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Cockatoos are recognisable by the showy crests and curved bills. Their plumage is generally less colourful than that of other parrots, being mainly white, grey or black and often with coloured features in the crest, cheeks or tail. On average they are larger than other parrots; however, the cockatiel, the smallest cockatoo species, is a small bird. The phylogenetic position of the cockatiel remains unresolved, other than that it is one of the earliest offshoots of the cockatoo lineage. The remaining species are in two main clades. The five large black coloured cockatoos of the genus Calyptorhynchus form one branch. The second and larger branch is formed by the genus Cacatua, comprising 11 species of white-plumaged cockatoos and four monotypic genera that branched off earlier; namely the pink and white Major Mitchell's cockatoo, the pink and grey galah, the mainly grey gang-gang cockatoo and the large black-plumaged palm cockatoo.
These birds want your attention 24/7 and can cuddle with you for hours. They don’t understand that you have a life and you’ll most likely never get them to understand that. If you don’t meet your bird’s needs, he will most likely scream non-stop, pluck out his feathers, and become very aggressive. Feather plucking is a very serious condition–birds that begin to feather pluck can also start self mutilating.
These behavioral problems can come about from lack of interaction, wrong foods, bad placement, improper cages and many other factors. This is why they are the most common parrots found at bird rescues. So keep in mind that these birds require a very high time and care commitment.
> You will also find that ‘Toos are very loud. They love to scream and Moluccans can scream up to 135 decibels. Some will scream for attention and some will scream for no reason at all. They like to perform and show off, which can include screaming early in the morning as well as in the evening.
They can also be aggressive for no apparent reason. Because of this, you should never let your ‘Too on your shoulder or dominant aggressive behavior may begin. They are very smart, curious, and mischevious. They are expert escape artists and can open almost any cage door. You need to put locks on your bird’s cage doors, but keep in mind that many can learn to pick a padlock or open a combination lock. They also love to chew and will destroy your home if left unattended.
While purchasing a cage, keep in mind that they not only need large cages, but also very well built cages. It’s not difficult for a ‘Too to learn how to take apart a poorly built cage.
They also differ by subspecies when it comes to behavior. For example, Goffin’s are a bit more independent than the other subspecies, so they make better pets for the average bird owner. So, make sure you research the individual subspecies for more information. If you are able to spend at least two full hours a day with your bird (out of his cage), not leave the house for 6 or more hours everyday, cook for your bird and provide him with a variety of healthy foods, handle the loud screaming, afford the large cage and huge amount of toys, and deal with the adjustment stage that can include aggression, then rescuing a ‘Too might be a great idea. Make sure you research as much as possible because you don’t want to add to the already out-of-hand rescue problem.
Exercise: A cockatoo should be allowed plenty of opportunity for exercise. 3 to 4 hours a day outside of the cage is ideal. If not practical, then at least an hour on a Play Gym with time allowed for interaction with people.
Cage Size: The bigger the cage the better. Large Cockatoo’s, such as Umbrella’s and Moluccan’s should have a cage 40” wide x 30” deep at minimum. Smaller Cockatoo’s such as the Goffin’s and Ducorps can get by with a cage 36”wide x 24” deep, but again bigger is always better! I recommend 40” wide x 36” deep for ALL size Cockatoo’s. They love the space and this allows lots of room for toys and perches.
Entertainment: Lots and lots and lots of toys….. toys to chew, toys to shred, puzzle toys, simple toys, complicated toys, wood toys, rope toys, raffia toys…… Leaving the television or a radio on when you are gone is appreciated by many Cockatoo’s. Most love music!