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Among the different types of birds that people want to have as pets, cockatoos are very common in countries like Australia. An animal that has special gifts to live with the human being.

Types of cockatoos

What exactly is a cockatoo?

At first, the English naturalist George Robert Gray was considered the cockatoos  as a subfamily of the Psittacidae, the family of parrots, . However, over the years several experts changed their definition, until DNA studies showed that the current cockatoos separated from the parrots centuries ago.

With this, the cockatoos became a separate species from the parrots. Within the cacatuinae there are many species, but there is no clear relationship between each of them and  there is not much information that can clarify this relationship.


However, there are still many who consider it as a member of the family of parrots, this made it an indispensable bird for all lovers of these animals, especially for its beauty and the great company it supposes for humans.

A cockatoo, does it have a long life?

Within the group of cockatoos, the one with the longest life is the nymph cockatoo that can live up to 25 years if well cared for. since there are some nymph cockatoos that have managed to reach without problems the 30 – 40 years.

As for other types of cockatoos, the average life expectancy in captivity is 20 years. Interestingly, in the wild the life expectancy of these birds has been proven to reach 50 years, although they have not explained the reason.

How exactly is a cockatoo?

Although there are some types of cockatoos that do not look anything like the rest of their relatives, there are some subspecies that share some very common characteristics. As a general rule, the size ranges between 30 – 60 centimeters, being able to have a weight of 300 grams in those of small size, while those of big size can easily exceed one kilo of weight.

Something that characterizes them is the hair that is on the head, called plume, which they raise when they pose after the flight or when they feel excited. They have a curved beak and zygalactyl fingers like parrots.

However, they also have some characteristics that help differentiate them from their distant relative, such as having a gallbladder, the absence of Dyck’s texture on his pen, which is why some parrots have blue and green plumage. They can also be differentiated because the plumage of a cockatoo is less alive than that of a parrot, being the most common black, gray or white in feathers, but there are species that have areas with more striking colors, such as yellow, the pink or the red.

Its legs are short with very strong claws. When climbing the branches they use their beak as if it were a third leg. In the case of males, the beak is usually a little larger than that of the female and somewhat more curved. On the other hand, the female usually has a more muted tone in the color of their plumage against the male, which has much more vivid colors.

What is the behavior of a cockatoo?

Cockatoos are diurnal animals that use the light of day to find their food. They wait until the sun warms their places of rest to be able to feed themselves and they are usually very social animals between them and with other types of birds.

Regarding its relationship with humans, although it has become a very typical animal at home, human activity has ended the habit of many species. On the contrary, some species have benefited to survive, especially those that feed mainly on cereals and seeds.

It is not an animal at all conflicting with humans. It can become an animal as affectionate and sticky as a lovebirds if the owner is able to earn enough trust. But it is a long process for which the owner is going to have to use a lot of his time in order to establish a link. But once achieved, there is no better companion animal than a cockatoo.

It is not an animal at all conflicting with human beings. It can become an animal as affectionate and sticky as a lovebirds if the owner is able to earn enough trust. But it is a long process for which the owner is going to have to use a lot of his time in order to a establish relationship whit the bird. But, once achieved, there is no better companion animal than a cockatoo.

I want my cockatoo to trust me, what do I have to do?

Like all companion animals, you can not wait to make contact with the bird from the first day, especially when it is locked in a cage. Once you get home, you may be a bit aggressive and scared, so it is beter to leave its alone the first day or simply pass by its side, so that it becomes accustomed to the presence of its new master.

Once in a while, when passing by the side of the cage, nothing happens to tell it something, in a normale voice, so that it becomes accustomed to the voice of the new master. You can tell it its name, or something else that can get his attention. Getting used to the voice can be a matter of a couple of days, a few hours or a month. Everything depends on the character of the cockatoo and how young it is.You will know that a relation has finally been strengthened when, upon hearing your voice, the cockatoo approaches the bars of the cage. If you wish, at this point you can caress the back or the neck, gently through the bars.

