Pet cockatoos are often called “velcro” birds because of their extremely sociable nature and borderline obsessive necessity to be around the people in their lives. Cockatoo pet refers to any one of the 21 bird species which belong to the family Cacatuidae. Accompanying two other families (Psittacoidea and Strigopoidea), they are also often known as ‘parrots’. They have principally an Australasian range but are common in aviaries and also as pets worldwide. A cockatoo is an affectionate but a demanding bird.
Looking to add a new avian member to your family? You might be musing about a cockatoo bird, as they are one of the most popular kinds of pet birds. While all birds have different personalities, there are several common threads that run through the history, habitat, attitude, temperament and care concerns of cockatoos. Let's check what you need to know before you bring a cockatoo home.
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What Exactly is a Cockatoo
1. A Cockatoo is a Parrot
Cockatoos are characterized by their prominent crests along with their curved bills. There are 21 species and 7 different genera within the family. In addition to cockatoos, members of the family – Cacatuidae, Psittacoidea and Strigopoidea are also called parrots. All parrots have a zygodactyl foot, implying that they have toes that face both forward and backward. This comprises a strong claw on it, enabling them to grasp onto tree branches and to feed upon. They all have relatively broad wings and short legs.
In nutshell, all Cockatoo species are parrots; however, not all parrots are cockatoos. All parrots, including cockatoo, have raspy and screeching vocalizations.
2. Cockatoo Mini-Me
Most cockatoo species are found to be medium-sized. However, the cockatiel is unquestionably a small bird. Amazingly, it appears to have diverged phylogenetically ahead of other cockatoo species. Cockatoo’s species are common in aviaries. However, their needs are usually rather difficult to meet. One of the simplest species to maintain is the cockatiel and indeed is the species widely kept as a pet or in aviaries.
Scientific and Physical Characteristics of Cockatoo
Origin and History of the Cockatoo
Are you a parrot enthusiast? Or want to become one? To satiate your aspiration, let’s dig deep into your subject of how the cockatoo parrots originated. Cockatoos have their origin from Australia, New Guinea, and the Indonesian Islands, depending on the species. Habitats range from woodlands, mangroves and open, green forest to coastal plains. Cockatoos are categorized in Appendix I of the CITES list. Appendix I listed species are endangered with extinction, and commercial trade is outlawed. In addition, import/export of cockatoos for the purpose of scientific research requires special permits.
There are about 21 species of cockatoos, each with their own behaviors and personality traits. Cockatoos are extremely social and in the wild will forage in groups as huge as 100 birds. The most common and infinite in number cockatoo species found in the wild is the 14-inch galah, which sports off its pink and gray wings throughout the skies of Australia. Pet owners are usually more acquainted, but, with the 20-inch long sulfur-crested cockatoo, with its crest of golden, narrow, forward-curving feathers on its head.
Depending on the kind of cockatoo, these birds are most commonly white and are originally native to eastern and northern Australia, Tasmania and New Guinea. Some species of cockatoo, such as the Moluccan, are salmon-colored, while the scarce black palm cockatoo is an intelligent black and red. Most varieties of cockatoos have long life spans of over 60 years for some of the larger species in the wild. Unfortunately, these parrot birds do not customarily live as long in captivity – generally only into their 30s and 40s – because they commonly do not get proper nutrition, fresh air, or exposure to sunlight.
Natural Habitat of Cockatoo Bird
There are 21 species of cockatoos which are in the family Cacatuidae. A large number of cockatoo species have native ranges in Australia, Australasia, Indonesia, New Guinea and the Solomon Islands.
Care & Feeding of Cockatoo Bird
A cockatoo pet needs a well-structured cage to not only prevent it from running away but to prevent the bird from destroying it. A pet cockatoo will require a stable supply of suitable items to chew and destroy. Cockatoos tend to be more demanding than other pet parrot species thus as an owner must set boundaries early on, else the bird might haul for attention. A cockatoo new to the home should not be freely given a non-stop attention, rather provided with toys and other refinement opportunities as well as intermittent attention in a way that the bird learns to keep itself entertained when people in its life are unable to offer one-on-one time.
Types of Australian Cockatoo
Australia is home to 14 of the 21 species of cockatoo (true characters of the trees) birds recognized globally. There are eight found in South Australia. Though their plumage is usually less colorful compared to other parrots, they are bigger and stockier. All cockatoos have remarkable crests and curved bills. Here’s a list of Australian cockatoo varieties in Australia and where to spot them:
Australia's most famous cockatoo is the region’s beauty easily identifiable by their signature yellow crest and wings, and also their loud and harsh grating call.
Also recognized by some as the rose-breasted cockatoo, these parrots are most commonly spotted in large groups of between 30 and 1,000 birds.
Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo
This big cockatoo parrot has primarily black plumage edged with yellow. Their ancient food consumption was of banksia and hakea native plants, but now they eat exotic pines. So you’ll often observe them in pine trees.
Red-tailed Black Cockatoo
This marvelous cocky consists of 5 subspecies found around Australia, in eight discrete populations. This cockatoo relies on large hollow bearing trees for nests and, interestingly, they enter the hollows tail first. These cockatoos feed wholly on stringybark. You can see black cockatoo in the north of South Australia towards Alice Springs, as well as around Penola and Naracoorte.
