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The Good the Bad and the Ugly about Large Cockatoos

jmfleish

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I have Reggie D2, one of the smaller 'toos but don't let his lack of grams fool you...he can outscream most M2s and U2s without even trying. He came from a pet store at the age of two and a half and hitting his first hormonal season. I did all the research, I BELIEVED everything they said about Ducorps' being more independent and less loud. I waited five months before I made the final choice to add him to my home and when I brought him home and heard him scream for the first time, I wanted to wilt onto the floor and cry a river, asking what I had done!

True, he loves to cuddle, he thinks I am the stars and the moon...but forget it if I leave the room...he could literally scream for hours and has in the past. He will scream until his little voice starts to give out. He came to me this way but I have yet to figure out a way to stop it and he's been with me for nearly 10 years now.

We won't even talk about all the bites that I have gotten over the years...he was much worse when he was younger and I do believe that he's growing into his hormones now at twelve...wow, he just turned 12 on March 15!:) I'm pretty sure he has no idea that he's a bird but thinks he's a little human who is my mate.

Around six, he started pulling, and I mean literally, pulling new pin feathers out. He's now fairly bald but I still love him. This is what happens when Cockatoos don't know they're Cockatoos. I'm lucky, he does not self mutilate, but I spent at least $3000 trying to figure out why he was plucking his beautiful feathers out and never got an answer other than the fact that he's crazy and perhaps that's all it is.

I love him with or without feathers and he will have a home with me until I am unable to care for him or someone comes along who I feel can do a better job which probably will not happen, but it might. I can assure you that you can do all the research in the world and nothing will prepare you for living with these very intelligent and very sensitive and emotional birds except living with them and so many people end up failing in that department. I think it takes a very special person to take on a Cockatoo and you need to do it knowing what you're going up against...they will push every button you have and then some.
 

Macawnutz

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oh my, cockatoos. I've only had one, an M2. my caleb is 11 years old. he comes from a questionable past. he is a plucker, he barbers, he self mutilates. He is a stereotypical adult male moluccan Cockatoo. Everything above pegs it perfectly. Dust? wow! the eraser analogy is perfect. Cuddly? oh ya,,, but then his MALE URGES hit.

My caleb hates and distrusts men. He hasnt the first flight feather, he snips them all off, but to go after my son he has LEAPED off the top of his cage and fell like a stone more than six feet! He will do anything he can to get to someone he feels is dangerous. He can leap. like the best NBA star! He was on the floor and leaped straight up to get my son's finger. He had a good 2 foot ground clearance from a straight leap up! Their leg muscles are just amazing.

Now my caleb may be ... um... 'concentrated' in his neurosis. But neurosis and cockatoo seems to go hand in hand most of the time. He has nervous habits, namely snipping his feathers off and chewing a hole in his chest. He considers his feathers just another toy. he will put down a fun shreddable wicker toy to snip off part of a feather to play with. To him its much like putting down a block to play with a ball.

a word about cages = HUGE. That's the best word i can come up with. my caleb cant tolerate a cage. i have a 48 x36 cage. It stands at least 5 feet tall. But its still too small for him. He now lives cage-free... well a hybrid version of cage free. He has his own bedroom. the cage is in there, but the only time the doors are closed is at nite while we all sleep. i think he takes comfort in that protection. he knows, no one can sneak up on him as he's sleeping. But he MUST have control of his life to be happy. By living cage free he has that control. He can choose to sit on the cage, play in the cage, hide under the cage, play in the corner, play in the middle of the room. He has CHOICES. if you've ever been truly helpless, with NO control of your life. it is the most frustrating feeling. and that's what he seems to feel when he's forced into a cage. He then turns his frustration on himself. So when shopping for a cage for a cockatoo, as soon as you find one big enough, go the next size up! And if you can manage it, a cage free option is so much better for them.

damage? wow! he's chewed holes in rubbermaid tubs, a drill case, numerous wall moldings, and even MY OLD TAX RETURNS! :eek: He is a one bird wood chipper. A lumber mill with feathers. he goes thru 5 times the wood that any of my other birds do, including a scarlet macaw.

