Ask Lafeber


May 24, 2019

Male Cockatoo and Nesting Behavior

We have a 13 year old Cockatoo, named Bird. He came to us at the age of 6, abused, malnourished, and aggressive. Very pleased to report after many years of patience and very slow movement, lots of TLC, and being bitten more than once, he is now affectionate, trusting, and loving. However, he is in a full blown mating rut and thinks that “I am his Bird.” To date, he has destroyed part of a kitchen cabinet and a antique book. He is overly defiant, aggressive, and verbally demanding. In order to keep him distracted, we built a large wooden box, open entrance, perch, and parapet with casters so it can be easily moved. A Junior moveable Castle, if you will. His own mobile chew toy. That distracted him from the kitchen cabinet(s). However, he is in nesting mode and charges me from the box when I walk by; screams at me frequently; and always wants to be perched on me. I have read both your articles about nesting behavior and deterring it. Sound advice for those of us who were not bird wise; thank you. However, my question is will this eventually phase out and return again next Spring or will the horny adolescent phase continue until his reproductive needs are deterred? It is possible we saved the rest of the kitchen cabinets but escalated his hormone level simultaneously.


Hi David,

This is so common with mature male cockatoos. It tends to be worse when they first become mature. So hopefully he will not be as bad each time. I would definitely take his box away from him – this is only encouraging the situation. It sounds like he must have a lot of freedom? As I am sure you have read, this is not good for deterring breeding behavior. He needs to be in his cage unless he is being handled or supervised. If this means he stays in his cage because of aggression, then that is what must be done. You can buy him some extra toys to destroy. Letting him roam makes it impossible to work with, because he has no reason to mind you. If he behaves, he can be out of the cage, if he doesn’t, he stays in the cage. Don’t make it a punishment, just calmly put him back in his cage when he acts out. When he is calmer, I would suggest stick training him – teaching him to step up on a stick before you handle him. This can serve as a buffer during the hormonal season. And I know you have read about petting – you need to limit all petting to his head. Anything else sends him the signal that you are his mate, and this results in frustration and then aggression. This goes for all of the time. I know how tempting it is to cuddle with him, but giving into this puts him one step closer to ending up in a parrot rescue. Male cockatoos can be dangerous, so you need to do everything you can to set the boundary between him being a bird, and you being a human companion.

Here are some more links that may help, including a link to stick training(see teaching and learning).

Caring For Your Bird

Thank you for asking Lafeber,


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