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"That which does not kill us makes us pull our feathers
"I want a bird that is cuddly!"
( Oh God , Here we go again... )
Most people not familiar with large
parrots fail to see the "Big Picture"
Beautiful and Cuddly:
These are the words normally used to describe one of natures most unusual
parrots, the Moluccan Cockatoo. It's unusual in that it's one of
the few "lap birds , and acts more like
a dog than a bird sometimes. As babies, Moluccans
so easily touch your heart that it's hard to walk away from them without
taking one home. Their liquid eyes look like black pools of inquisitiveness
as they carefully study your facial expressions, and you seem to be able
to look right into their very souls. Both Moluccans and Umbrella
cockatoos possess a sweetness that few parrots can match, for awhile.
As all good things must come to an end however, so goes the sweetness as
these babies mature. This
is not to say that there will be a complete change,
but the odds are great that the 'Too you'll wind up
with years later is not the sweetness and light you
brought home. Do all birds change? No. Will most change to
some degree? You'd better believe it! And it's these
changes that sometimes drives owners to rescues.
One of the most mentally and emotionally complicated
parrots to deal with, the Moluccan is more than
a handful for all but the most dedicated parrot lover.
Few people can provide for the many needs of these
special birds. Proof of this is the fact that most
parrot rescues are full of Molluccan and Umbrella
cockatoos, and the newspaper classifieds across the nation are full
of "for sale" ads for these birds.
The strangest circumstances can cause these parrots
to become self mutilators or complete terrors to
their owners. Lack of interaction, wrong foods,
bad placement, improper cages and many other factors can contribute
to a "problem" cockatoo.
Volumes have been printed in many languages attempting
to resolve these "problems", and many are helpful. But
a lot of psychobabble has been printed also. So as we continue to read
and study everything we can get our hands on, many Moluccans and Umbrellas
(along with some other 'Too species) continue to self destruct. "Nature"
however, doesn't read books.
The bottom line is that there is much more than meets
the eye when considering a parrot such as these. Many pet stores
and breeders only want to sell birds, and if forced to tell the truth,
wouldn't be able to
sell nearly as many as they do now.
As the popularity of these 'Toos increase, the truth
is much harder to find. This is why I recommend talking to long term
cockatoo owners. (A short term owner hasn't had the time to see the end
Find as many owners as possible and do your research
from places that have no vested interest in the selling of parrots or parrot
products. Also talk to the many parrot rescues. They will normally
the real low-down on this species and you may possibly
want to adopt instead of purchase. Do the research you'll really
need in making your decision to purchase one of these wonderful but taxing
Like a childless couple that
THINK they know what having children would be like, (but don't really
have a clue until they've arrived), many parrot owners find out the
hard way also. Oh sure..... they're wonderful and smart
and entertaining. But depending on the species, a parrot can take
up more time, cause more aggravation, and completely drive you nuts in
a matter of weeks! That's why there are so many parrot
rescues out there. Is it the birds
fault? Absolutely not! It's the owners fault for buying
something that he or she hasn't researched thoroughly.
(and both WILL suffer the consequences )
Right up front.. I don't think large cockatoos should
be kept for 90 years in a cage. These majestic creatures deserve
to be free as God intended. Now, that not withstanding, I
know its just not gonna happen. Also note that I do not accept
advertising. Most Dot Com Parrot sites are paid for by parrot
products companies. This means that the site must be pro parrot,
but more importantly "pro ownership" which in turn means that you
don't always get the entire picture about parrots and parrot ownership.
They cant afford to tell all the negative aspects because they'd lose their
advertisers. Heck, I'M pro parrot, but I'm NOT pro ownership for
every Tom , Dick and Mary that has a few bucks, or who are just bored
and are looking for something to do for a couple of hours a day.
There are a few good "sponsored" websites out there, but you new people
don't have a clue as to which is really telling you the truth. That's
why I built this site. Start here and use the info I provide
to help you weed out the
bad breeders - pet stores - web sites - and the many
other aspects of the cockatoo business. (You're going to need all
the help you can get. ) So with that in mind.......
HERE WE GO!
