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Is a red-tailed black cockatoo possible for a beginner to succeed with?

Is this species too difficult for a first?

  • No matter how much research has been done, yes.

    Votes: 7 38.9%
  • For most people, yes.

    Votes: 4 22.2%
  • With adequate knowledge of what you're getting in to, no.

    Votes: 7 38.9%

  • Total voters
    18

HEXN3T

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95EB8233-A3CE-4D5A-BCB8-DC3198D1A181.jpeg
This is Zelda, a red-tailed black cockatoo at Parrot Mountain in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Here she is, being spoiled.

This was around 5 days ago, and it was my second visit to the place. Her behaviour was remarkably different compared to several months ago. When I visited in August of 2020, she was really feisty and nippy. Now, she is very tame and obedient. I could get her up and down, and also pet her without getting bitten. She's really sweet, honestly.

I have never owned a parrot, but I'm no stranger to their behaviour. I've been doing quite a lot of research for the past 2 years, so I think it's about time I prepared for getting one. Any further reading is just redundant, now.

I would really like to get a red-tailed black cockatoo. I have jumped between a lot of different species (Scarlet macaw, green winged macaw, mollucan cockatoo, congo african grey, hawk-headed parrot which was an absolute nope, and now this), I feel like this is the one though.

The main appeal I see is the moderate size and the contrast between the furniture in my home and the colour of the parrot. Pin feathers will be easier to spot and get out compared to the usual white cockatoo. The larger size compared to a budgie yields less frequent poops and slower flight and movement. Quick movement makes me too anxious that something could go wrong.

It's a really nice balance between large and small. I won't need an outrageous amount of real estate for it, but I won't have to check under the towels constantly.

Since it's larger, it should potty less often and movement should generally be slower than small parrots. Fly slower, move their head slower, walk slower, grow slower. I like to have a little more time to think. I feel like size and difficulty have too strong a correlation. Smaller isn't always easier. Big things aren't always scary. Small and large both have pros and cons.

And, yes, I want a cool-looking parrot. I'm sorry, but I'm a sucker for black and gold. Look at my phone. It's black and gold. I'm also a black and red sucker, and take a look at the male. Guess what? It's perfect.

It's shocking that this species is described as tame. Most "flashy" parrots are the extra-aggressive ones, but these ones seem to grow to be sweet with the right owner. Its price doesn't seem too dissimilar to other cockatoos, either.

Also, challenge is what I need. Challenge has always pushed me to do better. Difficulty gets my creative mind working. For the past few years, I've lacked that challenge, and I have felt miserable compared to when I was young.

I have a neighbour who owns a blue-throated macaw. He describes that the difficulty has helped him grow as a person. He also said that despite the difficulty, parrots are really fun to live with. That mutualism between me and an animal is what I need, and I need more fun in my life. Animals have always made me happier.

The biggest problem is my dog, Vanta. He's really sweet. My concern is not him getting hostile, but that he'll try to lick it. That's unlikely to happen with proper training, anyway. It's like keeping him off of my allergic mother, just with a parrot now. It's a process he has already been through. I will keep them as separated as possible initially, and slowly get them sharing the same spaces. I will never leave them in the same place unattended, though.

That's the biggest problem I could find, so this may be a cakewalk.

I really understand the predator risk, but if you met my dog, you'd know it wouldn't be a problem. He has been at ground level with parrots before, and he has always left them alone. The most aggression he has shown against another parrot is the umbrella cockatoo barking contest from 5 days ago. He has absolutely no predator in him. He's a pathetic jumper, too.

8F3BE83D-51D2-49F8-A7B9-A4462C1C91C3.jpeg
Lazy and sleepy, a real dog. I couldn't trade this one for anything.

But, regardless, I only have articles to read. Zelda (and Link, a male one) are the only red-tailed black cockatoos I have ever seen (and also held, and I felt really comfortable with both of them on me, I shouldn't be biting more than I can chew). No parrot will perfectly allign with its behaviour description. Information about them may be false. I also have to actually find one of these, not to mention.

I might be ranting, or rambling, or something else, but the life-changing experience is exactly what I'm looking for. I'm trying to keep this post neat and clear. Other people I have asked about harder parrots only talked down to me without considering the effort I'm putting in. I know this is no beginner parrot, but I will seek professionals to make sure I'm ready. I want to get across that I'm taking this opportunity very seriously. If this post looks jumbled, it's because I'm scared to get more of the same responses that I got on other forums. They were super hostile.

