All about cockatoo

Cockatoo parrots are considered one of the most intelligent and extraordinary representatives of their family. They are incredibly intelligent, active and charming, which is why they often become a beloved and full member of the family. This article will discuss cockatoo parrots: their features, lifestyle and the most famous varieties.

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Cockatoo is a bird that belongs to the parrot family. It differs from other members of its family by its pronounced intellect, active and extraordinary character, as well as the incredible length of life - up to 100 years.

The most striking difference from other varieties is the presence of a crest or crown (elongated feathers on the head of an individual). Raised feathers can simultaneously denote fear, surprise, anger and joy, depending on the situation. In addition to their "crown", cockatoos have other distinctive features.

For example, color - it can be lemon, crimson, orange, pink and even black shades. However, blue or salad shades, popular among other members of the family, are not found here.

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In addition to the bright and amazing coloring, cockatoos are known for their massive, strong and downward-curved beak. If in other varieties the beak is purely decorative or serves for eating, then in cockatoo it is a universal assistant for crushing nuts, fruits, and seeds. Not to mention the fact that they actively use their beak to move through trees and shrubs, as well as to protect themselves from predators.

The body length of an individual cockatoo, depending on the species, can vary from 35 to 85 cm, the average weight of individuals is from 280 grams to 1.1 kg. Species differ in coloration, habitat and diet. Despite external and behavioral differences, all cockatoos are deeply social birds that often become family favorites and best friends.

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To date, there are about 25 varieties of cockatoos. Some of them are not easy to meet even in captivity, and therefore the most common breeds will be listed below. In total, the cockatoo family includes 21 full-fledged species and 5 genera.

All about cockatoo

Large and small yellow-crested

This type of cockatoo is characterized by the following features: the head and crest are white, the outer part of the wings is also white. The feathers themselves are narrow and long, the lower part of the plumage is usually yellowish or lemon in color. The rim near the eyes is bare, not covered with feathers. The difference between the male and female is in the color of the iris: if the male's iris is usually brown or dark brown, then the female's iris has bright reddish hues. The paws of the yellow-crested parrot are gray, leathery, often gray or black. The beak is also dark, rather short, but massive, the upper part of the beak is bent down.

There are two varieties of yellow-crested parrot: small and large. They differ from each other in the length of the body and wings, as well as in the color of the plumage in the crest.

In individuals of a large type of plumage, the plumage is pale lemon in color, in individuals of a small one, it is bright yellow, even orange.

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This variety is considered the most popular among bred at home. Differs in sociability, long life span, activity, rapid development of new conditions of detention. However, the bird requires more attention to its personal space. Due to the significant size of individuals of a large species (up to 55 centimeters in body length), it is necessary to provide this breed of cockatoo with a cage with dimensions of at least 100 by 100 cm and a height of at least 170 cm.

Under natural conditions, the bird lives in Australia and Tasmania, moves in flocks of up to 30 individuals, the main part of its food is fruits, seeds, and insects. It has no special preferences for it, and therefore it feels great at home. Good for training. It is worth feeding an adult twice a day - early in the morning and in the evening. Refers to a species of parrot that can be taught to talk.

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White-crested cockatoo or "Alba"

It is also a fairly common variety that can often be found at home. You can recognize it by the snow-white plumage and the tuft, which, when raised, forms a characteristic crown. The outer part of some wings may be yellowish or slightly reddish. The rim of the eyes is blue or grey. The difference between the female and the male is in the color of the iris: in the female it is brown with red tints, in males it is black, dark brown. The paws are massive, strong, the color is gray or black, like the color of the beak (also massive, the upper part is bent down).

This species is not one of the smallest: the body length of mature individuals can be up to 50 centimeters, the wings are just as large - up to 35 cm, the tail - up to 18-20 cm. In addition, the species has a rather large weight - up to 600 grams.

All about the cockatoo

To a greater extent, the species is distributed on the islands of the Moluccas archipelago, found in forests, swamps, mangroves, often forms nests at an altitude of half a mile above sea level. The diet is similar to that of the yellow-crested species: insects, fruits, seeds of fruits and plants. It moves both in packs of up to 60 individuals and in pairs.

At home, the variety is considered unusually sociable, constantly in need of communication and attention. He loves to play, fly, in a word - play pranks. Unlike other species, it has a fairly quiet voice. By nature, he is calm, playful, trusting and smart.