They are truly amazing creatures, but not for the faint of heart. you must have patience, easy going nature, and above all a sense of humor. :heart:
I love this!!! And double the "sense of humor" needed. :rofl:
 

sodakat

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The points that John made about needing more space than a cage can provide and needing the companionship of one of their own species applies to every parrot I think. This is not unique to cockatoos.

I don't think most parrot owners are willing to provide either. It was interesting to me to read the same thing in Zuzanna's post about budgies:

Another thing is that they do better in pairs or groups. They are extremely sociable creatures and they´re wired instinctually and behaviorally to be part of a flock. Depriving them of a flock is, well, a little sad. Then again, a budgie will always choose another bird over you, so it might be disappointing (for you).
 

jmfleish

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The points that John made about needing more space than a cage can provide and needing the companionship of one of their own species applies to every parrot I think. This is not unique to cockatoos.

I don't think most parrot owners are willing to provide either. It was interesting to me to read the same thing in Zuzanna's post about budgies:

Another thing is that they do better in pairs or groups. They are extremely sociable creatures and they´re wired instinctually and behaviorally to be part of a flock. Depriving them of a flock is, well, a little sad. Then again, a budgie will always choose another bird over you, so it might be disappointing (for you).
I was thinking the same thing when I read about someone wanting to get a single Linnie. That idea makes me so sad because they seem to be even more prone to wanting to flock together than other birds. I do agree that the bigger birds seem to like friends of their own species sometimes but not always. I'm on the fence about getting a friend for Kishka. He wants so badly to be friends with Reggie but Reggie has decided that he no longer wants Kishka anywhere near him and actively goes after him. Neither one of my Ekkie boys seem to care a whole lot for each other but there does seem to be something there and they're both SIEs. The Amazons absolutely detest each other but I think that poor little Nibbles started out really wanting to befriend either one of the older two and they rebuffed her, so she no longer tries. And then there are the greys...yeah, we won't even go there! LOL!
 

sodakat

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I was thinking the same thing when I read about someone wanting to get a single Linnie. That idea makes me so sad because they seem to be even more prone to wanting to flock together than other birds. I do agree that the bigger birds seem to like friends of their own species sometimes but not always. I'm on the fence about getting a friend for Kishka. He wants so badly to be friends with Reggie but Reggie has decided that he no longer wants Kishka anywhere near him and actively goes after him. Neither one of my Ekkie boys seem to care a whole lot for each other but there does seem to be something there and they're both SIEs. The Amazons absolutely detest each other but I think that poor little Nibbles started out really wanting to befriend either one of the older two and they rebuffed her, so she no longer tries. And then there are the greys...yeah, we won't even go there! LOL!
The "goal" of all these good, bad, ugly threads is I think to help people make informed decisions when acquiring a parrot.

If a young bird is raised with another of the same species they are probably going to get along. Expecting a mature bird to accept a companion is iffy at best. Depends on the birds, IMO.

At the very least we can TEACH people what these birds need. They don't need to live thinking they are people.
 

cassiesdad

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oh my, cockatoos. I've only had one, an M2. my caleb is 11 years old. he comes from a questionable past. he is a plucker, he barbers, he self mutilates. He is a stereotypical adult male moluccan Cockatoo. Everything above pegs it perfectly. Dust? wow! the eraser analogy is perfect. Cuddly? oh ya,,, but then his MALE URGES hit.

My caleb hates and distrusts men. He hasnt the first flight feather, he snips them all off, but to go after my son he has LEAPED off the top of his cage and fell like a stone more than six feet! He will do anything he can to get to someone he feels is dangerous. He can leap. like the best NBA star! He was on the floor and leaped straight up to get my son's finger. He had a good 2 foot ground clearance from a straight leap up! Their leg muscles are just amazing.

