Cockatoo Article Library |
Message Board |
" If you're reading this right now,
it's most likely because you have
A "problem" cockatoo. The problem
with the cockatoo however
is usually caused by the person reading
this right now."
My Personal Observations
I know your story... I've heard
it hundreds of times.
Its goes something like this:
1.... "I bought a Moluccan
(or Umbrella) Cockatoo at
the pet store because it
was so cute and friendly! Now
all it wants to do is scream
from morning till night!
I'm going to be evicted if
this doesn't stop!
2.... "I am the
third (4th,5th,6th) owner of a cockatoo
and it screams or attacks
all the time. Acts like its crazy!
3... " I bought a 6 week old
Cockatoo from a pet store/
breeder and it wont eat the
seed/pellet/ (insert anything
but the right thing here)
that I'm trying to feed it. I have
never owned a bird before.
What could possibly be the
4... "We work all day and
my Cockatoo is plucking
out all it's feathers and
now is digging into it's skin to
the point of bleeding. What's
wrong with this bird and
how do I get it to stop??"
to give you the quick 10 minute lesson because you'd fall asleep reading
everything that COULD be written about Cockatoo behavior. Just keep
ONE thing in mind while reading all this: Cockatoos grow up after so many
years. You then can have a "wild" animal on your hands. What
do you do then?
Cockatoo's have THE reputation of being the
most "cuddly" of ALL the parrots. However, unlike dogs, cockatoo's
will only respond "in kind". What that means simply is this:
They will only Give what they
If you bought a cockatoo as an ornament, to
be placed in a cage with interaction on YOUR terms, you'll have a problem.
You don't work the cockatoo around your day...you work your DAY around
your cockatoo! These extremely intelligent creatures are
as emotional as a human beings. And THAT'S what separates them from
the rest of the flock. Many people think that just because a bird
talks, they must be intelligent. Ever seen a Myna bird? It
can mimic with the best but is little more than a crow. And if you
look around, you'll notice that the best talkers are usually also biters.
Cockatoo's aren't the big talkers of all the species, they're lovers.
(At least for a couple of years)
The problem is that like all wild animals,
cockatoos soon grow up! So that "cuddly" baby the petstore promised
you is now attacking your husband, your wife or your kids! Understand
that birds choose a "mate". Once
they do... everyone else is pretty much the enemy. Do you have small
children? Are you willing for them to possible
be mutilated by a big parrot? Feel lucky today?
No... I'm talking about emotional
I do not recommend any single
working person to own a cockatoo, or even couples who work all day. "Interaction"
is the magic word for a single bird.
These birds want it... even if it's just being
able to see you as you go throughout your day around the house. And
to be left alone all day is something that most cockatoos will not tolerate.
They will go "crazy" in no time and YOU will be here reading this. Cockatoos'
need "hands on" attention at least a couple times a day or more. And 7
in the morning and 7 in the evening just aint gonna get it if you work
all day. It will get it however, if someone is home most of the
time and the bird knows that... or if your bird has another bird companion.
But I'm not talking about spoiling
the bird either!
Many folks think that YOU can dictate the
terms of the cockatoos behavior. Well, agree that you CAN spoil a
cockatoo to the point that he will expect the very same treatment for the
rest of his life, and when you die and he still has another 30 years to
live, and the next owner doesn't do what YOU did, then both the bird
AND the new owner are going to be very sick. So be a Parent,
not a Grandparent.
So limits must always be in place so that the
bird knows this. It's up to you to define a time and place for all
interactions with the bird, and make sure that you dont keep a set time
If you do, your bird will expect interaction
at the same time each day. Spoiling this bird can be dangerous to his
health and you will be trying to find another home for it in no time!
At the same time, not enough interaction can result in the same
thing. So find a happy medium for the both of you.
On the other hand, you are required to meet
this birds NEEDS. And no matter what anybody says... It's needs
are more than parrots of other species! They didn't tell you that
in the pet store did they? Of
course not! They want to sell birds, and they're not about to tell
you that owning a cockatoo is like adopting a child. They wont tell
you anything but the basics. Otherwise you'd never buy it,
unless you were ready for a real commitment.
Cockatoo's are the most active of birds.
They were BORN to destroy everything in their path. Its what keeps the
jungle replenished in their homeland and its what they MUST do to
be happy! This means lots of toys and things for them to play with
and chew up. And not a lot of that plastic junk either! I'm talking
about things that they can see results from when they work on it.
Everything from plain old wood to heavy cardboard can keep them BUSY for
hours. Puzzles fascinate cockatoo's. Place something inside of something
else, and they will spend half the day trying to get it out. Note:
It MUST be able to be removed
at some point by the bird or he will lose interest in it.SAFE
toys are another entire subject for which I will not go into here.
See My Dangerous toys link for more info.
I could go on for days on the subject, but
I wont. I would like to address statement #3 at the top of the page however:
No inexperienced person should purchase an unweaned cockatoo (or any bird
for that matter) without complete and formal instruction from the seller.
And no inexperienced person should attempt to feed a M2 or U2 less than
6 months old in my opinion. Final weaning stages are fine, but long
term feeding is not for the "Newbie" and is very dangerous.
The bottom line is this: Interaction
and "busywork" are the emotional keys to happy healthy 'Toos. Proper
diet is a MUST also (See my food page) because behavior is
often related to diet. And one other thing: If you feel that
you have given plenty of time, toys, and good diet to your 'Too, and he's
still plucking....... take him to a vet and have a CBC, grams stain,
fecal check and heavy metal screening done just to make sure there are
no other illnesses present.
