOYS made of wood and other shreddable materials if your furniture is to remain intact. They are also very adept with foraging toys. If there has ever been a parrot species that was put on this planet to benefit from training, it is the cockatoo.

Cockatoos are very full of themselves and believe that the sun rises only for them each day. They are happiest when you get onboard with that idea. TRAINING makes them the sole focus of your attention (just as it should be from their standpoint). They will go to great lengths to earn rewards, and praise is often as acceptable to them as food. The many ways you will also benefit from their training can be our little secret.

The bottom line is that the cockatoos are not for the faint of heart. The people that do the best with them are those who know when to say no and mean it. Consistency with your actions will be challenging with a bird that cuddles under your chin and tells you they love you, but it is imperative you stick to your guns.

Did you know that:

⦁ a cockatoo is capable of producing vocalizations that can carry for over a mile in the wild? You can only imagine what that same volume would be like in your home.

⦁ a cockatoo bite is different from other bird bites? The cockatoo’s lower mandible has two prongs that when combined with the pointed top mandible gives them the advantage of being able to hold and tear in three separate places. This is not something you want to learn about firsthand.

If you own a cockatoo or are going to, we highly recommend this training package at the very least!

The following are some articles from our blog as well as further resources that you will find helpful:

15 comments

Linda Engelbrecht

I have a Cockatoo with red leg band JPW FL 6 on stamped on it and would like to know about what age she is. I got her from a lady that had her 2 years and now I’ve had her 6 years.

Linda Engelbrecht
Jim Nedved

I have a 3 year old female Major Mitchell Cockatoo (Piper) for whom I would like to find a mate. We are very close (not with my wife though). If I find an acceptable male will she she be my friend? Or will all her affection go to her mate?

Jim Nedved
Corina Karpov

Hi y’all I’ve got lovely Citron Cockatoo who is terrified of my husband. We’ve done power pauses, treat encouragement but all that work fades quickly. Any advice would be appreciated.

Corina Karpov
hazmah

i am 14 and go to school wich cockatoo shall get

hazmah
S Vaidhya

I bought my son a galah and he’s a angel well maybe a little

S Vaidhya
Sofia

I’ve fallen in love with a bird who’s owner doesn’t care… Hi there I’ve been looking to get a bird for A while now. I’ve been doing lots of research and slowly preparing all of the birds needs However the one thing I’m completely stuck on is WHERE do I find my feathered life partner. I’d love to get a bird from a rescue or off someone who needs a new home for their bird. So I’ve been doing some window shopping on gumtree (like creigslist ) for a bird. I however have fallen in love with one cockatoo who’s owner doesn’t seem to care. I’ve asked for a name and age among other things but I’ve gotten nothing back. Frustrating ! The owners don’t seem to know English very well and aren’t answering any of my questions. This bird by the looks of the photos lives in a small extremely messy gross cage ( a cage I’d say is way too small for my Mums love birds ) AND is on the floor. I know this bird is going to be a challenge and a half. I don’t want to give the owner money for keeping a bird in this way but I also don’t want to turn my head to this kind of neglect, I also don’t want to reward this owner by giving them money. I don’t think it’s bad enough to inform RSPCA as the bird at least ‘looks’ healthy enough but for a bird lover I know this is no way to keep a bird. Do I pay the 500$ and take the bird or do I move on and continue my search ? Some hard honest advice would be very much appreciated x I’m from Australia if that gives you some context (maybe that’s why a cockatoo has stolen my heart )

Sofia
Ana

Hi! Hope all is well! I am looking forward to possibly hiring you sometime soon to help me get my birds up to speed. Today I put a new toy in my 23 year old bare-eyed cockatoos cage. I have to admit it has been a while since I have done that. Anyway, she started to regurgitate or throw up after she started playing with it. Is this hormonal? I made a vet appointment for her just in case it’s her throwing up. Thanks in advance for giving me your input. Ana

Ana
Jacqueline Gedye

An old cockatoo/rose breasted can change, but it takes heaps of time and patience. Without the beginners Bird Trick video and the YouTube videos, mine would still be a seed addicted / cage bound/biter. Be aware a cockatoo always has the potential to bite , in the beginning I got quite a few, for not reading his body language and pushing when he was communicating no, body language now learnt, I can still get caught, but the bites are few and more like a tap meaning get off, leave me alone.Never take this personally, in a flock a bite to an annoying relative is a mouthful of feathers. Try not to react, cockatoos love drama and reaction. Feeding is key, seasonal feeding system a life saver. Treats of seeds and nuts only for clicker training. Lots of interactive toys, foraging, cockatoos in the wild spend 70% of their time with that agile clever brain food foraging and flying.In captivity they can become bored , miserable and fat. They need interaction and training. I can not recommend Bird Tricks videos more highly, they have saved an old galah(Chopper) and improved all our lives.

Jacqueline Gedye
Mingka

I’ve had 2 To os for over 7 years. At the time I got the second one, I was out of the house for four hours a day. Ha…thought that being in different LARGE cages…they would get used to each other. Didn’t happen. Luckily..the second one I got is the best baby in the world. She is loud, but anyone can hold her..she loves everyone. Harri(etta) is all should ask for. Fussy…but will take peanuts from humans. Otherwise, only certain foods. My firebird is Big Bird. He was passed around a bit. The man I got him from saw me looking at a show. He called me after the first man who got wouldn’t keep him. His first owners actually shot each other. One died. After seven years, he is still terrified of even t. v. noises like that. He bit me so much my dr. asked at a yearly exam if I needed help with spousal abuse. Really happened. I started reading about toos in the wild. They bite their mates to make them leave the area when there is danger. I was the first female he had been around. Now I had a loud, scared, bipolar bratty three year old in disquise… Ok….I can handle this. I’ve raised farm and wildlife animals. First…shoe him I’m his protector. Again, more bites. But, yes he did understand eventually that I had to protect him. A noise, I hugged him. Got a nip…but he cuddled more. Loud talking, New people, anything set him off I have him a hug . Well kinda put my arms around him…not squeezing. Just low talking.and calm. Putting him in cage with out getting arm tore off. Hmmmm…oh yeah…he loves to ride the broom so much….five minutes of broom time of more if arm can take it. Then into the cage carefully but firmly. Sometimes a towel wrap still has to b used. Best tip I know…keep the nails trimmed. You don’t get clawed so bad…and bird can grip fighter to feel more secure. Keep loving your babies….I New people in house…my grandson got bit. Now I don’t let any one come in without instructions on how to use my bird broom if birds r out.