I don't want to be viewed as some guy that is trying to get a parrot to pluck out all of its feathers out of stress. I've only had one guy help me out so far. Super friendly, described a hyacinth macaw that he experienced, and sent a video of it cracking open a macadamia nut as if it were a grape.

I just want opinions. Do I really need to start small with three parrots to select from, or am I perfectly capable of raising a red-tailed black cockatoo if I'm prepared?

My name's Josh, I'm a minor and live in Kentucky. I'm looking to get a parrot next summer, in 2022. It should be plenty of time.

I'll answer any questions you have to the best of my ability. Thanks for discussion in advance.
 
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Sparkles99

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The main appeal I see is the moderate size and the contrast between the furniture in my home and the colour of the parrot.
This isn't a good reason. I think all of the black cockatoos are on the CITES lists, so if you managed to get one, you'd be stuck not being able to move with your bird.

He has absolutely no predator in him.
All dogs have predator in them. I'd plan on keeping them in separate areas of the home.

Edited to add that having one would also make you & your family a target for thieves.
 

flyzipper

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Welcome to the forum Josh, and thanks for the interesting read.

I don't want to test your parrot ability as that can all be learned, but I will share something about myself as a young adult and what the next 10 years looked like for me:
  • left home for university
  • moved into my own apartment
  • worked part time
  • bought a house (with help from parents)
  • lost the house when interest rates rose to 12%
  • dropped out of school
  • moved in with friends
  • lost a job
  • got another job
  • rented a townhouse on my own
  • started a 9-5 career which required me to be on-call
  • had a few relationships
  • played sports and worked out up to 6 days per week
  • moved in to a house with a woman
  • got married
What I'm sharing is that young adult me, didn't expect many of those things, and that foundation of instability isn't ideal for a parrot companion. That decade, between 18 and 28, is notoriously full of change for most.

You don't need to share it here, but I'd encourage you to think about what your next 10 years might look like as you build your own life.
 
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FiatLux

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Hi Josh. I’m really impressed with the thoughtfulness and research in your post, especially since you’re a minor. There are many highly knowledgeable and kind people on this forum who will take the time to engage with your post —and that will include helping you push through some of the things that only experience can teach. I’m new so I cannot be one of those people but I just wanted to affirm the effort you’re putting into this and the passion you have for this endeavor. Wishing you all the best. I’m tagging the people I know on here who can possibly help though I know there are many others too.
@flyzipper @Mizzely @Sparkles!
 
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FiatLux

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Welcome to the forum Josh, and thanks for the interesting read.

I don't want to test your parrot ability as that can all be learned, but I will share something about myself at 17 and what the next 10 years looked like for me:
  • left home for university
  • moved into my own apartment
  • worked part time
  • bought a house (with help from parents)
  • lost the house when interest rates rose to 12%
  • dropped out of school
  • moved in with friends
  • lost a job
  • got another job
  • rented a townhouse on my own
  • started a 9-5 career which required me to be on-call
  • had a few relationships
  • played sports and worked out up to 6 days per week
  • moved in to a house with a woman
  • got married
What I'm sharing is that 17 year old me, didn't expect many of those things, and that foundation of instability isn't ideal for a parrot companion.

You don't need to share it here, but I'd encourage you to think about what your next 10 years might look like as you build your own life.
@flyzipper and I crossed posts but his response proves my point.
 

sunnysmom

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I think the best thing you can do at your age is to get more parrot experience. Is there a place that you can volunteer? Work? You are clearly a mature, thoughtful, young person. That said, are you ready for a toddler? Because that's what a parrot, especially a cockatoo is. And a toddler for the next 40-60 years? There is no way I could have taken on a cockatoo at your age. That's not saying that there aren't teenagers that can't. But even now as an adult, I sometimes struggle with the time and attention demands of my goffin cockatoo. If you want to go to college, travel, etc, I would say definitely wait. You are only young once and should take advantage of that time of minimum responsibility. But during that time you can nurture your interest in birds, definitely. As to your actual question, I don't believe in "starter birds". Everyone should get the bird they want from the get go provided they understand all that it entails. (Also, I would never let any dog near any parrot.)
 

MR. Mango

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Couple of Key Points
the price is really high like at the lowest 20,000 and above,
they're incredibly rare and you might be scammed, plus you'll most likely have to use a broker
it will outlive you, (life span can reach 80-120 yrs)
you won't be able to move due to CITES,
will need a class 2 CITES Lisence
will need a really thorough security system,
need to be prepared for marriage and kids, and since you are a minor what would happen if you want to pursue higher education?
Can you afford THOUSANDS of dollars per month on high quality food, toys, vet care, security, and the aviary?
 
