First let me say this: Most cockatoos are brought
home with only the little info that
the pet store provided. These birds do not get
their needs met, and so start down that
road to self destruction very quickly. These
are the 'Toos that wind up in Rescues.
The cockatoos that are properly bred and weaned,
and who's owners have done all
the research are in a much better position.... but
by no means "out of the woods".
Why? Here's the problem: When a bird such
as this is in close proximity to you,
( in the same house in other words) and you ignore
it, then it becomes frustrated to
the point of self destruction. This is why interaction
is required. Interaction will help
to stave off the fact that this is STILL a wild animal.
Then the question becomes but
for how long? I get too many letters a week
telling me that even with all the care and
attention, the bird is starting to slowly self destruct.
The only difference in this scenario
and the one above, is that this one takes a lot longer.
In other words, instead of the
bird plucking in 2 to 4 years, it may wait 8 to 10
years because it was diverted by much
better care. These are the birds that WE suffer
over, because we have tried so hard to
provide a proper home. And we just cant understand
WHY our "baby" is doing this!
Now... lets back up a minute! We all know that
TOO much attention can spoil the
bird right? And those results can be just as
devastating down the road. For instance: Lets say an old couple own a large
'Too. The old couple has properly met the birds
needs. Lets say the old couple dies and leaves
the bird to someone who doesn't treat it
exactly like they did. The bird, both from stress
of losing its owners and the difference
in environment, will likely start to self destruct.
So in this case, it was the old couple
who provided proper care, of which was then lacking
with the new owners. Now, some
might say "But if the bird wasn't so imprinted (spoiled)
to begin with, it could have
made the transformation easier".
This is the very complicated part of 'Too ownership.
On one hand, they are right,
the bird needs to be as independent as possible to
avoid this complication. But large
'Toos placed in HOMES can never be independent! As
long as they see you, or know
that you're in the house, they will scream for you
when they want you, or quickly
start to self destruct if the "proper" amount of attention
isn't given. Let me stress
that word again... "PROPER" amount. Here's
where the real complications begin:
Each bird has different needs according to how it
was bred, weaned, and raised.
How much is enough? How much is too little?
How much is TOO much? How can
you tell? What's the meaning of life?
Why are we here? Why are these birds here?
There are NO easy answers to ANY of the questions above!
But I'll tell you ONE
thing: There are people out there attempting to convince
you that they have all the
answers...... that they know just exactly how much
attention, or lack thereof, should
be given to these birds. This is NOT possible!
Just as your human child is completely
different from all other human children, even though
they are all STILL human, so
it is with these large 'Toos. Some need more...
some need less.... and it's up to you
to decide. But how CAN you?? You're no
parrot behaviorist! You're probably
even new to all this. You have a life to live
and food to get on the table! Now, after
you have suffered through ALL of this, and found just
the "right" amount of
interaction, your bird starts to pluck.
You're crushed. You blame yourself. You look
for answers that too many people are willing to give,
like: DRUGS. Thats right. Birdy
Prozac.... and Collars and Bitter Sprays and
the list goes on. The really sad thing is
that all of these horrible horrible "cures" would
never be necessary in the wild!
But back to my point here: I knew a lady
that had 2 Moluccans. They were side by
side in their cages. Over the years the male
reached sexual maturity, while the female
had not. (Not that it would have mattered because
the lady had no intention of
breeding them) Now, the male is only inches
away from the female, but cant get to her.
His natural hormonal instincts demanded that he breed
with this female just inches
away. What do you think happened? If you
said "started plucking" you'd be right!
He was absolutely fit to be tied! He was a wild
creature attempting to do what he was
programmed to do without success. He started
taking it out on himself. He was SO
close but still SO far from her. Does anyone
see where this is going yet......?
The very same thing applies when there is only one
bird in the house, and that birds
"mate" is YOU! If he can SEE you or HEAR
you and is yet ignored by you, what
do you think is going to happen? You see...
this is one of those complicated times
that you'd better know when to interact and when not
to. This is also one of those
time when you'd better know HOW to interact.
P.S.... For all of you reading this,
please don't e-mail me for answers to these questions.
I spend enough time on the
computer as it is trying to help people with less
complicated but important problems
and I simply don't have the time. Besides, without
actually seeing the bird, all I could
offer is guidelines. And as every birds a little
different, my internet answers might be
useless anyway. Find someone in your area that
knows about these birds if possible.
This brings us to an interesting point: By now
you've probably heard people say
" ignore him when he screams". Well, yes in
some cases and no in others. It really
depends on WHY he's screaming. Is he hormonal?
Is he lonely? Is he spoiled? Is
he frustrated with being cooped up in a cage all day?
He has lots of reasons to be
cranky, and so would you if you were placed in prison.
Doesn't this suck?
So, like a human baby, depending on why your
bird is screaming has to be determined
by you as to whether it demands your attention
or if the bird is just spoiled. If you
make the wrong choice too many times, then you will
see the consequences of your
Here is what we have learned from CAGE kept
'Toos: A 'Too in the house in a
cage will need much interaction. Since it cant
fly, it will take all of that built up
energy and demand your attention more. If you
don't provide it, he will take it out
on himself. If you provide it and then stop...
he will take it out on himself. If you
just ignore him, he will take it out on himself.
You just cant seem to win can you???
Many of these problems can be eliminated with an aviary
or good flight cage.
You're looking at a couple of thousand dollars to
provide one. Everyone seems
to be attempting to save a buck by checking out all
other "cures" for their birds.
Sorry. But after all is said and done, an Aviary
is the bottom line. In the meantime,
good luck with your self destructing cockatoo.
What? You say you don't have a self destructing
Don't worry... just give him time. Write me in
5 to 10 years.