But, if you want to go a little further, you can start trying to put your hand inside the cage. Again it is very possible that it is scared, since it will be something completely new for it. But you can allso giving it to eat by the hand. If it bites you you do not have to remove it, because that will make itunderstand that it has “power” when attacking you. After a few days, he will let himself be touched and it is possible that he even poses on your arm.

In a cage or free around the house?

There are many owners who have a cockatoo who have chosen to raise her in the house freely, giving her a hanger as a home, so that the animal can move freely in the house.

Is it bad to do that? Not at all, but when you have to take the cockatoo to the veterinarian and put her in a cage, it may be very violent when it is locked up, when it is usually free.

It is beter to get used to the cage ,This is easy to achieve, since you only have to take it out at certain times to let it move around the house at ease.

Do not worry if it hurts, because, like the macaws, the cockatoos usually move around, rarely take flight in closed spaces, unless they feel very nervous.

The first time you leave her loose, it is likely to refuse to return to its cage. In this case, it is necessary to avoid taking it or compelling it at all costs. Do not give him food out of the cage, so he does not get used to it. It is best to eat once you have returned to your cage.

The first time you leave it free at home , it is likely to refuse to return to its cage. In this case, it is necessary to avoid taking it or compelling it at all costs. Do not give it food out of the cage, so it does not get used to it. It is beter to eat once it have returned to your cage.

You have to buy a cage, how should it be?

In the case of going to buy a cage for a single cockatoo, it will have to be 60 centimeters high, 50 centimeters wide and 45 centimeters deep. The bars will not have to have more than 2 centimeters of separation, in order to avoid that the cockatoo can put the head between the bars.

It is necessary to avoid at all costs that the cage is made of zinc or lead, poisonous materials for birds. This must be stainless steel. They are animals that like to climb the walls of the cage, so you will have to have some horizontal bars. The shape of the cage must be prevented from being cylindrical or shaped like a hut. The better will be a rectangular cage.

At the base of the cage there must be a special cloth that helps to easily remove the remains of the food that the petbird drops when eating. In case you its not, you can put newspaper.

Inside the cage the cockatoo will not feel overwhelmed by having some toys. First of all are the hangers. We must avoid all plastic or metal, because they damage the legs and do not allow them to sharpen their claws. The beter ones are those of natural branch. As for the toys, you do not have to fill the entire cage, two or three will suffice and then change them as time passes so that the bird does not get bored. Thebeter are a ladder and a rubber toy to bite.

the feeder and drinker is best to be on the outside. The reason? The cockatoos may not be as clever as a macaw, but they are equally intelligent. If they are placed on the inside, they will learn over time that there is a possible way out of their cage and they will try to escape when they are changing the feeder or drinking fountain. And it is very dangerous when they already have a certain age, because they could be trapped in their attempt to escape.

Cleaning the cage of the cockatoo, what should you know?

The cockatoos are a very clean animals, so at least twice a week you have to clean the base of the cage and about three times a month make a good cleaning of the cage.

To clean the cage, first of all you have to accustom the cockatoo to be free around the house or place it to another small cage,but that does not seem overwhelming to this petbird. Once this has been get, the cage must be cleaned in a separate room, so that it is not harmful to the bird

It can be cleaned with bleach diluted in water, cleaning the bars with a brush to eliminate any traces of toxins or bacteria that may harm the bird. Then it is enough to wet it in water and use a dry cloth to keep it clean. You can let it dry a bit in the sun, so that the bird has more time to be free around the house.

I have a problem, where do I place my cockatoo’s cage?

Normally, cockatoos are animals that live in large houses, but this does not mean they can not live in a smaller floor. Of course the problem is, where to place the cage?

Well, first of all we must know that the cage should be in the living room of the house where there is more social interaction between family members, such as a room. the cage should be located with two walls, which helps the bird know where the owner is coming from and does not get scared so easily.


The height should be at the same level of the eyes of the owner, since if it gets lower, the animal may feel intimidated, and if it is higher, feel more powerful. It should not be in an area where the sun is full for many hours, nor in areas where there are many air currents, it could get sick.

What do I feed my cockatoo?