You and your wife (or if you're single)
work everyday, but you'd like a nice bird. One that will sit on
your hand, and maybe even talk. You then are
looking at something like a Cockatiel. They don't
mind too much that you're gone all day, and don't need a great deal
of attention. But lets
say you've walked into a pet store (bad idea to start
with) and see a beautiful Moluccan Cockatoo as pictured above:
First .. you pay a very high price,
($2,000 And up) and a few months later find that the bird has plucked out
all of his feathers! He's no longer beautiful! And
worse yet, your new pet is screaming
the loudest screams that you've ever heard in your
life! Your neighbors are now complaining! And YOU wonder what went
wrong. *Note: There is a difference in a cockatoo that is screaming
and a cockatoo
that is "Displaying" A "displaying"
cockatoo is a HAPPY cockatoo and that's what you want! They usually
do this twice a day for about 5 minutes or so. Yes...its usually
just as loud as a screaming cockatoo. Be aware however that
baby cockatoos are QUIET, and CUDDLY. They will not make a lot
of noise for about a year or more. And
any breeder or pet store that would sell you a baby cockatoo (Umbrella
or Moluccan) under 6 to 7 months of age is a place to be avoided at all
cost! These are bird mills, and they cause more damage to these
creatures in the long run than anything I can think of.
In the case of a large Cockatoo, if you
consider them as children then you START to get the big picture.
You wouldn't lock a child in a cage and go to work, and so neither
do you leave large
Cockatoos alone every day. I recommend
that someone be home most of the time before you even consider owning
a Cockatoo. They are the most emotional of all the species.
In return for the "cuddles" that you were after, you will be required
to return the favor by spending LOTS of time with them. "Most of the time"
however doesn't mean 8 hours a day. At the same time, 8 hours a day
away from the house while working is much too long. Don't even try
it. (Do you really have time for this?)
Now, why are they like children?
Because we don't allow them to be birds! We don't provide the large
outdoor aviaries that they really need. We
don't keep the environment that allows them to not bond with us SO tight
that they go crazy when we're gone. These birds attach
themselves so rapidly to humans, that they have earned the name "Velcro
Birds". Why? Because
when all they have is that super intelligent brain and YOU... cooped up
in that house with YOU... languishing in that cage with
just YOU to look at...
Then its YOU who must provide all of the birds entertainment and interaction
needs. This is why MOST people should never own one.
Because if you cant provide the above, you are making a child monster,
and that child is gonna be 2 years old for 90 years. How old are
THINGS THEY DON'T TELL YOU.....
Lets talk about upkeep and quirks:
Of course they must have LOTS of EXPENSIVE TOYS (unless you make your own
as I usually do) to keep them busy! They must also have a very large
cage. That will set you back around $800.00 or more. (A cheaper
cage is useless!) Note again: A LARGE cockatoo really needs
an aviary, not just a cage, and NEVER ever attempt to stuff a large 'Too
in a small cage!
Then there's the cockatoo
dust, lots of it! Do you or anyone in your family have
allergies? Wrong bird!
And preening.....'Toos have very long feathers on their
heads that they cant reach. If you only have
one 'Too, plan on preening his head every few days.
This does two things: It helps his irritation and it's the BEST bonding
practice between you and your bird. Nothing beats it.
Then there's your CHILDREN.... Cockatoos normally
don't like small children. I have seen otherwise "normal" cockatoos
attack small children for no reason. Is it because the children
are fast or flighty? Is it their voice or mannerisms? I don't know
the answer to this. All I know is that even if your cockatoo (or any parrot)
is nice to your kids, NEVER EVER allow them near your kids faces
without complete supervision, and even then you are taking
a chance. Plastic surgery is not something you want to put
your child through ! Its your call.
HOW ABOUT FOOD? No No!..Not
COOK FOR THEM! That's right! Green beans and corn and carrots
and (insert any
vegetable here) and brown beans and rice and the list
goes on and on. Then there's the avian pellets
or chows, fruits and nuts and so forth. Get the picture?
Sure you want to do this?
But as I said earlier, most important is the
TIME that you must spend with them! You have to take
them out every day (several times a day usually) and
PLAY with them! Just like a child! Please keep in mind that I'm talking
about large Cockatoos here. Other Parrots are quite different.
Do the research
on several types and ask people who OWN them,
not sell them....
