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"That which does not kill us makes us pull our feathers out......."

If you don't want to read all this stuff, here's the 3 minute version !

"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 result).  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 give you  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 creatures..     


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.......    


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 YOU now?    


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 seeds!

YOU 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 that  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.)    


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 it!

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 the droppings  here and there?  Mind a little damage now and then to things in your home? It WILL happen, trust me!  (Maybe even LOTS of damage.)

7. Is anyone in your family allergic to feathers and in the case of Cockatoos, lots of dust?  (How do you think they stay so white?)

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.  

Tell 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.    

In Closing: 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 one." Nicole 


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?   Click HERE.

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.

Layne Dicker

I received this note from Marc at "" (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...." Article Library Index

Click on any of the following to access articles in our extensive online library:

Torture Page: Are People Really This Cruel?
Rescue of the Month: Doesn't ANYBODY Care?
Letters..I Get Letters: See what people write me!
Do NOT buy a Cockatoo till you read this!
A Short Story: Special Letter That You Must Read!
Letters Of The Year: The Best Letters Of The Year
A Sad Story Of Abuse: My Special Place For "Joey"
A Rehabilitation in Progress: As shared by Janet Howell (EchosMom)
Announcements Page: Special Announcements!
Cockatoo dust: Are Cockatoos Really Dusty?
How Noisy Are They??: Are Cockatoos Really Noisy?
Cuddles: Are cockatoos always cuddly?
Two Owners' Viewpoints: Are These Birds Just Nuts or what???
My Bird Is Self Destructing!!: Pluckers, Biters & Mutilators.. why?
Behavior Page: More Cockatoo problems?
A Real Telephone Call: What Most Pet Shops Will Tell You
You May Not Like This: My Opinion On Cockatoo Ownership
Should you sue?: Lawsuits.... The time has arrived.
Vet's Letter: Letter From An Avian Vet To
References: You Need Other References?
The Miscellaneous Page: Here's where I placed all the other stuff!
Food Page: Dont know what to feed your bird?
Blood Feather: What is a Bloodfeather? Is it dangerous?
Toys: Can I make Toys And Save?
No Guts,  No Glory!: I'm A Toy Commando!
Plants & Trees: Dangerous & Safe Plants
Message Board: Message Board....Have a question?
Rescue Organizations: List or Rescue Organizations
Avian Rescue Network: Do You REALLY Want To Help?
After You Read Mytoos..Go HERE: Links To Many Other Good Articles!
"The Parrots Prayer": The Parrots Prayer & Bill of Rights
Welcome to the Quagmire: Books, Links and Other Information
Facts from Greg Glendell: Please Read This Article!!
What you need to know!: Avian Vets...What Are They Really?
Avian Vets: Find an Avian vet in your area.

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"After working with parrots for 30 years, I consider the Moluccan to be the  most difficult of all the parrot species to successfully keep as a companion."

Liz Wilson    

Cockatoos..... Gotta Love Em! (And that's NO joke)


I have 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.

Pamela Brown
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
fax 1-561-433-3521
e mail
6147 Lake Worth RoadGreen Acres, FL 33463

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 away.

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 the uniformed! Cari

*My husband stumbled upon your website this evening and all we can say to you is THANK YOU!

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, Mark & Michelle K.  

I 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, DVM

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

Dear Jerry:  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 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)

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