COCKATOO STRESS METER?
Yes! Click Here.
Some will disagree with this
opinion, and that's to be expected.
But most of those people do not own large 'Toos ,
are sellers, or just don't have a clue.
But when 8 out of 10 people
cant talk about their cockatoo unless its some sort of "problem" then it's
time that these facts are known. And once again, it's up you you to provide
for the animals needs... not the other way around. If you cant
do this...find someone who can. Read everything you can find...then read
Who's the Boss... and does it
I get letters like this every
I was reading through your site and I believe
that people do need more knowledge when purchasing birds in general and
cockatoos in particular. With that in mind, I have a question
maybe you can help with. My girlfriend took in a 6 year old male
(guesstimate) in the last year or so. Who knows what he went thru
before. She has had and does have many birds already. She is the
kind of bird owner other bird owners call to ask questions of and we use
the 2 best aviarian veterinarians in the area. They have not been
able to help. Here goes. Best guess is that now at approxiamately
8 years of age, this bird is at his sexual beginnings, "finding
himself". He has decided apparently that she is his chosen.In
the beginning, he was very affectionate and because they are
home often, got to get out and play and roam like her other birds.
He gets to go out in the summer and has plenty of company and exercise.
He then became very excitable if she went to move or if a paper was crumpled,
He became protective of her around the other
birds that she did not need protecting from. She has been bitten
and attacked and he now chases her and bites her feet if allowed out.
She has a hard time getting him back in the cage when this happens and
is finding it increasingly difficult to give him attention or let him out
at all! Now he has also bitten her husband. She has tried
to cage him when he misbehaved, moved him to another room, and tried
to comfort him and got bit then too! We have looked for answers everwhere.
Exhausted our knowledge and any suggestions short of giving him to a breeder.
The vet even took him home for a week, but lost her bird due to a
heart attack during his stay and returned him. The time away did
no good. He is absolutely pitiful when left in the cage and craves
attention, but how can he get it this way?? We are open to any and
all suggestions to turn this behavior around! Looking forward to
hearing from you,
*sigh.... He is doing what he was genetically
programmed by nature to do. Cockatoos are not
domestic animals that we can train away what
we consider to be bad behaviors. He is protecting his mate and is
attempting to get her out of harms way (or removing her away from
what he considers to be other suitors) by biting her. He doesn't
understand that she has no feathers to protect her from the biting.
If he's past that stage however, he simply wants to mate. If
its a Moluccan (in particular) he will go so far as to mutilate the
female that doesn't want to breed with him. At this point he
is very jealous of all the other birds in the house. Now, after having
said all that...... A large cockatoo has a SERIOUS pecking order.
In the wild it would be HIM, his mate, any offspring, then all other
In captivity its (supposed) to be YOU...then
HIM....then YOUR mate ...then all others. ( Sorry, but there can
only be ONE boss in his life and he doesn't like that one bit either,
but with proper handling, it CAN be
I have found that Moluccans (for instance)
usually are willing to accept a man as boss over a woman easier.
Why? For the exact same reason WE do. I know this isn't
politically correct but stay with me here: To a Moluccan, a
man has a stronger feel (especially in everyday handling) and
louder stronger deeper voice. The cockatoo can FEEL the power
of a man. And if that man knows what he's doing, he can pretty
much become the boss of the bird.
BOSS: (My definition) A person
who has more control over the bird than anyone else in the house.As "boss"...
you are at best meeting the bird halfway, but are in no position
to have complete control over this wild animal any more than you have control
over a cat! Actually, a cat is a good way
to think of the type of relationship you'll have with these birds.
Now really... are you the "boss"of your cat? Of course not.
You both have an agreement to live together and that's about it.
The are SOME women that can pull this off
also, but it doesn't come naturally. Cockatoos aren't stupid.
They know who in the house has the real power, whether by observation
or interaction. ( If that person happens to be the woman, the 'Too will
know it also) and are somewhat willing to submit to this power (assuming
of course that the person having the power loves the bird.) Even
then, that doesn't mean that an adult cockatoo will bow to any man!
It simply means that he will ALLOW you to be boss. Cockatoos
gravitate towards the person who loves them most, interacts
and feeds them most. But that doesnt mean that the person will wind-up
being the "mate". Natures funny that way.
Now.... if that's a woman, she may think "He
loves me and doesn't like my husband so I must be the boss and trainer."
Sorry! WRONG! The cockatoo loves you until he gets breeding
age and then HE becomes YOUR boss. He knows he can get away with
it because you REALLY don't have the power, the roughness, the feel, the
strength all of the things that he NEEDS to decide that you really
ARE the boss in the pecking order. (Sorry about that womens
libbers but you just cant fool Mother Nature no matter how hard you try...)
The question then boils down to: How hard a bite can you take and howmany
times can you take them? Unless you're willing to get scarred
up a little, forget it.
He (like children) needs a strong "Father"
figure to look up to. This is why human children are more scared
of their fathers than mothers. Again however, his "place" may
not be YOUR place. In other words,
you can only ask so much of him. Because like it or not, he is a
WILD creature! And though he may seem cuddly and domestic for
years, nature will eventually come to call. And when that
happens, there's not a damned thing you can do about it but hang
in there. Its not a "problem" to them ...it's what they do.
Its only a problem to you. Its called nature, and sometimes
it isn't pretty. This is another
one of the many reasons I dont think large cockatoos make good pets.
They ARENT pets...see?
Alpha leader today, but who
knows in the future... as I get older...
and weaker... they are always
to the Main Page Contents
the Food page