Cockatoos eat mainly seeds and other foods of vegetable origin. Since it is enclosed and can not go to look for its food to the trees, it is necessary to give it fruits.There is no problem with the type, as they enjoy all the fruits that can be found in stores throughout the year, such as bananas, apples or grapes. Nectarine, peach, apricot, pear and strawberry are also very well received, but from time to time.Other fruits that they like are tropical fruits such as mangos, guavas, kiwis or papayas, but these should be given from time to time, as their high fiber content can cause diarrhea. Before you give any fruit, you have to clean it well and cut it into pieces, making a mixture so it can enjoy various types of fruits. But if you do not have fresh fruit at home, you can offer some plums, blueberries or raisins or a little molasses.

It is important to give a good amount of green vegetables, such as romaine lettuce, Chinese or curly cabbage, chard or mustard leaves, since they provide many nutrients. The darker the color, the more nutrients they have. The sweet potato and the pumpkin are very good because they give vitamin A, while the carrot can give vitamin C and E. All you have to boil and chop a bit so you can eat well. You always have to give it fresh vegetables, never canned, as it is almost completely devoid of nutrients.

Of course there are some foods that you have to avoid at all costs, such as alcohol or chocolate that are deadly to the cockatoo. Among others forbidden are aubergine, cabbage, caffeine, milk, cream, potatoes or the ruibardo.

How to know that my cockatoo is sick?

A good owner knows how to detect immediately when his bird is sick. If your cockatoo is a very lively animal, it would not be strange if suddenly it was dejected or very nervous. Among the most common diseases of these animals are:

Psittacosis: A very serious disease that can be transmitted to humans. The bird is down, shows symptoms of conjunctivitis and eye secretions and lose weight because it will stop eating. It can be cured using antibiotics but failure to detect it in time can be deadly for the animal.

Common cold: In the case of having located the cage of the cockatoo in a place of the house in which there are many air currents it would not be at tall strange that this one colds. He will sneeze, show lack of appetite and very difficult breathing. it will need to receive foods rich in vitamin C and also some antibiotic mixed with water. Of course, you will have to change the location of your cage.

Mites: A few dangerous parasites that can weaken the bird. They suck the bird’s blood and they reproduce little by little until they finish it off. They can also be transmitted to humans. The bird will not stop scratching and it is even possible that it tries to pluck feathers in some part of the body. To finish them, you have to use atomizers, but without abusing this.

Sour bitch: It is not common for it to suffer, but it is not impossible. It is an infection that occurs when the bird has not digested well any food and this is housed in the craw of the bird. This produces a swelling in the crop. It must be an expert veterinarian who unclogs the cockatoo’s crop.

Plucking feathers: That a cockatoo is plucking feathers does not mean that it has mites, but that it is a worrisome symptom. It is usually a symptom of depression or stress of the animal, such as losing a cage partner or feeling very lonely. It can also be due to a lack of minerals in the diet. To know if this is the case, it is necessary to observe if the bird eats the hemp of the feather, in which case it is necessary to give it more minerals.

Diarrhea: A symptom that can refer to many diseases, but it can also simply mean that you have eaten foods with a lot of fiber. In this case you have to give a little vitamin B12, about four drops, with the water to see if the diarrhea stops. If this is not the case, you have to take it to the vet.

Ovarian occlusion: A very serious situation that a veterinarian should treat. It occurs when an egg gets stuck inside the female and can not finish with the laying, which can end up leading to the death of the bird. Only an experienced veterinarian can help you expel him.

I want my cockatoo to pose on my arm or my finger, what do I have to do?

Of all the tricks that can be taught to a cockatoo, which is posed on the finger is the easiest in the world. However, first of all you will have to earn a bit of its trust and let itself be touched. Otherwise, the bird will feel uncomfortable and it is very possible that it will attack you.

Once you have your confidence, it is time to teach the trick in a few simple steps:

Once the bird is used to touching it, open the cage and place your hand. If it stay calm as you approach, do it without fear, but if it get more and more nervous, leave and repeat the procedure until you do.

It is a process that will take weeks or even months, everything depends on how affective the cockatoo is. Every day, for about ten minutes, try to do it. It is possible that when you get closer the cockatiel will move away, in that case you already know what is the limit that will allow you to approach. Knowing this, every day place your finger there, so that the bird becomes accustomed to its presence.

