A cockatoo is any of the 21 bird species belonging to the family Cacatuidae. Along with the Psittacidae family (the true parrots), they make up the order Psittaciformes.
Expected Life Span: With proper care, cockatoos can be expected to live from about 40 years (smaller species) to 80 years or more (larger species).
Cockatoos are very lively and affectionate birds. They are quite “cuddly” and bond very closely with their owners. However, their sociability and need for affection means they demand a great deal of time from their owners. Deprived of affection, cockatoos will become depressed or exhibit neurotic behaviors. They are intelligent, playful, mischevious, and they can be exceptionally loud. They are somewhat excitable so sometimes don’t do that well around young kids.
Cockatoos aren’t as well known as some of the other parrots for their ability to mimic speech, but in general they do have pretty good speech capabilities. There is a lot of variation between individuals as well as likely some species variation.
Smaller cockatoos should have a cage no smaller than 24″x36″x48″ with a bar spacing of 3/4″ to 1″ while the larger cockatoos need a very large cage: about 24″x48″x48″ with a bar spacing of 1″ to 1.5.” The larger the cage the better. A strong cage (wrought iron, stainless steel) is necessary to withstand the cockatoo’s tough beak. Horizontal bar wires will allow the cockatoo to exercise by climbing on the sides of the cage.
Cockatoos love to chew and destroy things, so providing chewable toys is a necessity. Softwood toys, tree branches, vegetable tanned leather, rope toys (supervise use), bells and cardboard can all be given. Provide both hanging toys and toys that can be picked up in the feet. Toys with hanging strands simulate preening and are popular with cockatoos. All toys must be safe, and hung safely.
Cockatoos need a variety of fresh foods along with a good quality avian pellet based diet. Pellets can be up to 50% of the diet and fresh foods (vegetables, fruits, grains, etc) you prepare should make up the rest. Seeds and seed mixes should only be used as a limited treat item since they are high in fat. Nuts can also be used as a special treat. Links to help with feeding a proper diet:
Cockatoos and Feather Dust: special feathers (powder down) produce a fine powder used in preening. This powder makes a fine dust that settles throughout the homes of cockatoo owners and can cause allergies.
Mess and Destruction: cockatoos tend to like to play with (toss) their food and chew on everything. Factor this in with the feather dust mentioned above, cockatoo owners need to be prepared for a bit of a mess.
Feather Picking and Self Mutilation: cockatoos seem somewhat prone to neurotic behavior including feather picking and self-mutilation, especially if denied the affection and attention they need so strongly.
Major Mitchell Cockatoo
The Major Mitchell’s Cockatoo, Lophocroa leadbeateri also known as Leadbeater’s Cockatoo or Pink Cockatoo is a medium-sized cockatoo restricted to arid and semi-arid inland areas of Australia.
Length about 35 cm (14″), weight about 350-400 grams. The Major Mitchell sexes are very similar, but can be sexed in a mature bird by the eye colour. A hen has a reddish brown iris while a cock has a dark brown to blackish iris, a distinction which develops towards the end of the first year. Immature Majors are similar to the adult except that the iris is pale brown.
These birds are inquisitive and love to chew objects, so they should always be provided with toys, blocks of wood or branches.
**For all their beauty, these birds don’t make the best pets because they tend to be aloof – and they often bite. They are also noisy; they rarely speak, but they are loud screamers. If you have your heart set on one, though, choose a female; she’ll be more docile, although not as common in the market as males.
Don’t permit them unsupervised run of the house. They can be very destructive if allowed to perch on furniture.
The Goffin’s Cockatoo, Cacatua goffiniana also known as Tanimbar Cockatoo is a species of cockatoo native and endemic to forests of Banda Sea islands in Indonesia. Size: 23-30 cm (9-12 inches), 300-400 grams The Goffin’s Cockatoos are the smallest of all Cacatuinae. At first sight it appears to be a white cockatoo with some salmon or pink face feathers, and a pale grey beak. Both sexes are similar. The Goffin’s Cockatoo can be a charming, playful and affectionate companion. It is the smallest of the cockatoos, which can be a plus for people who may not have adequate space for one of the larger cockatoos.
he Goffin has a shorter crest on the head than other cockatoos; the crest stands up when they are frightened or get excited during play. Goffins love people and like to cuddle, although they are usually less dependent than other cockatoos. They are very active, and need extended periods of time outside of the cage as well as a variety of toys to prevent stress that could lead to feather-picking and destructive behavior. Examples of good toys include soft wood toys, tree branches and rope toys for chewing, braided or knotted toys for undoing, bells and noisemaker toys, and brightly-colored acrylic toys.
