Everything You Never Wanted To Know About Cockatoos! (And why they won’t tell you)
“I want a bird that is cuddly!” ( Oh God , Here we go again… ) Most people not familiar with large parrots don’t see the “Big” picture… They see an exotic colorful creature that they think would be a nice pet/ decoration/conversation piece. However, like a childless couple that THINK they know what having children would be like, (but don’t really have a clue until they’ve arrived), many parrot owners find out the hard way also! Yes, they’re wonderful and smart and entertaining! But depending on the species, a parrot can also take up more time, cause more aggravation, and completely drive you nuts in a matter of weeks! That’s why there are so many Parrot Rescue’s out there! Is it the birds fault? Absolutely not! It’s the owners fault for buying something that he or she hasn’t researched thoroughly! ( and they WILL suffer the consequences! )
Right up front… I don’t think large cockatoos should be kept for 90 years in a cage. These majestic creatures deserve to be free as God intended. Now, that not withstanding I know its just not gonna happen. You can plead “conservation” till you’re blue in the face, but real conservation means setting free no matter the final outcome. But as long as there’s a buck to be made, somebody’s going to make it. So with that in mind, I can only hope to make the lives of these wonderful creatures a little better for the long time that they may depend on man for their very lives AND sanity.
OK….HERE WE GO You and your wife (or if you’re single) work everyday, but you’d like a nice bird. One that will sit on your hand, and maybe even talk. You then are looking at something like a Cockatiel or Quaker Parrot. They don’t mind too much that you’re gone all day, and don’t need a great deal of attention. But lets say you’ve walked into a pet store (bad idea to start with) and see a beautiful Moluccan Cockatoo First you pay a very high price, ($2500. And up) and a few months later find that the bird has plucked out all of his feathers! He’s no longer beautiful! And much worse than that, your new pet is screaming the loudest screams that you’ve ever heard in your life! Your neighbors are now complaining!!! And YOU wonder what went wrong!
In the case of a large Cockatoo, I’ll tell you: Consider them as children and you START to get the big picture. You wouldn’t lock a child in a cage and go to work, and so neither do you leave large Cockatoos alone every day! I recommend that someone be home most of the time before you even consider owning a Cockatoo. They are the most emotional of all the species. In return for the “cuddles” that you were after, you will be required to return the favor by spending LOTS of time with them!
Now, why are they like children? Because we don’t allow them to be birds! We don’t provide the large outdoor aviaries that they really need. We don’t keep the environment that allows them to not bond with us SO tight that they go crazy when we’re gone. These birds attach themselves so rapidly to humans, that they have earned the name “Velcro Birds”. Why? Because when all they have is that super intelligent brain and YOU… cooped up in that house with YOU… languishing in that cage with just YOU to look at… Then its YOU who must provide all of the birds entertainment and interaction needs. This is why MOST people should never own one. Because if you can’t provide the above, you are making a child monster. And that child is gonna be 2 years old for ever.
But I digress…. Not only that, but they must have LOTS of EXPENSIVE TOYS (unless you make your own as I sometimes do) to keep them busy! They must also have a very large cage. That will set you back around $800.00 or more! (Never ever attempt to stuff a large ‘Too in a small cage) A cockatoo really needs an aviary, not just a cage. Then there’s the Cockatoo dust, lots of it! Do you or anyone in your family have allergies? Wrong bird! And preening ‘Toos have very long feathers on their heads that they can’t reach. If you only have one ‘Too, plan on preening his head every few days. Then there’s your CHILDREN! Cockatoos normally don’t like small children! I have seen otherwise “normal” cockatoos attack small children for no reason. Is it because the children are fast or flighty? Is it their voice or mannerisms? I don’t know the answer to this. All I know is that even if your cockatoo (or any parrot) is nice to your kids, NEVER allow them near your kids faces without complete supervision… and even then you are taking a chance. Plastic surgery is not something you want to put your child through!
HOW ABOUT FOOD? No Not Not seeds! YOU COOK FOR THEM! That’s right! Green beans and corn and carrots and (insert any vegetable here) and brown beans and rice and the list goes on and on. Then there’s the Avian pellets and monkey chows….fruits and nuts and so forth. Get the picture?
But as I said earlier, most important is the TIME that you must spend with them! You have to take them out every day (several times a day usually) and PLAY with them! Just like a child! Do you have the time? Please keep in mind that I’m talking about large Cockatoos here. Other Parrots are quite different. Do the research on several types.
NOW…. ASK YOURSELF THESE QUESTIONS
- Owning a bird can cost money. Food, toys, and vets can soon add up. Do you HAVE an avian vet in your area?
- Many birds go through a period of adjustment. They may bite, or just avoid you altogether. Do you have the patience to deal with this without getting discouraged? It can take a long time if the birds been abused.
- A parrot can live from 10 to 90 years. It can be a LIFETIME pet. Are you ready for this? And what will happen to the bird when you die?
- When you go away on vacation, who will care for the bird? Many people are afraid of large parrots. What if the bird gets out of its cage? Can they handle that?
- Do you have the TIME to devote to the bird? Will you be able to play with it everyday….and maybe let it safely fly? Will the bird have more room than just its cage? Be aware however, “T” stands and ‘Toos don’t mix, as they are MUCH too active to sit on a stand. As soon as you leave the room, they are OUTTA THERE!
- Do you have room for a LARGE cage? And what about the droppings here and there? Mind a little damage now and then to things in your home? It WILL happen!
- Is anyone in your family allergic to feathers… and in the case of Cockatoos, lots of dust? (How do you think they stay so white?)
- Do you have other pets in the house? Will they get along with your bird and vice versa? Cats can kill a bird just with its saliva. Are you willing to risk that?
- Parrots are normally very shy of small children and I don’t recommend giving large parrots to children period! But if you DO give a child a pet bird, are YOU willing to take responsibility if the child gets BIT or gets tired of the bird? Its YOUR fault if that happens.
- Forget everything you know about pets when it comes to birds. Many birds are just as EMOTIONAL as humans. Can you deal with this? Can you deal with your husband., wife.. kids? If not, better steer clear!
Read it! Live it! Believe it! Last Warning!!! Some bird owners will look at this page as being overly negative….
I’m trying not to be…. But people call and e-mail me every week with the same story: “I had NO idea of what I was getting into!”. They tell me that their birds are constantly screaming or plucking out their feathers… or WORSE
Please people…ft breaks my heart to see the end results of what can happen when a person doesn’t have a clue. And I know that after all of this, It may be hard to convince you that Parrots are the most wonderful animals on earth. But they ARE or CAN be…. Its up to you. Please be careful in selecting your pet. Do this, and I guarantee a LIFETIME of love and devotion….
In Closing: If you have lots of time, a little patience, and plenty of love, a large Parrot will repay your kindness many times over….And you will never look at “birds” the same ever again. They are after all, WONDERFUL!
“If you want a pretty bird to sit in a cage buy a Finch”
Reprinted from The Cockatoo Web Page with permission.