SA’s endangered glossy black-cockatoo was once extensive throughout the south-eastern part of Australia, but can now only be seen in two sections of the country – from eastern-Queensland to Mallacoota in Victoria, as well as the secluded population on Kangaroo Island. At present, Kangaroo Island has a slow-growing population of about 370 glossies.
Smallest birds in the cockatoo family, cockatiels feed in flocks that forage immediately after sunrise and again before sunset, and often can be seen with budgerigars.
Often seen in the Mount Lofty Ranges and you can find them in a range of areas across the state, other than south-east and Kangaroo Island.
SA is a home to two species of corella. I.e. long-billed corella and the little corella.
Major Mitchell Cockatoo
Named after Major Sir Thomas Mitchell, surveyor of south-east Australia during the 1800s, this is a pink cockatoo which look like a nice mix of galah and sulphur-crest, but are certainly their own species of cockatoo. They shelter in huge native pines in the Mallee and can be found often in South Australia north of the River Murray in Bookmark Creek and Gluepot Reserve.
Get a Cockatoo - From Where Can I Get a Cockatoo
Cockatoos are generally available at avian-specialty stores, bird breeders and also from adoption from bird rescue organizations. Cockatoo pets are often given up for adoption because of their behavior issues, which makes this a bird that needs to be carefully considered. Ideally, a first-time as a cockatoo owner should work with an experienced cockatoo breeder and/or avian psychonomics early on to set a cockatoo up for victory as a companion pet.
Behavioral Issues in Cockatoos
Each cockatoo brings along its own personality, and they are just cuddle-able. Excited and ready to play with a cockatoo. Before that let’s check out their behavioral aspect.
While some cockatoos can be affectionate, huggable, particularly as babies, others can be very aggressive and inclined to biting once they become sexually mature after about five to seven years of age.
Cockatoos are however known for their ability to gel well with their people, and while this trait may be fantastic in a pet, it often results in the development of anxiety in these birds.
It is quite difficult to meet the husbandry and social needs of most cockatoos. Usually, cockatoos do not make good pets for a new bird owner due to their constant need for attention, necessity for great amounts of time outside of their cages and inclination to creek and scream.
A common telltale of cockatoos plucking their feathers—often completely off, down to bare skin and even mutilating the skin, biting and screaming becomes a complicated subject for breeders. And there are no definitive measures for prevention and treatment.
While some cockatoos can build an abnormally close bond with their owners, seeing them as their mates, which can result in the feeling of separation, territorial aggression and sexual frustration evinced by such behavioral issues.
FAQs on Cockatoo
Q1. How Do Cockatoos Stand Out from Other Parrot Species?
Answer: Cockatoos are distinguishable from other parrot species in terms of their dramatic dusty feathers, crest feathers, and diversified shades of white, black, gray and pink. Most Australian cockatoo varieties are medium-sized birds, with defining crests and plumage. They are essentially black, white, or grey along with a partnering colored feature.
Cockatoo pets are most commonly referred to as “velcro” birds mainly due to their sociable nature and borderline obsessive need to be around the beings in their lives. Cockatoos vary in size from medium to large.This may be in the free space of a colorful crest, such with respect to Sulphur-crested cockatoo (Cacatua galerita), or in cheeks or tail feathers. They range in size from about 12-24inches in length and weigh between 0.66-2.65 lb (300-1200 grams).
The Umbrella cockatoo possesses a distinguishing white crest which rises like an umbrella, that differentiates it from the other white cockatoos.
Q2. What Cockatoo Birds Love to Eat?
Answer: Cockatoos are fond of Nutri-Berries. They also eat a lot of Lafeber food, Avi-Cakes and Tropical Fruit Nutri-Berries. However, cockatoos required a diversified diet, including fruits, greens, and vegetables with around two thirds of an essential diet coming from nutritionally-balanced, concentrated pellets. An exclusive, seed-only diet is not suggested for a cockatoo parrot, as seed is deficient in almost all vital nutrients. Seeds must make up for no more than 10% of a cockatoo’s diet, with a greater focus on fresh fruits, vegetables and cooked grains and legumes.
Food for cockatoos must not only be nutritious, but also should include a foraging element. Cockatoos are fun-loving, energetic, vibrant, and brilliant birds and their food should exhibit those traits. Wild cockatoos forage all day for nuts and seeds, and also the coconuts and grain crops. In a similar vein as other companion parrots, cockatoos do not thrive alone on birdseed. Cockatoo food should strictly not be boring to eat, either, and will love to eat foods like Pellet-Berries, Nutri-Berries, Avi-Cakes and Lafeber’s Premium Daily Diet Pellets.
Q3. What is Called a True Parrots’?
Answer: From the family – Cacatuidae is Psittacidae also recognized as ‘true parrots’, occurs over a much higher range than cockatoos. We also have Strigopoidea from the same family, often known as the Kakapo that does not overlap with cockatoos in its range. Moreover to their unique crests, cockatoos are essentially white, black or grey and thus less colorful than many other parrot species with their multicolor plumage. Cockatoo species are not known to ‘speak’ or mimic in a manner that ‘true parrots’ do, but they do possess a complex variety of calls that they use to communicate with each other.