Like other cockatoos, Goffins can be loud screechers, especially if they do not receive adequate attention or have things to keep them busy. Although they are not known for their talking ability, some Goffins can be taught to say quite a few words. Most Goffins respond to music and love to dance. They are very bright, love to play, and may quickly learn to open the cage door. This bird is small in size, but big in personality! If you are able to provide the time and stimulating environment they need, a Goffin’s Cockatoo can be a delightful companion for years to come.
Life Span: 40+ years with good care; probably much longer in the wild Age at Maturity: 2-3 years
Galah (Rose Breasted) Cockatoo
The Galah, Eolophus roseicapillus, is also known as the Rose-breasted Cockatoo or Galah Cockatoo. It is one of the most common and widespread cockatoos, and it can be found in open country in almost all parts of mainland Australia. It is endemic in Australia and Tasmania, where its distinctive pink and grey plumage and its bold and loud behaviour make it a familiar sight in The Bush and increasingly in urban areas. Sexes are similar, differing only in eye colour: the male has a brown iris, the female red. Typical birds are about 350mm long and weigh between 300 and 400 grams.
Galahs are highly social and very long-lived, they bond socially with their owners, and like most cockatoos, are noisy and require a great deal of attention and care. Both male and female galahs are great talkers but the male is thought to be the better talker. They’re very loving and affectionate birds which form a very strong bond with their owner and like to think of themselves as ‘part of the family’. However, they do like their privacy at times and are quite happy to simply be around the family rather than be handled all hours of the day.
Sulphur Crested Cockatoo
The Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Cacatua galerita, is one of the larger and more widespread of Australia’s cockatoos. Typically these birds will weigh around 800 grams. In most cases, male birds can be distinguished from Females with their almost black eyes, whereas the female has a more red/brown coloured eye. Their distinctive raucous call can be very loud; it is meant to travel through the forest environments in which they live, including tropical and subtropical rainforests. These birds are naturally curious creatures, as well as very intelligent.
The Moluccan Cockatoo, Cacatua moluccensis also known as Salmon-crested Cockatoo is a cockatoo endemic to south Moluccas in eastern Indonesia. At 50 cm, it is the largest of the white cockatoos. The female is larger than the males on average. It has white-pink feathers with a definite peachy glow, a slight yellow on the underwing and underside of the tail feathers and a large retractable recumbent crest which it raises when threatened to frighten potential attackers (may also be raised in excitement or other ’emotional’ displays). It also has an extremely loud voice and in captivity is a capable mimic.
The potential owner should be aware of the bird’s needs, and know how loud these birds can be. The Moluccan Cockatoo is often considered to be “one of the most mentally and emotionally complicated parrots to deal with” and can develop severe psychological problems if not provided with sufficient attention, interaction and entertainment by its owner.
The Umbrella Cockatoo, Cacatua alba (also known as the White Cockatoo) is a medium-sized, up to 46 cm long cockatoo endemic to the islands of Halmahera, Bacan, Ternate, Tidore, Kasiruta and Mandiole in North Maluku, Indonesia. At first sight it appears to be a white parrot with brown or black eyes and a dark grey beak. If it is surprised, it extends a large and striking crest, which has a semicircular shape (similar to an umbrella, hence the name). The Umbrella Cockatoo weighs about 400 grams for small females and up to 800 grams for big males. The male Umbrella cockatoo usually have a broader head and a bigger beak than the female.
Hand-reared Umbrella Cockatoos can make good pets, as they are sociable, intelligent, and they can learn tricks and be trained. They require a large cage (at least 4 ft x 3 ft x 6 ft) and they need to exercise outside of their cage often. They can imitate basic human speech, but they are not considered the most able speakers among parrots. They are very social, needing a lot of interaction. They can be very loud with their calls The Umbrella Cockatoo can live up to and perhaps beyond, 80 years in age.
They are not an easy pet to keep and require a lot of time, devotion, and understanding from their caregivers. They can destroy furniture with their powerful beaks, and even the sweetest cockatoo may inflict a serious bite without provocation. Additionally, they can make a lot of loud noise, and their large droppings are quite messy. Umbrella cockatoos as pets need so much care and attention, and can be so destructive and expensive to keep, that they are often passed from one owner to the next. This instability is very hard on the bird and can cause self destructive behavior such as feather picking, plucking, and mutilating.