It also needs a spacious cage and a large variety of toys and perches for entertainment. Refers to the talking type of cockatoo.

All about the cockatoo

Moluccan cockatoo

It is considered one of the largest in size among all types of cockatoos. The length of the body alone in an adult can reach 60 centimeters, while the mass of most individuals often reaches 1.2 kg. A distinctive feature of this species of cockatoo is the white or slightly pinkish plumage, as well as the bright red color of the inside of the crest. Based on the description, it is easy to understand that the bird needs an extremely voluminous cage (up to 2 meters in height) and a huge personal space.

The general description of the species is similar to the description of the white-crested and yellow-crested cockatoo: long thin feathers, a long crest up to 15 cm long (however, in this case, not a thin, but a wide type), a large, strong, black or gray beak. Paws are large, massive, gray or dark gray. The iris of the eyes is dark (male) or burgundy (female), the rim around the eyes is without feathers, smooth.

In the natural environment, it can live up to 90 years, prefers to move in packs of up to 20 individuals or more. In the diet, he prefers insects and seeds. In captivity, it is not particularly picky about food, but it is worth excluding food that is harmful to parrots (which will be discussed later) and seeds / grains of the Rose family from the diet. These cockatoos are large and curious, and instead of breaking an apricot or cherry seed with their beak, they can simply swallow it.

At home, it is distinguished by activity, friendliness and love for the owner, but also aggression with poor care and dishonest attitude towards oneself. The species is prone to depressive disorders, so leaving one such parrot is not worth it.

In case of a long absence, it is advisable to leave it in the apartment with the radio or voice mail turned on.

Black or palm cockatoo

It is the largest representative of its family - the length of the body can reach 85 cm (maximum weight - 1000 g). It differs from other cockatoos in its deep dark color (with a green or reddish tint), a long and downward-curved beak, and red or pink wrinkled cheeks that darken in a state of stress, fear or aggression. Other features: the feathers are quite short and thin, the tail is large and massive, the crest is long with pointed tips, the eyes are black and brown. Males differ from females in the presence of a red tint on the breast and smaller size.

The homeland of the bird is Indonesia, the northern regions of Australia, New Guinea. Unlike other varieties, it prefers to travel either alone or together. Thanks to strong claws, it perfectly climbs trees, lives and likes to nest at a height, away from the ground. Prefers to eat all the same fruits, seeds and insects during periods of lack of food. Under natural conditions, it can live up to 90 years.

When kept at home, it can cause a lot of problems and inconvenience.

  • Due to the large wingspan and overall large size, it does not need a cage, but a real aviary with a minimum height of 2 meters or more.
  • Despite its attractive and exotic appearance, it rarely finds a common language with the owner, it is often without mood. In a state of aggression, it can pinch and bite the owner.
  • Extremely jealous and vindictive - does not tolerate other pets in the house, let alone children. It is not advised to leave him without a cage in a room with children - he is able to cripple them while the owner has moved away.
  • It does not differ in a colorful voice, with irritation and fear it makes sharp and unpleasant sounds. At the same time, he speaks poorly and almost does not give in to training; in his whole life he can learn no more than 10 words.

Due to the significant cost, individuals are rarely bred at home. Most often it can be found in contact or private zoos.

Pink or Cockatoo Gala

One of the smallest cockatoos known. It differs from other birds in the family by its extremely small size - up to 35 cm, the weight is also small - up to 370 grams in the most adult males. The wings are not oblong, rounded, up to 30 cm in length, the tail is also small - up to 12-15 cm. Up to 3 years, it is almost impossible to distinguish a female from a male, then in females the iris brightens significantly and acquires yellowish or even orange darkens more to dark brown).

The plumage is colorful and variegated, characterized by bright pinks, greens and reds. The head is either completely white or light with a pinkish color, the abdomen and body are pink or dark pink, the back is grayish, the wings are usually gray or bluish, the tail is pale green or pale blue. On the head there is a small crest up to 5-7 cm in length, the beak is gray, as well as the claws. It feeds mainly on plants, insects, fruits (papaya, mango, capers).