Little by little, the bird will get used to your hand entering the cage and will approach it. Once this is achieved, with a little push the bird will feel a little unbalanced and will climb on the finger, because you will see that this is where you find the support it need.

Once he gets on his finger, he can be taught an order to get used to it, like “up” and when he complies he can give him a gift that it likes very much. You may use its beak to get some stability, so do not pull your hand away, because that might scare it and it is would not want to try again.

What else can I teach my cockatoo?

Getting it on your finger is just the beginning and the easiest part of a cockatoo’s training. Now you have to go to the hardest part: learn other tricks

A good trick is to come to you when you call, and for that you must use a “clicker”. It’s a distinctive short sound that the bird recognizes instantly, which makes it go to do that trick. It can be a snap with the lips or a soft blow of the bird, which will capture all it attention. Once you have done well what you wanted, like going to your meeting, you can give him a treat.

You can teach him other simple tricks, such as getting on a table or pose in a person’s shoulder, for which you have to use the same trick of the clicker and give ita treat when it does.

There is a good training that helps to make it easier to take this bird to the vet, is to wrap it in a towel.To do this, when you are out of the cage, place a towel under the cockatoo, every day in your training sessions. Little by little, each day, go up the corners of the towel, stopping when you notice that the bird moves with difficulty. Follow the procedure every day until you can finally cover it with the towel and you can take it to the vet without much trouble.

Since they are distant relatives of parrots, cockatoos can also learn to speak, but they have to be relaxed and happy. To learn, you have to repeat a phrase a few times throughout the day, pronouncing the word frequently. If it manages to imitate you, you have to reward him. It is easier for a cockatoo to learn to speak if it is male, since they can imitate more sounds than females and the voice turns out to be a little clearer. They can start talking after 8 months of age.

It is possible that the cockatoo never learns to speak, but that it can learn other tricks such as whistling or dancing. To do this, whistle while you are dancing, following a constant rhythm and it is very possible that the bird ends up imitating you. it can also get used to it when you are listening to a particular song and you start dancing in front of the cage. Surely sooner or later the bird gets used to moving the body when you hear that song.

My cockatoo bites me, what do I do?

Although cockatoos are usually very sociable animals with humans, it would not be at all odd for you to be bitten, especially if you are trying to get them to pose on your finger or feed it by the hand.

When you are bitten while inside the cage, do not react with a shout or present a show of pain, since this encourages the bird to bite again when you see that you are going to try to put your hand in its cage. And if you withdraw your hand, you will be giving it a lot of authority within it, which can make it almost impossible to correct their behavior.

Once it has bitten you, you do not have to punish the bird, since you do not understand this action. Use a mild punishment, such as removing what you are nibbling so that you understand that you have done something wrong and only give it a reward when it do something right. But, in no case, you scream at him.

As with some animals, such as cats, cockatoos will only allow you to touch the crest or beak when they are calm. Some birds find this unpleasant so you will need a lot of patience to get them to let you touch them. It is very possible that when you let them do you bite, so, remember not to withdraw your hand or scream.

I want my cockatoo to breed, what do I do?

To begin with, we must understand that cockatoos, compared to other birds, are monogamous animals, so they spend their whole lives with the same pair. From young it is better to put the male and the female in the same cage, so that they already establish a bond from small.

The cage will have to be three times the size of a cage for a single cockatoo and protected from any type of predator. Buy a wooden nest, as they feel very comfortable and protected and help them to maintain their privacy.

After consummating the act, they can lay 2 to 5 eggs, the incubation period being about 21 days, although in some species it may be longer. In addition, you will notice that the male and female are taking turns for the incubation process. When the offspring are born, they are deaf and blind, so it is the parents who give them the food during the first six weeks of life. The youngs must take a soft meal, which will be provided by the parents.

After two months of life, the chicks can be moved to a cage, the size of two cockatoos, so that they begin to exercise and can stand on their own. If you are going to opt for breeding as a way of life, you will need an exclusive module for the chicks. its cage should not be located in a place where there are drafts or high levels of humidity. In addition, it must be well ventilated.