Umbrella Cockatoos tend to molt continuously, which causes a white powdery dust to form in the environment in which the birds are located. This molting can cause respiratory problems in sensitive humans. Air filters and air purifiers placed in proximity of the bird cage, without causing drafts (these birds are especially sensitive to drafts and should not be exposed to them), can greatly minimize the dust and molting problem. Regular bathing is another way to help control the amount of dust circulated into the air.
Yellow Crested (Lesser Sulphur-Crested) Cockatoo
The Yellow-crested Cockatoo, Cacatua sulphurea also known as Lesser Sulphur-crested Cockatoo is a medium-sized, up to 35cm long, cockatoo with an all-white feathers, bluish bare orbital skin, grey feet, black bill and yellow crest. Both sexes are similar.
The Yellow-crested Cockatoo is distributed to wooded and cultivated areas of Timor-Leste and Indonesia’s islands of Bali, Timor, Sulawesi and Lesser Sunda Islands. The diet consists mainly of seeds, buds, fruits, nuts and herbaceous plants.
Bare Eyed Cockatoo
The Little Corella, Cacatua sanguinea, is a white cockatoo native to Australia; it is sometimes called the Bare-eyed cockatoo. The Little Corella grows to 36 to 39 cm in length. Bare-eyed cockatoos – also known as little corellas or short-billed corellas – are sometimes confused with the smaller Goffin’s cockatoo. These are medium-sized white birds (14 to 17 inches long) with short white recumbent crests, blue eye rings and a small pink patch between the eyes and nares. The undersides of their flight feathers are yellow. Although they are largely underrated and often passed over because of their appearance, bare-eyeds are intelligent birds with exceptional personalities. They are gentle, playful and affectionate – and they make very good pets. They don’t often speak well, but they are not as loud, demanding or possessive as the larger white cockatoos. Bare-eyed cockatoos probably live up to 50 years.
These birds are inquisitive and love to chew objects, but are not as destructive as other cockatoos. They should always be provided with toys, blocks of wood or branches. Companion cockatoos should not be allowed unsupervised freedom in the home as they often encounter toxins or dangerous items. Young birds should be socialized to many people and exposed to a variety of situations, such as new cages, toys, visits to the veterinarian, handling by friends, wing and nail clips, etc. to avoid fear of new situations. They also need space for exercise.
The Ducorps’ Cockatoo (Cacatua ducorpsii) is a species of cockatoo endemic to the Solomon Islands. This small white cockatoo is larger than the Goffin’s Cockatoo yet smaller than the Umbrella Cockatoo. Notable features of this cockatoo include a blue eye ring and a recumbent crest which resembles a sail in its raised state.
The Ducorps is a very elegant, graceful cockatoo. Size approximately 12-13 inches with the male being slightly larger than the female. Contrary to other reports, visual sexing IS possible. The females upon reaching the age of 2-3 years become distinct because the eye colour changes to brownish/red, whereas the male retains a very dark eye colour. This is the case in quite a few other cockatoo species, but not all.
They are predominantly white, with yellow under the wings and tail. Pink under the helmet crest feathers, and under the head and upper chest feathers. With a blue head colour underneath. This head colour is very apparent when the birds are very young, before the feathers appear and hide it. The most striking feature of this cockatoo is the vivid blue eye ring, making them visually very attractive. The beak is gray horn coloured. They are undoubtedly very appealing.
The Ducorp’s is a very beautiful and uncommon bird! This cockatoo species has a lot of wonderful qualities. As one of the smaller cockatoo species the Ducorp’s, quieter than most Cockatoos, but possesses a very good ability to mimic human speech. They have a clear speaking voice, small vocabulary, and seem to begin speaking more quickly than other Cockatoos. Their sweet personalities make it a favorite with families. It has a very steady personality and hand-raised babies make delightful pets!
The secret in raising a healthy, happy and independent Ducorp’s is abundance of everything. You must keep your Ducorp’s Cockatoo in a cage, BUT be sure it gets plenty of exercise. The cage should not be smaller than 30 inches square and 30 inches tall.
Lots and lots of different and stimulating toys are suggested (to chew, play and cuddle with). They especially love objects they can untie, unwind, unlock, tease apart or destroy.
Ducorp’s Cockatoos like large varieties of healthy foods, dried fruits, pasta, pellets, nuts, etc. and most importantly, an abundance of patience. They are not “needy” birds and are very content to be left to their own devices, but a good two hours a day minimum is needed for good socialization skills. The more the merrier, and the more change they encounter as young birds the more adaptable to change they will be as they mature. Even when they do “sound off demanding attention and the sound level is no where near that of an Umbrella, Triton or Moluccan.