  • despite their nondescript appearance, they live long enough - up to 50-55 years in natural conditions;
  • calm and friendly by nature, quickly get used to new conditions of detention, become attached to the owner;
  • unlike a black or white-crested parrot, it has a quiet and pleasant voice;
  • does not need large cages and aviaries, quickly gets used to new food, does not disdain fruits and vegetables.


  • they speak pretty badly, although they will try their best to repeat some phrases after you, but in a lifetime they will be able to remember no more than 40 individual words;
  • extremely social, without regular communication with the owner can literally wither away;
  • in its homeland it is considered a real pest - forming flocks of up to 1000 individuals, the species is able to devastate entire fields.

Banks' black-headed cockatoo

The rarest and most expensive type of cockatoo among the entire family. Recognizable by its black, gold-flecked plumage and red tail. Parrots of this breed are considered long-lived among all cockatoos and are able to live even in captivity for up to 100 years. The species owes its unusual name to the English naturalist Joseph Banks, who lived in the 18th century. The actual habitat of the mourning cockatoo is northern Australia. At the moment, the species has practically disappeared from the face of the Earth, and therefore is under the vigilant protection of the Australian government.

Red-tailed beauties are distinguished by a large total body length (up to 65 cm) and a long tail (up to 28-30 cm). The weight of an individual adult fluctuates around 750 grams. The difference between males and females is quite clear: males (completely black) have red plumage in the tail, females have numerous golden and silver dots and specks all over the body, and the tail is decorated with dark orange plumage. Moreover, males tend to have a much darker beak than females.

In their natural environment, mourning cockatoos live on the tops of eucalyptus and mangrove trees, where they make nests and hide from the hot Australian sun.

The diet consists of plants, various nuts and seeds, as well as fruits and insects.

The breed is rarely seen in captivity outside of Australia, so it is difficult to assess their intellectual and personal qualities and character traits while living at home. Zoologists say that these are friendly, trusting, but freedom-loving birds that rarely stay in one place for a long time, preferring to migrate from place to place.

Cockatoo Inca

The variety is rightfully considered one of the most beautiful among the entire family of parrots. It differs from other species in pale pink, sometimes peach plumage and a characteristic motley crest. The breed is found exclusively in Western Australia, where it lives in mangrove and eucalyptus forests. The species is also resistant to the aridity of the external climate, however, it tries to place its nests close to water.

It does not differ in great length or weight - up to 40 cm in body length and weight up to 450 grams. The cheeks, head and breast up to the limbs are pale pink, the wings are white with a characteristic orange color on the inside. The tail is white, the crest is long and thin - up to 12-15 cm, contains three shades at once - red, orange and white. The beak is miniature, white, the upper bridge of the nose is reddish-pink.

To distinguish a male from a female, again, it is possible only by the eyes. In the male, after 3-4 years, the iris finally darkens, becomes black-brown, in the female it acquires red and brownish hues.

In recent years, it has been under the threat of destruction due to a decrease in habitat area. The end of the 20th century had a negative impact on this, when the species was actually considered a pest due to the devastation of crops and fields. At the moment, only residents of Australia can get this cockatoo in private hands, and then with special permission. Attempts to export outside of Australia are strictly punishable by law.

What to feed?

Cockatoos are among those poultry that require not only especially careful care, but also a healthy, balanced and, most importantly, varied diet. In their natural habitat, these birds feed on insects, larvae, fresh fruits. Such nutrition includes everything necessary for the full functioning of the body. That is why at home food should not only be satisfying, but also contain a large number of trace elements and vitamins.

The main rule in compiling a diet for a cockatoo is to find the ideal middle ground in which the parrot would not experience prolonged hunger, but would not be overfed either. Changing the diet with the gradual addition of new products and feed is also one of the important conditions for the proper nutrition of this bird.

The daily feeding of a young cockatoo is divided into 3 or 4 stages with the gradual addition of a small amount of food. For adults, 2-3 servings per day will suffice. The diet of these birds is based on grain mixtures, seeds, nuts, corn, and almonds. At the same time, the food should be as fresh as possible, cockatoos are squeamish about already stagnant food and are more likely to remain hungry than try spoiled food.

If you do not have the opportunity to produce quality feeding so often and regularly - most likely, this is not your option for a pet.