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~Drini~

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I'm in my third year of college. I have 2 green cheek conures, who haven't been able to live with me at college for most of the time because I had to live in dorms. They stay with my family, and I care for them from a distance (have a nanny cam that I check several times a day and regularly have toys and foods delivered for them, and I'm lucky that my family is pretty involved with them). I'm most lucky that they are green cheek conures and not anything more demanding, because my family would have not been able to cope with the set-up we currently have. I'm very eagerly waiting the moment when I can have them permanently live with me.

What I mean to say is that it does not matter how much effort you put in or how much you learn. You can be the most prepared person in the world, and it won't matter a bit. The fact is that you don't have autonomy yourself (restricted by money, responsibilities, family, the unknown, etc.), so you cannot care for such a needy animal properly. Wait until more of your life is in your hands.
 
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tka

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I'm a university lecturer ("professor" in the UK is a very senior academic) and I'd also caution against making such a big decision now. As @flyzipper said, the next decade of your life is going to be unpredictable: you will almost certainly move out of your parents' home and start living independently.

As an example, between the ages of 18 and 30, I:

- lived in three different cities
- lived in my parents' house, a university halls of residence, four shared houses, one studio flat and one 1-bedroom flat
- attended two universities and obtained a BA, an MA and a PhD
- visited lots of parts of the UK, Germany, Italy, Greece, India and the US (work, seeing family, holidays)
- had three long-term relationships, all with people who lived in different cities to me
- had a few jobs - everything from restaurants/bartending to teaching undergraduates to freelance editing. My restaurant jobs would last past midnight; my invigilation job required me to be on site by 7:45am.
- co-ran a student radio station, DJed at a friend's clubnight and did an internship with a national radio station
- did a lot of LGBTQ+ support and training, including consultancy work with national companies
- performed in a theatre group at the Edinburgh Fringe

I like to think that I did some cool things, had a lot of experiences, and generally did a lot in those years. I emerged in my thirties as someone who can roll with things, isn't fazed by much and can keep a cool head. All of these things made me a much better companion to my parrot.

You haven't said whether you plan to go to university, but I teach undergraduate students and very few of them are in a position to care for a parrot. They simply don't have the money or the time: they're working and their jobs may have unpredictable or antisocial hours, they're studying, they have a tight budget and have to plan their spending very carefully.

A lot of people in their early twenties rent housing either alone or with other people. Housemates may not take kindly to living with a bird, and I've lived with some people that I wouldn't trust in the same house as my bird. Very few of the landlords accepted pets. Even fewer will accept a large, loud, destructive pet. If you want a big cockatoo, I think you have to own your own home.

Birds are expensive, both in the initial outlay for housing, playstand, toys, disinfectant, food and the bird itself and the monthly costs. You can make bird toys but you still need to buy parts. They require a quality pelleted diet, good quality nuts, fresh vegetables and fruit, something that can be tricky on a tight budget. Big birds are going to eat more and require a LOT more space - for a large cockatoo, you're really looking at a dedicated bird room rather than a cage. Cockatoos are smart and require a lot of toys to destroy and to keep their minds active. A bored cockatoo is miserable and you have to resign yourself to the fact that you're going to spend a lot of money on toys that your bird will promptly turn into toothpicks.

Sick birds require the services of a specialist avian vet - they are so fragile and go downhill so fast that you cannot wait and see if something clears up on its own or attempt to treat them at home.

The next decade of your life is going to involve lots of changes, many of which you may not be able to predict. You've got to think about what's fair on both you and a potential bird. It's not fair on a bird if you're unable to spend time with it or can't afford vet treatment. Equally, it's not fair on you to miss out on rewarding, enjoyable and/or valuable things or potential careers because you're responsible for a being with toddler level needs.

This probably isn't what you wanted to hear. I hope you will accept it in the spirit in which it's meant - I think you might make a fine parrot servant one day, but embrace the experiences you will have as a young adult. It will make you a more rounded and more fulfilled person.
 
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The_Mayor

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Sorry, I'm a newbie bird caretaker so I don't have any advice, but I was fascinated by your mention of Parrot Mountain. It sounds like a really cool place to visit and get to see some really interesting birds.
 

Hankmacaw

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They price of the Red Tailed Black Cockatoo runs from $18,000 - $25,000. I sure didn't have that kind of money at 17, 18 or even 40. The price itself should keep you out of the market - unless you are independently wealthy or have parents who spoil you terribly.