Mingka
Mingka

I’ve had 2 Tom’s for over 7 years. At the time I got the second one, I was out of the house for four hours a day. Ha…thought that being in different LARGE cages…they would get used to each other. Didn’t happen. Luckily..the second one I got is the best baby in the world. She is loud, but anyone can hold her..she loves everyone. Harri(etta) is all should ask for. Fussy…but will take peanuts from humans. Otherwise, only certain foods. My firebird is Big Bird. He was passed around a bit. The man I got him from saw me looking at a show. He called me after the first man who got wouldn’t keep him. His first owners actually shot each other. One died. After seven years, he is still terrified of even t. v. noises like that. He bit me so much my dr. asked at a yearly exam if I needed help with spousal abuse. Really happened. I started reading about toos in the wild. They bite their mates to make them leave the area when there is danger. I was the first female he had been around. Now I had a loud, scared, bipolar bratty three year old in disquise… Ok….I can handle this. I’ve raised farm and wildlife animals. First…shoe him I’m his protector. Again, more bites. But, yes he did understand eventually that I had to protect him. A noise, I hugged him. Got a nip…but he cuddled more. Loud talking, New people, anything set him off I have him a hug . Well kinda put my arms around him…not squeezing. Just low talking.and calm. Putting him in cage with out getting arm tore off. Hmmmm…oh yeah…he loves to ride the broom so much….five minutes of broom time of more if arm can take it. Then into the cage carefully but firmly. Sometimes a towel wrap still has to b used. Best tip I know…keep the nails trimmed. You don’t get clawed so bad…and bird can grip fighter to feel more secure. Keep loving your babies….

Mingka
Elizabeth Wharton

Hi there! I would love some advice for my dad’s female Goffin’s cockatoo. She originally was supposed to be mine, but she fell head over heels for my dad. I have tried to become her friend by bribing her with treats and playing with her (usually just dancing to the music and cheering when she dances too). However, she always tries to bite me when I try to give her treats. Recently, she has gone out of her way to attack me. The worst occurrence was when she launched herself and bite my face so hard, she gave me a black eye. Thankfully, she missed my eye. My dad and I are at a loss. We don’t know what to do. My dad travels a lot during the summer, so this is why I’ve been trying hard to be her friend so she isn’t lonely. She is especially aggressive to me when both my dad and I are in the same room. Any advice?

Elizabeth Wharton
Janet higgins

I have a goffin cockatoo for over 12 years. Very sweet talks up a storm. However he started chewing his feathers . He has toys lots of attention nutritious food but this habit is n making him look terrible. Help!

Janet higgins
Emilie Call

Hello! Do you have advice on bringing our baby Half Moon Conure home next week? For the first day and first week, month etc. for helping her to adjust to her new home. We are a family of 6, we have 4 kids and we visit her every day so she should recognize us but not our home. 2. Do you suggest starting with lots of toys and perches in her cage all at once or add one item in at a time? 3. We want to be able to take her outside often but the breeder clipped her wings and we don’t want her to try to fly away or get hurt. We are thinking of a harness for a while. If we do that is it best to wait until she’s adjusted or try it soon so she gets used it. I’d imagine exposing her to many things at the start could be good to desensitize her early on like car rides etc. but I also don’t want to overwhelm her. Any advice is very appreciated! Warmest Regards, Emilie Call

Emilie Call
Van G.

After 20 years’ experience with my male moluccan, named Peaches, I agree with all of the above. My boy can break the welds on his heavy-duty cage and bend the bars. His siren scream can be heard a mile away. He cannot be left out of his cage unattended, because he ALWAYS finds something to destroy within a minute. Despite running a HEPA filter 24/7 in his room, his powder collects on everything. Peaches (aka Powder Boy & Mr. Powdrell) is a brilliant, trusting, sensitive, jealous, passionate, entertaining, and glorious being who I feel honored to care for.

Van G.
Casandra McGruther

Hello, my parents have a Rose Breasted Cockatoo. It was bought for my mom from a family that couldn’t keep him after the owner passed away. My poor mom can not even touch this bird. We have had many Parrots in the past. This is the first one my mom has ever been afraid of. He is very bi-polar. I feel bad for him we cant really get him out because of his behavior. Example. For some reason he loves me ( I actually want to try and take him home and see if I can work with him.) When I go to my parents he comes right to the side up the cage and wants me to take him out. I ask him to step up and he does , then I take him out and let him play. If I am alone he seems to be okay for the most part. I get nervous because he changes in the drop of a hat. If I have him out and someone walks in the room, he changes instantly. He will start biting me or will actually fly off of my shoulder or hand and go attack who ever is in the room. Once he gets a hold of you HOLY COW its scary and it hurts. The last time he did this I grabbed him off the person and tried to calm him down before I put him back in his cage. It did work but it was a struggle to get him back in his cage. I am wondering if you have any tips. I don’t think its fair to him. He is loving deep down. Thank you

Casandra McGruther

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