Special Note To The Ladies:
What happens if you get
pregnant? More cockatoos are shoved out of otherwise loving homes
due to pregnancy than anything else (except for divorce) due
to the fact that the woman now has a new interest that she must focus on,
and doesn't need: The demands of 2 babies at once.... The noise
a cockatoo can make to scare the newborn.... Or
the possible danger of a large jealous bird in the same house with a baby
...... Think about these things just in case you DO get pregnant.In
divorce cases, many previous stay-at-home moms must enter the work force,
and many move from a house to an apartment. This is a double whammy
and the bird must go. These are examples of things you have little control
over. So all I'm asking you to do is consider these possibilities
down the road, and try to think about what
YOU would do IF... (Try to have a "Plan B" in place at all times.)
NOW....ASK YOURSELF THESE QUESTIONS
1. Owning a bird can cost money. Food, toys,
and vets can soon add up.
Do you HAVE an avian vet in your area?
2. Many birds go through a period of adjustment. They
may bite, or just
avoid you altogether. Do you have the patience
to deal with this without getting discouraged? It can
take a long time if the birds been abused.
3. A parrot can live from 10 to 90 years. It can be
a LIFETIME pet. Are you ready for this? And what
will happen to the bird when you die? Think about
4. When you go away on vacation, who will care for
the bird? Many people are afraid of large parrots. What if the bird
gets out of its cage? Can they handle that?
5. Do you have the TIME to devote to the bird? Will
you be able to play with it everyday, and maybe
let it safely fly? Will the bird have
more room than just its cage?
(Be aware however, "T" stands and 'Toos don't
mix, as they are MUCH
too active to sit on a stand. As soon as you leave
the room, they are OUTTA THERE!)
6. Do you have room for a LARGE cage? And what about
here and there? Mind a little damage now and
then to things in your home?
It WILL happen, trust me! (Maybe even LOTS of
7. Is anyone in your family allergic to feathers and
in the case of Cockatoos, lots of dust? (How do you think they stay
8. Do you have other pets in the house? Will
they get along with your bird and vice versa? Cats can kill a bird
just with its saliva. Are you willing to risk that?
9. Parrots are normally very shy of small children
and I don't recommend giving large parrots to children period! But
if you DO give a child a pet bird, are YOU willing to take responsibility
if the child gets BIT or gets tired of the bird? Its YOUR fault
if that happens.
10. Forget everything you know about pets when it comes
to birds. Many birds are just as EMOTIONAL as humans. Can you deal with
this? Can you deal with your husband/ wife/kids? If not, better steer clear
of parrots! (See my behavior Page)
*Some bird owners will look at this
page as being overly negative...
"Before I got my cockatoo I did a lot of research on them. Then
I found this site & thought God
can't these people say anything nice about these birds... it's
so negative. Boy was I wrong!
Having a cockatoo really makes you think twice & really want
to read everything. Now I've
learned to deal with whatever my U2 & M2 throws at me."
( New member to our message board)
*I'm trying not to be.... But people call and
e-mail me every week with the same story: "I had NO
idea of what I was getting into!". They tell me that
their birds are constantly screaming.....or
plucking out their feathers...or WORSE... (like nipping
their skin till they bleed to death.) Now,
here is a question I received by e-mail recently:
"Why is there such a difference between Moluccan Cockatoos (or cockatoos
in general) and Macaws or other parrots? Aren't they wild animals as
well?"....... My answer: Well....
that's like saying all birds are birds. Actually, nothing could be further
from the truth. The difference between lets say...a common Finch
and a parrot, is about the same difference as the difference between
a worm and a dog. The difference between the "average" parrot
and a large cockatoo is about the same as the difference
between a dog and a 3 year old human. In other words, there's usually
a big difference. Cockatoo owners will attest to this fact.
the folks to turn the volume up to full for true cockatoo experience!!!
I got in (yet another) mutilating moluccan yesterday and checked messages
to find still
another one that someone wants
me to take in. Pluckers, screamers, biters,
mutilators, mate killers...
glad to see someone tell it like it really is! Years ago I got more
unwanted conures than anything else, today, cockatoos top the list.
Dee Parrot Rescue, Md.