Due to their unique ability to adapt to the external environment, cockatoos have a positive attitude towards the consumption of many vegetables and fruits. From vegetables they like beets, eggplants, cucumbers, carrots, green beans. Parrots cannot do without fruits at all, preferring not only the pulp, but also the bones, which contain many nutrients for their development. The most favorite fruits are pears, apples, pineapples, pomegranates. They also perfectly absorb many berries: cherries and sweet cherries, raspberries, gooseberries, blueberries, strawberries.

If your bird lacks protein and protein, or is just a growing baby, you can add some boiled poultry meat or hard cheese to the diet - this is a real delicacy for a cockatoo.

Before serving, the fruit should be cut into slices so that the parrot can safely take them in its paw. Do not leave fruits or other food in the cage for a long time - remove them immediately so that they do not start to deteriorate and the bird does not poison them. Young cockatoos can eat nothing but sunflower seeds for a long time. In this case, try to gradually add more fruits to the diet and reduce the simultaneous supply of seeds.

Of course, there are foods that should not be given to parrots, even in the smallest quantities.

  • Immediately it is necessary to exclude from the diet all sweets, as well as foods high in sugar. This is especially true for sweets and chocolate products. The fact is that sugar contains substances harmful to parrots that affect their digestion processes.
  • Try not to give the cockatoo fatty, fried, salty or pickled food under any circumstances. All of these foods may be very loved by your bird, but in any case they will negatively affect her body.
  • Refuse to add milk to the diet, it contains lactose, which is harmful to parrots, which they cannot process purely physiologically. Because of this, the birds may experience intestinal disorders, diarrhea.
  • For individuals of a large type, it is not recommended to give fruits with large kernels - in order to avoid swallowing the whole seeds by the parrot.
  • Forget about movies about pirates and in no case let your crested friend alcohol as food or drink. Even the smallest dose of alcohol can have a deadly effect on the bird's organs.
  • Of all the common fruits and vegetables, the cockatoo is strictly forbidden to give avocados. This fruit contains a huge percentage of fat that the body of this bird will not be able to process. It is also not recommended to give parsley, cabbage and coffee.

Before adding new fruits, vegetables, grains, and other foods to your diet, consult an experienced zoologist or veterinarian in advance. It will help you not only eliminate harmful substances from the diet, but also draw up a detailed diet for the bird in the near future.

Constantly maintain a stable water level in the parrot's cage, while it is advisable to give not just collected or filtered water, but settled water.

Features of care and maintenance

One of the most important points in breeding cockatoo is the conditions of detention. It is from the comfort and how the bird will be looked after that its mood and health depend. At the very beginning, you should think about buying a cage if you want to breed cockatoos at home. A cage is a necessity for cockatoos - parrots should have their own place, where they would always have food and drink, entertainment.

Most varieties of cockatoo are large birds with a huge wingspan, which is why the approximate characteristics of the cage should be at least 120x90x120 cm. It should be a moderately spacious indoor area with good oxygen circulation. To make the cage easier to wash and clean from excrement and food, buy a version with a retractable bottom.

If you plan to breed cockatoos and expect to grow several individuals outside the home, then you should take care of buying a large aviary with dimensions of at least 4.5x2x2 meters. In the aviary, several separate houses should be built for each parrot. As with the cage situation, fill the aviary with some toys, perches, and places to rest. There must be a small hard thing in the cage / aviary that the parrot could gnaw on.

As for the material from which the cage should be, then first of all consider metal cages. During a period of activity and boredom, a cockatoo can simply damage polymer or wooden structures. Feeders, latch or lock must also be made of strong and durable material, the lock must be strong and complex, otherwise such a smart bird as a cockatoo can simply crack it. Discard solid glass cages like aquariums - cockatoos constantly need fresh air, moreover, such aquariums are much more difficult to clean.

The cage should be placed in a well-lit area with an approximate temperature of 18-20 degrees Celsius. The desired humidity level should not be below 70%, drafts should not be allowed. Some breeders prefer to place the bird near a window on the sunny side, but this is only acceptable in winter when the bird needs as much light and heat as possible. You should not put the bird near the batteries and under direct sunlight, this can also come back to haunt with serious diseases.

Cockatoos are incredibly clean and picky, they do not tolerate dirt and dust, so the cage should be equipped with an impromptu pool in which your parrot could swim.

If there is no place for a pool or it is constantly clogged, you can spray your bird from an ordinary sprayer once a day, the water should be warm and slightly settled.

