Saturday, April 12, 2014

Popular Cockatoos That Are Kept as Pets

When I think of a Cockatoo, an image of a large white parrot with yellow feathers popping out of his head comes into my mind. This is one type of Cockatoo, but did you know that the list of Cockatoo species is actually pretty extensive? All together, there are over 40 different species of in the Cockatoo family.

Photo via B Campbell

I had an idea for this post, mostly because I love Cockatoos. They are one of my favorite types of birds. I've never kept a Cockatoo as a pet before, but have worked with many different types at the veterinary hospital. Compared to other pet birds, they are very sweet and loving. Especially with their owners. The bond between a Cockatoo and his person is usually very strong.


So strong, it can sometimes cause problems. Cockatoos are susceptible to a condition known as "feather plucking". This is when a bird plucks their own feather out. Why do they do it? It could be due to any number of reasons, either health or behavior related depending on the individual bird. It's usually not easy to cure either.

One time, a man brought his Cockatoo into our veterinary office for feather plucking. You could just see how much this Cockatoo loved her man. While we had to rule out medical reasons for the feather plucking, the veterinarian believed that the reason behind her condition was because she loved her man so much and wanted to be his mate. Of course, this was impossible since she was a bird and he was a human. I felt bad for her. It's amazing what these animals are capable of. I truly believe they have the capacity for emotion.

Many Cockatoos will begin feather plucking if they become bored and aren't given enough social time with their owners. That's why people who want to keep a Cockatoo as a pet really need to be prepared to spend a lot of time with them for many years to come. Some Cockatoos can live to be between 40-60 years old.

Now on to the list of popular Cockatoos species that are kept as pets.

Sulphur-crested Cockatoo

This was the Cockatoo I described above. They are fairly large birds with a very curious demeanor. There are several variations of the Sulphur-crested also. I love the way their voice sounds.

In 2009, scientists found that Sulpher-crested Cockatoos are able to synchronize their movements to a musical beat. Take Snowball, for example. Scientists have documented 17 different dance moves in his routine. 



We don't know many bird bloggers, but there is one Sulphur-crested Cockatoo whom we really admire. His name is Leo from the blog Cascadian Nomads. 

Galah Cockatoo

This species is also known as the Rose-breasted Cockatoo. I unfortunately have never met one in person before. They also have the ability to learn to speak very well and have a fun personality. As with most Cockatoos, the Galah likes to chew and destroy so toys are a must! They have some exceptionally gorgeous pink feathers. 

Photo via GrrlScientist

Goffin's Cockatoo

These Cockatoos are a little more compact than other Cockatoo species, but they are also super affectionate! I'd love to have a Goffin's Cockatoo one day, but I definitely don't have the time to commit to one right now. They are said to be a little less demanding and noisy than other species of Cockatoos. 

Photo via Eric Bryan

Umbrella Cockatoo

These birds look very similar to Sulphur-crested Cockatoos, but do not have the yellow crests on their heads. Instead, their crest is all white. These birds are very intelligent and social, but also very noisy and require a lot of attention and social interaction. They can also be destructive. They can live to be over 40 years old in captivity. 

Photo via Juan Tello 


Moluccan Cockatoo

These Cockatoos are also called Salmon-crested Cockatoos and are very large. Because they are endangered in the wild, it is illegal for wild-captured birds to be sold. Unfortunately, I did meet a rescue Moluccan once who was wild-caught. She was about 30 years old and had some real issues with stress and feather plucking. Let's just say that this girl had a very loud screech on her! 

I also have been bitten by a Moluccan Cockatoo before, also with feather plucking issues. This guy was nice to me sometimes, but other times he didn't trust me. Which is understandable. I wouldn't trust the vet tech either. He got me pretty good on my thumb while I was trying to catch him in a towel for an exam one day.  

Photo by Sham Edmond

There are so many other types of Cockatoos out there, and this list really only touches the surface. These are just some of the more popular ones that I've seen before. Which one is your favorite?

29 comments:

  1. Leo will be so happy for the extra love from you, his super-fan, Ann! I fell in love with a triton (the branch of sulphur-crested that Leo is- tritons are unique for their blue eye rings) named Lola at a local pet store. I scrimped and saved but she was sold before I had enough for her. So Leo it was! At the time I imagined a house full of parrots and my next one would be a Major Mitchell's Cockatoo- they are SO gorgeous!!! But the parrot shop where Leo was weened had one and when that Major Mitchell's literally turned a wooden block to sawdust in the blink of an eye, I knew it was not the bird for me... Unless I someday inherited a lumber yard! And while it is true that cockatoos are known throughout the parrot world as the most cuddly and lovey birds, they are also the loudest. When Leo let's loose a REALLY big scream, it is the same decibels as the engine of a large airplane and anyone with in ear shot will have ringing ears for a day or two.

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    1. Yay! I asked on Twitter because I wanted to make extra sure lol... there are so many variations of birds out there and I definitely don't know them all. I'm going to look up the Major Mitchell's. I do want a parrot so badly, but I just don't feel that my home is parrot friendly right now so it will have to wait. Even then, it's going to be a small parrot.

