Cockatoos stand out from other parrot species with their dramatic crest feathers, dusty feathers, and varying shades of white, pink, gray and black. Pet cockatoos are often referred to as “velcro” birds because of their highly sociable nature and borderline obsessive need to be around the people in their lives. Cockatoos range in size from medium to large.
Native Region / Natural Habitat
There are 21 species of cockatoos, that belong to the family Cacatuidae. The various cockatoo species have native ranges in Australia, Australasia, Indonesia, the Solomon Islands and New Guinea.
Personality & Behavior
Cockatoos are often described as intelligent and emotional birds and many describe life with a cockatoo as living with a perpetual 2-year-old child, capable of temper tantrums as well as complete silliness.
Speech & Sounds
Cockatoos can be extremely loud, especially when seeking attention and at certain times of the day, such as at sunrise and sunset. They can learn to speak a few words and phrases.
Care & Feeding
A cockatoo needs a well-constructed cage to not only prevent it from escaping but to prevent the bird from destroying it. A pet cockatoo will need a steady supply of appropriate items to chew and destroy. Cockatoos tend to be needier than other pet parrot species and an owner should set boundaries early on, otherwise the bird might scream for attention. A cockatoo new to the home should not be showered with non-stop attention, but rather given toys and other enrichment opportunities as well as intermittent attention so that the bird learns to keep itself entertained when the people in its life are not able to offer one-on-one time.
Food for cockatoos should be nutritious, but should also include a foraging element as well. Cockatoos are fun-loving, intelligent and energetic parrots, and their food should reflect those traits. Wild cockatoos forage all day for seeds and nuts, as well as coconuts and grain crops. Like all companion parrots, cockatoos do not thrive on birdseed alone. Cockatoo food shouldn’t be boring to eat, either, and will love foods like Avi-Cakes, Nutri-Meals, Pellet-Berries, Nutri-Berries, and Lafeber’s Premium Daily Diet Pellets.
Health & Common Conditions
Moluccan cockatoos are prone to picking at or pulling out their feathers is not offered sufficient mental stimulation. Other diseases/conditions found in cockatoos include psittacine beak and feather disease (PBFD), fatty liver disease and obesity if fed a diet too high in fat.
Get a Cockatoo
Cockatoos are available from avian-specialty stores, bird breeders as well as for adoption from bird rescue organizations. Cockatoos are often given up for adoption due to behavior issues, which makes this a bird that needs to be fully researched and thought out before bringing one home. Ideally, a new cockatoo owner should work with an experienced cockatoo breeder and/or avian behaviorist early on to set a cockatoo up for success as a companion pet.