A Brief History
The cockatoo belongs to the bird family, Cacatuidae. A native of Australia, southeast Asia and New Zealand, 21 species of the birds exist currently. They come in a range of colors and sizes. The birds sport a feather crest on top of their head and have curved beaks. In their wild habitat, the birds mate for life and live in large, family based colonies. The birds live approximately 40 to 60 years, but in captivity some have lived been documented to live over 100 years.
Some cockatoos acquire the ability of human speech when kept in captivity.
Learning everything you ever wanted to know about cockatoos and their care requirements, does not happen overnight. All cockatoos are unique and have different personalities – they are truly individual. The birds have a high-intelligence level; some people have compared them to a five year old child. This intelligence makes each one stand out; no two are ever alike. Owning a cockatoo is not for everyone as they are a challenging bird. They require constant attention and stimulation. The birds thrive on interaction with their humans, so cannot be placed in a cage and forgotten, or they will develop health and mental disorders.
Freedom & Exercise
Place the cockatoo bird’s cage in an area frequented by the family; isolating a cockatoo away from human contact is comparable to abuse. Cockatoos need to be close to their human family. The bird cannot reside within its cage for extended periods of time; it requires time out of the cage.
The cockatoo will adore climbing on the top of the cage to get a different view of the world. Provide various perches for the bird throughout the house. Most commercial bird stands or perches have a wide array of parrot approved toys attached to them. Some also sport water and food dishes. The cockatoo will benefit from sitting on the perch and feeling free. Some perches can be successfully suspended from the ceiling and even allow the birds the joy of swinging. A cockatoo must have daily freedom or it will never be truly happy.
The cockatoo can easily be trained to behave itself when out of the cage. The cockatoo as a pet, is even easily toilet trained. If it starts to shake or twitch its tail immediately, put it in an appropriate place to defecate. The bird will soon learn to hold its eliminations until in a designated area. This allows the bird the freedom to sit on a chair or a couch with its owner, and get sufficient time out of the cage to stretch their wings.
Cockatoos require adequate snuggle time. They have an loving nature and they thrive on sitting on their owners lap and being petted.
Provide ample toys for the cockatoo to enjoy. The bird thrives on daily playtime with its human family. Take the time to play a game with the bird using one of its many bird toys. The bird will adore this time period with its owner.
Dinner time is the perfect time to celebrate being a family. The cockatoo needs to share this special time with its human family. When the family sits down to dinner, be sure to give the cockatoo a few choice pieces of the dinner to share too. Cockatoos should be provided with daily parrot approved pellets, seeds, fresh vegetables and fresh fruit. Cockatoos adore eating, and they develop individual likes and dislikes, just like humans. In the wild the cockatoo feeds with its flock. Feeding is a social event, and the bird still requires the same interaction in captivity.
A Lifetime Commitment
Choosing a cockatoo for a pet should never be a spur of the moment decision. The bird will spend a lifetime with you, and you may be faced with willing it to a family member after your demise. It is a huge responsibility. The cockatoo demands emotional support and care from its owner that is equivalent to having a five year old child for a lifetime. Everything you ever wanted to know about cockatoos is a continuous process – a lifetime adventure that you and your bird will embark upon together.