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  2. oh wow, there's luna the galah, sitting on her other human! her other human is somewhat afraid of her cuz she's nibbly (but not chompy) -- but she does enjoy chewing the paint off the walls when we're not looking.

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    1. Hey - thanks for making your image of your sweet Luna available for use by others on Twitter!

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    2. Or Flickr*** I should say.

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  3. For us, birds go in the fish category. We love to see them and/or visit them, but they aren't the right pets for us. These are beautiful birds, though!

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  4. Like Emma, I don't want a bird for a pet but they are fun to say hello to at the pet store. (Growing up my aunt and uncle had a parrot with a bad case of feather plucking.) I have mixed feelings about these birds being pets; they love their owners because they are social animals. And having seen videos of them in flight I can't help feeling sad that they are indoors. So I'm glad you pointed out the Moluccan being endangered and illegal... having said that they are indeed beautiful, and maybe right for people like Bethany who can make the long-term commitment to their care.

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    1. Thank you Amy. Well cared for captive parrots should never be only indoors! Our climate isn't right for an outdoor aviary (though we know parrot owners who have well heated ones here!) but Leo gets out and about just as much as our dogs. He is learning to wear a flight harness so he can get more exercise but he does "fly" when we are outside (I run while holding him securely on my hand and he flaps his wings.) It's true that it is not the same as flying free and birds are captive wild animals (even if they are domestically raised) which is indeed not the right pet for everyone.

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    2. Also, ALL wild caught parrots have been illegal in the US for decades and in the EU since 2005! But, sadly, the black market still exists... Like most shoppig involving animals, buyer beware!

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    3. I know the feeling Amy, and can understand the mixed feelings. I have them sometimes too. I was reading that some of these species are considered "pests" in their natural habitats and are sometimes hunted and killed (with permits) because they destroy crops and things. Bethany is totally right though. They take a special and dedicated person to care for them.

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  5. Cockatoos really are beautiful birds!

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  6. I love cockatoos and parrots and it's my greatest wish to live with such a feathered friend. But I'm afraid our house is not the best place for a bird, so I better dream about having a parrot :o) Thanks for a great post about my favorite pets. Have a great saturday

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    1. Same here Easy. My house probably isn't the best place for a bird right now either. Maybe one day :)

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  7. What memories - when we lived in Germany we became parents to a genius African Grey Parrot. We named him Sam, and brought him back to the U.S. with us. Sam lived for about 10 years, and was loved by all. His passing broke my heart. I loved this post, it was like taking a walk down a very happy time in my life, thanks

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    1. Aw how sweet! Those African Greys are real characters!

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  8. The Molaccan is quite exotic looking. Leo is the only one we know too. They are such characters. Sadly we couldn't have one but we think those that do are very lucky. Have a super Saturday.
    Best wishes Molly

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  9. Oooo. I love those Goffin's and Moluccan Cockatoos. I've always wanted a bird, but our allergist didn't recommend it at all with mine and the boy's allergies. I wouldn't get one now at my age. It would most likely out-live me and I wouldn't want to put a bird into survivor-status. I've heard that some die from grief when they outlive their people.

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    1. Yea I feel you. =/ A lot of birds do get passed around when they outlive their people. I will believe that they could die from grief if they lose their humans.

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  10. they are a lot of hard work,xx Rachel

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  11. I had ho idea there were so many different kinds of cockatoos!! I have always loved these birds!!! I love how they do their little dances too!!!
    ღ husky hugz ღ frum our pack at Love is being owned by a husky!

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  12. Cool, I wouldn't mind having a cockatoo brother! I'm sure we would come up with all kinds of fun stuff together...

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    1. The two of you could probably make a lot of mischief Carlos ;)

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  13. They are very beautiful! My dad always loved birds, he even had one when he met the Lady! Love Dolly

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  14. Oh my! The Rose-breasted Cockatoo is stunning. I have never seen one before. Cockatoos are beautiful birds, to be sure, but the Rose-breasted, is gorgeous!

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  15. This is all very interesting but hello, they're birds! I'm a cat and they're birds,, see the problem?
    But great info!

    Noodle

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  16. They are all beautiful, but I especially liked the rose-breasted one. You shared a lot of very interesting information about them that I didn't know.

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  17. Beautiful! I think it would be cool to have a cockatoo, but I did know that they can live very long lives, so that's a huge commitment - especially when we are already at the age where we might outlive it! We recently watched Parrot Confidential and it broke my heart talking about how many birds are in rescues and need homes! People get them without realizing what a commitment they are. Thanks for helping spread the news that folks have to be committed to spending a lot of time with their bird!

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    1. Yep, you can definitely adopt birds! Sadly, I think that bird adoption is less popular because the birds can come with behavior issues. Ideally, most people want a bird that was hand-reared and is a baby. They are the nicest usually. Since I haven't owned many birds myself, I would not want to adopt one with behavioral issues.

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