Photo by Hideo Honda Location: Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands Who: Galah "Bondi"
I am constantly recommending these birds as pets to people who have their eyes SET on a cockatoo (FYI: I never recommend cockatoos as pets to anyone, but if you are so set on one you have to have it, this is the only one I'd tell someone to get of the cockatoo family). I first heard about them from Dave when he took a trip to Australia by himself and saw them all around. In Australia, they are called "galahs" and are pretty much pigeons there and pests. But in the US, they are a $1,200 and up priced pet parrot.
Now, they are still cockatoos. So yes, they are needy and can have short attention spans! Cockatoos need constant stimulation mentally to keep them busy and growing. Trick training is great for rosies. Bondi (pictured above) will literally go into what I call "training mode" when I bring out the clicker or target stick. She loves it! See some of her tricks showcased on my other entry: Parrot Tricks.
She is the smartest of our current flock and learns the fastest. These characteristics she has developed makes her the most fun to teach new things to. We even taught her how to look like she was "releiving herself" on a play fire hydrant:
She is such a fast learner, we taught that in one day. The other great thing about rose breasted cockatoos is that they have much smaller beaks than the larger cockatoos. They won't be sending you to the ER that night like an Umbrella or Moluccan would. Not to say their bites don't hurt, they do (even parakeet bites hurt!) but they are not as serious. Their beaks are smaller than an African Grey's beak.
Photo by Jamieleigh Location: Orlando, Florida Who's the Cutie: Rosie Cockatoo "Bondi"
The great thing about them, too, is that they are still cockatoos and cockatoos are fun! They are social, and naturally NOT one person birds. So socializing comes pretty naturally and easy when it comes to them. They appreciate attention from strangers and are stimulated by new things. When we take our birds to board at our vet while we are away on a trip, the staff gets so excited and the first thing they ask is, "Is Bondi staying with us?!"
They cannot wait to see her and when we get back, they have tons of photos of our flock around the place on bulliten boards and are sad to see them go. It's really flattering to know they love her so much (and the rest of them) but we can all tell Bondi is a favorite. We lost count of how many people came up and said they would be happy to take her home and keep her forever if it ever came up (yeah right, but thanks for the offer!).
Photo by Dave Location: Orlando, Florida Who: Rose Breasted Cockatoo "Bondi"
The other general cockatoo characteristic they have is that yes, they are cuddly like cockatoos carry the reputation to be. Bondi loves to be covered in blankets, sweatshirts, etc. She loves popping her head out of the blanket and looking cute as ever. A cuddly bird seems to be very important to most people, however, it's important to know the bird doesn't naturally come in every way you want it. It's about how you raise it to be. Bondi came to us hating her back being touched (and these photos are all of her!) so it took trust-based-training to work through any quirks she came to us with.
The most popular characteristic about rosies that most people fall in love with... is that they are pink! I love the way they look, and people have accussed me of using dye on my birds before just because no one sees galahs around as pets. I hope they get more popular, and I think they are. They are a managable size, noise level, and capable of everything you would want as a pet. They can learn to talk (Bondi currently says... I love you, Thank you, Hey Bondi, Bondi Butt, Butts!, Hey Cutie, Night Night, and more!)
Rosies are also very skilled fliers - and it's very important to keep them full flighted and flight trained because they tend to develop fatty tumors which is the leading cause of their deaths. It's essential for these birds to be on the proper diet. With the right diet and being able to exercise with flight, they will stay healthy and happy. Most birds develop behavioral problems (as well as physical) from being clipped - they can't get the exercise they need and in turn begin to turn unhealthy which makes us all feel bad. Then, if they are eating junk food on top of that, you feel even worse and get more and more unhealthy. So dive into learning what it takes to indoor flight train because it's so much fun and you can't create a stronger bond with your bird!
Photo by Jamieleigh Location: Orlando, Florida Who's excited: Galah "Bondi"
Who wouldn't want to look at this face every day?
Note an important comment from a current rose breasted cockatoo owner:
Hey :] I just read your blog about Rosebreasted cockatoos. I think there is some misinformation or missing information. I have two Gahals. One boy (7 years old) and one girl (4 years old). They are by far my favorite bird. Please, don’t forget to write that these birds are definatly NOT for everyone! If they aren’t taken to lots of new places and outside a lot before they turn 1 then they become almost phobic. My boy is afraid of everything and everyone he doesn’t know. We’ve been working with him on this since he was 1 year old. It makes him a verry difficult pet to have. Even going outside farther then the yard is a frightening expirience for him. He’s even afraid of gnats if they fly too close to him. This is really common for Gahals. IMPORTANT WARNING FOR PEOPLE CONSIDERING ROSE BREASTED COCKATOOS AS PETS!!!!!! PLEASE READ!!! They require 100% of you’re constant attention and get REALLY upset if they can’t constantly see you. My boy is attached to my mom and the girl to me. (She doesn’t like boys so she prefers me to to him), When we leave and they’e home alone togethe it’s terrible on them. These birds are ONLY for people who have A LOT of time to spend with them. They’re ok just being in the same room as us but if we’re in the other room and they can’t see us they act like we’re leaving forever. Please stop recomending this type of bird to people!!! I love my Gahalas more than anything and would never want to see any bird in a home it’s not happy in. Verry few people have the time, knowledge, and attention to give to any parrot, let alone one like this.
Article by Jamieleigh Womach. She has been working with parrots and toucans since the age of 17. She isn’t homeless but is home less than she prefers to be. She travels the world with her husband, daughter, and a flockful of parrots whom she shares the stage with.