One of the unpleasant features of the cockatoo is a very high and loud voice. An irritated, hungry or simply bored bird can bring a lot of worries to both you and your neighbors. That is why it is better to prepare a room with tolerable soundproofing for a parrot.

Avoid too frequent contact with the animal. If you teach a cockatoo to constant attention, then when you are not at home, the bird will probably get bored, which will affect its health. This difficulty mostly concerns families with children, where little children are actively interested in the bird and play with it until a certain age, and then they come less and less often.

Life span at home

Cockatoos are distinguished by a phenomenal life expectancy among their brethren - in rare cases, in some individuals, it reaches 90 and even 95 years. However, when buying any variety of cockatoo, you should not count on any specific life span. This is exactly the case when absolutely everything depends on the owner. The regularity and usefulness of feeding, careful care - only the necessary minimum that is required of you.

The biggest drawback, and at the same time the biggest advantage of this variety, is its incredible social attachment. In the natural environment, until they reach maturity, parrots move in flocks until they find a single partner with whom they will remain until death.

That is why cockatoos, as well as in the love field, are very attached to their owners and tend to miss them during their long absence. If you spend a lot of time at work or on the road, it may happen that your bird gets bored. And this can lead to serious depression in her. To everything, including separations, it is possible and necessary to accustom a bird.

Start small - go to another room for a while and leave the parrot alone, then come back (you can bring some goodies). Gradually increase the duration of separations - the cockatoo should get used to the fact that if you leave, you will definitely return.

Common diseases

Unfortunately, there are no animals immune to disease and death. Depending on the care, upbringing, living conditions, your bird may get sick. Below are the most common ailments in this species of birds.

  • diseases associated with indigestion;
  • parasitic type infections;
  • feather pulling - with stress, boredom and hunger;
  • pneumonia, some infectious diseases.

Common disease symptoms:

  • poor appetite or its complete absence;
  • regular and increasing sneezing;
  • tearing of the eyes, discharge from the nostrils;
  • a sharp appearance of prolonged screams;
  • looks tired, breathes deeply, eyes cloudy, slightly closed.

The main condition for the appearance of one or more of the symptoms described above is to refuse self-medication and consult a veterinarian as soon as possible. This is not the type of animal that is able to recover from some kind of disease on its own.

Most often, the following leads to the appearance of diseases and subsequent death of a bird:

  • irregular meals, lack of food and water;
  • lack of variety in the diet;
  • untimely treatment of colds;
  • inclusion in the diet of foods prohibited for cockatoos;
  • prolonged absence of the owner or social contacts.

See below for details.

Things to know (Q&A)

What is special about cockatoo?

When hand-fed as babies and properly tamed, cockatoos tend to form extremely strong bonds with their owners that last a lifetime. They are also known to be one of the most affectionate parrot species and sometimes called "velcro" birds

Is cockatoo a good pet?

Hand-fed umbrella cockatoos can be friendly, well-behaved pets . Many learn to do tricks and can mimic speech quite well. But as highly social birds, they tend to be very affectionate and even borderline obsessive about spending time with their favorite peopl

Where do cockatoos live?


Bird range. Cockatoos live in Australia, New Guinea, Indonesia, Solomon Islands, and the Philippines . They utilize rainforest, scrublands, eucalyptus grove, forest, mangrove, and open country.

What are cockatoos enemies?

Cockatoo Predators and Threats

Cockatoos are often preyed upon by falcons, eagles, owls, snakes, and large cats in the wild. While they are not completely defenseless, their smaller size makes individuals susceptible to large predators if they can be picked off from the floc

What can cockatoos do?

Cockatoos are fun-loving, intelligent and energetic parrots, and their food should reflect those traits. Wild cockatoos forage all day for seeds and nuts , as well as coconuts and grain crops. Like all companion parrots, cockatoos do not thrive on birdseed alone.

Why are cockatoos so smart?

Cockatoos are recognizable by the showy crests and curved bills. These extremely social birds have endearing personalities and great speaking abilities. As a part of their extreme intelligence, is their ability to imitate a wide variety of sounds and speech

Why you should get a cockatoo?

Cockatoos are very intelligent birds . They are observant and smart, even in everyday interactions. They can be friendly and outgoing with their owners. They have a lot of personality for such small birds.