Please people...It breaks my heart to see the end results
of what can happen when a person doesn't have
a clue. And I know that after all of this, It
may be hard to convince you that Parrots are the most wonderful animals
on earth. But they ARE or CAN be....Its all up to you.
Dont wind-up being one of these poor people who send
me letters like this:
"I wish I had seen you site 5 1/2 years ago before getting our Moluccan.
These are BEAUTIFULL birds and LOVE SPONGES as you all refer to.
BUT they are like Jeckel/Hyde. I am extremely upset. I had to give
up my M2 last week to a rescue place after being bit 3 times on the face.
One which sent me to the E.R. I have been bitten countless times
on the hands also on the toes and back. He also struck at the corner
of my eye twice [ thank God I had my glasses on or I would be missing an
eye] I have been chased and chased around the house.Now, it's not like
the bird hates me. He actually thinks I am his mate. I'd hate
to be someone he hated! And when it's " that time of the month" for me
I had to keep him caged. These birds have a strong big beak and can/will
slice through human skin[or lips] like a knife to melty butter. I love
him but for my own safety gave him up. Did I mention the plucking and screaming?
I could tolerate that but not the attacks. Also I have been hoarse
ever since I got him and can hardly breath out my nose. I know when you
see one you just adore them but people need to read this site before getting
Only 10% of the parrot owners out there are actually
capable of providing all the needs of a large bird. And I hope
you're one. Many think they are, and
many try. But you really have to have lots of time,
lots of patience, and plenty of love.
But if you're the 'average" buyer, you too will be running
ads like these and helping to destroy any future confidence your
bird may have had. On the other hand, hopefully your bird
will be better off without you in their lives. Please consider
carefully what you are about to do. Save both you and the
bird heartache. Want to see the face of abuse AND contentment?
I have written articles
and lectured about the pitfalls of parrot ownership for the last 10 years,
always reserving the strongest language for large cockatoos. Nothing I
have ever written or said comes close to being as effective and honest
as your site. Congratulations and keep up the good work.
HERE'S HOW BAD IT'S GETTING!
I received this note from Marc at "fosterparrots.com"
(A 503-C NON-PROFIT AVIAN RESCUE ORGANIZATION)
"You won't believe the number of people looking to get rid of their cockatoos RIGHT NOW! I have
NO homes or space available. We are heading for a crisis and I fear the worst is about to happen...."
Mytoos.com Article Library Index
Click on any of the following to access articles in our extensive online library:
working with parrots for 30 years, I consider the Moluccan to be the
difficult of all the parrot species to successfully keep as a companion."
Cockatoos..... Gotta Love Em!
(And that's NO joke)
been rescuing unwanted birds for the last few years and yes, you are right
in your observation of the number ratio between toos and other species
on my site .
I get in triple the amount of toos
compared to other birds. It's heartbreaking.
My latest is a 1 year old who is
already picking her feathers.
Birdyville Parrot Rescue
Your site is fantastic. I like
you do not recommend large
parrots as pets. I will be sending
a lot of people to your site.
Thanks. Every day I also
deal with the problems of behavior in
these big birds.
Greg J. Harrison, DVM
Diplomat American Board of Veterinary Practitioners
Diplomat European College of
Avian Medicine and Surgery
Specialist in Avian Medicine
The Bird Hospital, PA
HBD Intl. Inc.
Harrison's Organic Bird Foods
e mail email@example.com
6147 Lake Worth RoadGreen Acres,
Hi, I have four cockatoos and loved your site.
I had a pet store for several years and there definitely was a reason I
never sold a cockatoo, & actually got into arguments with customers.
People don't realize how much you need to know before you should
even consider owning one of these beautiful creatures. They are very
time consuming and need so much more than a typical parrot. .... Maureen
Your webpage says everything I wish all of
those D$%#% breeders and pet shops would tell people before buying a cockatoo/parrot
as a pet -- but unfortunately, as you know, Money Rules. If
shops and breeders were honest, at least 1/2 of their customers would walk
I have 5 Toos (3 rescues/unwanted) and can
tell you they're NOT a PET - they're 2-year olds that
never mature and never move out!!!