Citron Crested Cockatoo
The Citron-crested Cockatoo, Cacatua sulphurea citrinocristata is a medium-sized cockatoo with an orange crest, dark grey beak, pale orange ear patches, and strong feet and claws. The underside of the larger wing and tail feathers has a pale yellow colour. The eye colour ranges from brown through very dark brown to black. Both sexes are similar.
The smallest of the Yellow-crested Cockatoo subspecies, it is distributed and endemic to Sumba and Lesser Sunda Islands in Indonesia. The diet consists mainly of seeds, buds, fruits, nuts and herbaceous plants.
As hand-reared birds Citron-crested Cockatoos can make good pets, as they are friendly and sociable. They are not as noisy as most cockatoos, but are curious and like to chew. Generally they can be quieter, but they can make a moderately loud honking or screeching sound. They can also make a repetitive quieter whistling or squeaking noise. Perhaps one of the most common misconceptions about these birds is that they are the quietest cockatoo. No cockatoos are quiet.
Extremely intelligent and strongly bonding these parrots are delightful. They can entertain themselves for hours, like foot or puzzle toys and have a long attention span. Long leather strips with pieces of wood are a favorite toy, which will be woven into different designs and held and chewed on. They are not good at imitating human speech as some members of the parrot family, having a vocabulary of up to only 15 words or phrases. They readily learn tricks and they can be trained. They often raise the coloured crest feathers in display or when surprised. Their droppings are semi-solid and can be messy. As with many cockatoo species, Citron-crested Cockatoos taken as pets need much greater care and attention than other companion parrots.
Eleanora’s Cockatoo, (Cacatua galerita eleonora) also known as the Medium Sulphur Crested Cockatoo
The Eleanoras inhabit the Aru Islands off the southern coast of New Guinea. They live over broad areas of the Eastern half of Australia too. It prefers to live in exposed woodlands from the balmy to the moderate temperature territories.
The Eleanora Cockatoo is one of the Sulfur Crested Cockatoos and is the smallest of the four subspecies.
The average weight of a male is about 2 pounds and a female about 1 3/4 pounds. Average Size 16 to 18 inches long.
When a bird is on a bird list as a Medium Sulfur Crested cockatoo, birders are likely mentioning the Eleanora. The Eleanora is a lovely white bird that has a lengthy light colored crest with an attractive up swinging point. On the under parts of their wings, tail, and over the ears are colored chiffon.
The ring around their eye is a bleached blue in color and their feet are grayish. Their bill is very dark but in the adults, because of a light powder cover, makes their beak appear gray.
Eleanoras can live if properly cared for up to 55 years of age.
Eleanoras cockatoos are one of the most affectionate and loving of all parrots. Intelligent, inquisitive and playful, they seem to enjoy taking things apart to “see how they work”. They require a lot of attention and play time.
All of the Sulfur Crested Cockatoo’s are quite popular in the pet trade, but are often not recommended for beginners. These are highly intelligent birds, which require much attention from their owners. They may also suffer from boredom, because of their intelligence, and should be given plenty of toys and opportunity to interact with their owners. They are hard chewers and should be given plenty of chew toys otherwise they may be destructive. Like most cockatoos, they are not known to be good talkers, but there are always exceptions. If you are looking for a bird with a strong talking ability, this may not be the bird for you. Like most cockatoos the Eleonora Cockatoo is a social bird that is seen traveling in large flocks in the wild. For this reason, in captivity they require environments where they are given plenty of attention. If they are not allowed a lot of interaction with their owners, behavioral problems, such as screaming and feather plucking may result. In general, the Eleonora Cockatoo is a loud bird and may be even louder during daytime hours when they are left alone. For this reason they may not be suitable for apartment living. The Eleonora Cockatoo is very affectionate and will usually form a close bond with their owners. They usually love to be cuddled and snuggled as well. Because of their high intelligence, they can often be taught many tricks and are not uncommon in pet shows where parrots perform for audiences. They are generally not nervous and typically do not become startled easily. They should be allowed out of their cages regularly, though they should be closely supervised, as they are curious and known to roam. The Eleonora Cockatoo is also known as the Greater Sulfur Crested Cockatoo and as the Medium Sulphur Crested Cockatoo. It has been reported that hand-raised Eleonoras are less noisy than those that are not. Additionally they are reported to be more independent than some other species of cockatoo.
The Eleonora Cockatoo has a reputation as an escape artist and one may need to purchase a special lock for their cage to prevent unwanted escapes.