Ask Lafeber

Question:

April 23, 2018

Cockatoo nesting behavior


My cockatoo is over 40 years old, He was very attached to me ,but I gave him a plastic white top to a can , it’s about the same size as a hairspray can top. I thought he would enjoy playing with the top. My bird sits on the top 24/7 he will not leave it for more than 10 minutes. Is this normal? Is it okay for me to allow him to sit on this can top? It’s as if he thinks it is his egg? One positive to this is he doesn’t scream as much as he used to! He put the top at the bottom of the cage and covers it with his body and paper over his head . It looks like a little nest. Do boy Cockatoo’s care for the eggs? Do you think he thinks this is an egg? What should I do?

Thank you

Suevan Gentry

Columbia,SC


Answer:

Hi Suevan,

Yes, he does seem to think he is sitting on an egg. You didn’t mention how long this has been going on, but if it has been longer than a month, I think it would be a good idea to take the item away. He clearly wants to nest – he is certainly mature enough – and probably it was just the right circumstances of his hormones being active when you gave him this. It’s OK to humor him for a short time – I mentioned a month due to this being about the incubation period for eggs. But this can become obsessive and turn into a more serious behavioral problem. Get him away from his cage with treats or food and remove the item when he can’t see you. You should also take away any paper or anything else he is using to make a nest. Moving the toys around and even moving his cage to another part of the room can also help break this cycle.

I would also recommend modifying how you handle him, because you are probably stimulating his hormones without meaning to. It is easy to cuddle with a cockatoo because they can be so cuddly. But as they get older, the hormones take over and it can lead to severe aggression in a male and excessive egg laying in a female. Try to limit petting to his head and stop petting him under the wings and anywhere around his tail. This is contact that only his mate would have with him, and as a precursor to mating. When we pet them this way, it leads to a lot of frustration for the bird. If you feed a lot of fresh foods, you might cut back on those for the time being, only offering them a couple of times a week. An abundance of foods can also encourage nesting behavior.

Thank you for asking Lafeber,

Brenda

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