Your comment about the colors of the bird matching your decor was terribly insulting to me.
 

Greylady1966

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I don't understand the need to have a certain color of parrot. I believe someone was on the forum that wanted to breed parrots to get a purple one. I would volunteer if your able, not only will you learn things you'll be helping a good cause.
 

GoDucks

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I am getting mixed messages when I google this bird. One site says that they are rare and therefore nobody outside of a zoo, maybe, can own them as a pet. Another site says you can own one as long as you have a class one bird license.
I know that they are more docile and less spoiled then the white cockatoos, but the cost alone would be a de-swaying factor for me.
 

Shezbug

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I am getting mixed messages when I google this bird. One site says that they are rare and therefore nobody outside of a zoo, maybe, can own them as a pet. Another site says you can own one as long as you have a class one bird license.
I know that they are more docile and less spoiled then the white cockatoos, but the cost alone would be a de-swaying factor for me.
Could be that you’re getting hits for one of the rarer ones?

 

Mizzely

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Sorry for the late reply!

I think it is super awesome you found a bird species you like! It's too bad it's one that is pretty hard to get ahold of on short notice in the US (and yes, a year is short notice for this type of bird).

I do not believe in starter birds; we should get the species we want - as long as we are truly confident in our abilities. I LOVE all of the black cockatoos, but they are above my ability to care for them. Mind you I am 35, married, have 2 kids, and my own home. So I am pretty settled - just not able to give a cockatoo the space, time, and money required.

No one knows your financial situation; if you are able to foot the bill for this bird maybe you have inheritance or have a startup or something - anything is possible these days! I know I was not that financially secure before I was....30? :lol:

It's not just about the bird, but about your own development that you need to consider. I remember back in High School I thought I had it all figured out and nothing has gone that way at all :p I woudn't change any of it, but it definitely reminded me that even when we are legally adults, we really are still growing. It would have been really hard for me to have to choose between a bird and dating, or kids, or moving, or taking a job.
 

Pat H

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@flyzipper and I crossed posts but his response proves my point.
First of all--- WELCOME to the Avenue! They are a BUNCH of Bird-Loving, thoughtful, considerate [that includes our feathered 'persons'], and COMPASSIONATE people...

@flyzippers comment faced the reality of ... REALITY!!! No Where NEAR Super-Hostile... Those were not the ramblings of an inconsiderate person or were attempting to demean you-- Instead, AS WE ALL MUST/ SHOULD DO... we put our birds FIRST-- We are THEIR caretakers-- those who cage innocent living beings. Though they might eventually be in charge of our lives!

Q-- Have you been around Cockatoos in a home environment? I don't know if the Black C.'s personality is similar to our Umbrella's... but ours is a BABY! Complete w/ 'selfish' needs. Or thinks she needs. They are FILLED w/ emotions! And memory. I used to tell people BEFORE they bought a Cockatoo--- expect to 'chain yourself' to their cage! ie-- they are NOT a once a day 'blow 'em a kiss' and feed them...

I truly respect the interest and research you have clearly attempted and accomplished! Proud to have you in the bird parent flock [or soon to be]...
 

GoDucks

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First of all--- WELCOME to the Avenue! They are a BUNCH of Bird-Loving, thoughtful, considerate [that includes our feathered 'persons'], and COMPASSIONATE people...

@flyzippers comment faced the reality of ... REALITY!!! No Where NEAR Super-Hostile... Those were not the ramblings of an inconsiderate person or were attempting to demean you-- Instead, AS WE ALL MUST/ SHOULD DO... we put our birds FIRST-- We are THEIR caretakers-- those who cage innocent living beings. Though they might eventually be in charge of our lives!

Q-- Have you been around Cockatoos in a home environment? I don't know if the Black C.'s personality is similar to our Umbrella's... but ours is a BABY! Complete w/ 'selfish' needs. Or thinks she needs. They are FILLED w/ emotions! And memory. I used to tell people BEFORE they bought a Cockatoo--- expect to 'chain yourself' to their cage! ie-- they are NOT a once a day 'blow 'em a kiss' and feed them...

I truly respect the interest and research you have clearly attempted and accomplished! Proud to have you in the bird parent flock [or soon to be]...

The black ones are not anywhere near in personalty of the white cockatoos. They really shouldn't even be sharing the same name. The black ones are much more laid back and not clingy at all. But leave it to us to make them that way.
And yes, I have an umbrella as well. :)
 
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