I know when I bought my first too, the pet shop never asked if I had an
appropriately sized cage; informed me about toxins like Teflon & chocolate;
told me about proper diet & care; or how much attention and toys they
needed. I had to hunt for information myself only because I cared
to be the best parent possible. Anyway, thanks for taking the time to inform
*My husband stumbled upon
your website this evening
and all we can say to you is
We are those ignorant people
you are talking about!
We have a "deposit" on a newly hatched umbrella
and have decided to forego our deposit if necessary and NOT take on the
ownership of a cockatoo. When we decided to add another bird
to our home (we have a cockatiel and quaker) We looked at many different
species. At first, we dismissed the idea of a cockatoo because of
the noise and the dust but were swayed at some point in our search.
We kept reading "good" information and hearing "good" stories from owners.
The addage, "misery loves company" is coming to mind at this time!
We have a large cage purchased and set up in our home but have decided
to put it aside right now and do further research on other birds that may
make nice companions. It is so true that there is not much readily
available "negative" information about these beautiful creatures, but your
site really opened our eyes and gave us an education! It is quite obvious
to us that a cockatoo is truly a wild animal that is best observed in its
native surroundings and not in a cage. We cannot understand that
people don't realize that all of their obnoxious behaviors are linked to
one thing . . . captivity! Again, thank you for educating us!.......Sincerely,
& Michelle K.
stumbled on your site last night while surfing the thousands of sites that
are laden with eye-rolling, anthropomorphic dribble about avian behavior.
WOW!! I laughed until I cried, then I cried until I fell asleep. You are
the FIRST ONE I have run into in the 30-some years that I have been preaching
exactly the same thing to HAVE A CLUE! Thanks for the wonderful opportunity
to see that I am not alone in the world! ..... Michael Doolen,
Just last year I purchased a large aviary
so my parrots ( two of which are large cockatoos ) could
spend more time outside. It was
expensive ( and I'm not rich ), but it is hands down, the singular
best investment I have ever made. I
have seen DRAMATIC improvement in my birds' behavior, attitude, plumage,
muscle tone, and general well-being. I was hesitant at first
to leave them out all day, but now I lament having to take them in
at all. They were meant to be outside. That's the way God made
them. If you really want to see your parrots shine, get them
outside as much as possible.
Jerry already proposed the solution that has
worked best for me: bring them outside after sun up and take them back
inside before sundown. They are pretty quiet during the day, and
if I'm careful to bring them (the cockatoos) in before sundown, my
neighbors (some of them very nearby) don't mind at all.
Our macaw and conure can stay out even later since they are not inclined
to "crow" like the cockatoos. --Anna
I sent you an email a few months back about
my Moluccan male cockatoo, JoJo. If you recall, JoJo had taken
a bite out of my nose, requiring 5 stitches. You were
kind enough to talk to me on the telephone and provide me with meaningful
information and offer practical suggestions. I have, since our telephone
call, followed your advise and suggestions. If I may, I would
like to share a very exciting event that occurred today for the first
time since I came to own JoJo almost four years ago.
I FINALLY picked him up with my hands!
I thought, if he bites, he bites...it can't be worse than the bite
he had already taken out of my nose. And so, without hesitation,
I placed my hands under his belly at his feet and firmly said, "Come on,
JoJo...Step up." And guess what? He did with little fussing.
I then walked him over to his cage and placed him on his perch inside.
I was so thrilled! What a pay off!
Thank you Jerry, so very much for all
your help. I know I still have a ways to go because I still have
a lot to learn. But so far, things are looking brighter for JoJo
and I. Having Rubi (a green-wing macaw) around him while I
am at work also seems to have significantly helped out and improved his
mood---not to mention assist in getting him to change his diet from
mostly seeds to pellets, veggies and fruits (and still occasional raw beef).
Both of my birds LOVE your recipe! By the way, the two of them are
now friendlier with one another. I also bought a new playgym and immediately
placed both of them on it on opposite ends and stepped back.
After some fussing from both, the two of them finally "worked things out."
Today, Rubi rubs the top of JoJo's head, his face, and his beak with her
beak and JoJo, well the ham that he is, he just loves it. Thank
you...Thank you, Jerry, for your
honest, direct, and meaningful help.................A
Lady Lawyer In Chicago)
* See printable version of this page HERE