Now my caleb may be ... um... 'concentrated' in his neurosis. But neurosis and cockatoo seems to go hand in hand most of the time. He has nervous habits, namely snipping his feathers off and chewing a hole in his chest. He considers his feathers just another toy. he will put down a fun shreddable wicker toy to snip off part of a feather to play with. To him its much like putting down a block to play with a ball.

a word about cages = HUGE. That's the best word i can come up with. my caleb cant tolerate a cage. i have a 48 x36 cage. It stands at least 5 feet tall. But its still too small for him. He now lives cage-free... well a hybrid version of cage free. He has his own bedroom. the cage is in there, but the only time the doors are closed is at nite while we all sleep. i think he takes comfort in that protection. he knows, no one can sneak up on him as he's sleeping. But he MUST have control of his life to be happy. By living cage free he has that control. He can choose to sit on the cage, play in the cage, hide under the cage, play in the corner, play in the middle of the room. He has CHOICES. if you've ever been truly helpless, with NO control of your life. it is the most frustrating feeling. and that's what he seems to feel when he's forced into a cage. He then turns his frustration on himself. So when shopping for a cage for a cockatoo, as soon as you find one big enough, go the next size up! And if you can manage it, a cage free option is so much better for them.

damage? wow! he's chewed holes in rubbermaid tubs, a drill case, numerous wall moldings, and even MY OLD TAX RETURNS! :eek: He is a one bird wood chipper. A lumber mill with feathers. he goes thru 5 times the wood that any of my other birds do, including a scarlet macaw.

They are truly amazing creatures, but not for the faint of heart. you must have patience, easy going nature, and above all a sense of humor. :heart:
Beth,you make an EXCELLENT point about the leaping abilities of 'toos. Milton has the leaping long jump down pat,also the leaping into flying onto your shoulder thing. The leaping long jump comes in handy (for Milty) when FOOD comes into his eyesight.
Even Cassie,my LSC, had "the leap" down. She would jump and leap at my wife, who she would attack when she came into the room with Cass.
 

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I guess living on the other side of the Pacific amidst a flock of 100+ Cockatoos means I get to see a little different perspective cockatoo dynamics. My recommendation to any prospective Cocky owner is examine yourself first. Examine your own likes and dislikes, not about birds, but about yourself and everyday life in general. Then, and only then, read about the traits of cockatoos. Match them up and see if there is a fit.

THE GOOD
1). If you are looking for an interactive bird then nothing, and I mean absolutely no other bird comes close to a cockatoo.
2). They are extremely intelligent and very capable and quick learners.*
3). They are highly sociable and therefore love to be in the thick of the action.*
4). A well raised and well socialised cockatoo will become a vital member of the household*
5). For a bird that has such a powerful beak, they can be extraordinarily gentle...this includes wild ones*
6). Extremely likeable and endearing personalities that love company and love to play.*
7). For the effort you put in, they will give you back tenfold more joy.*

THE BAD
1). Their intelligence means that they need to be kept busy. Foraging and chewable toys are an absolute must. Failure to do so will lead to behavioural issues.
2). Every cockatoo, even from the same species, are very different beings. No two
toos are alike. What applies to one may not necessarily apply to another.
3). If you insist on having one as a pet, then it needs to be socialised with all members of the household from an early age. If the cocky in question chooses a favourite person then the favourite needs to back off from the interaction somewhat, but not completely, and the other family members need to pick up the slack. Katster's Galah is a great example of a well socialised Galah.
4). Most species, but not all, are a flock bird and highly intelligent and will therefore be demanding of your time and attention. You become their flock and loneliness will lead to behavioural issues such as screaming, aggression and potentially plucking.
5). JLcribber once described cockatoos and jet-engine loud, he was not exaggerating. If you have low noise tolerance levels don't get one...period. I can hear the the local ones over a kilometre away and I still don't understand why anyone would want to bring that freaking noise into your house.
6). Noise volumes mean you need to think about your own living situation. If you live in an apartment block, don't get one...period. Please take the time to think about those other people in proximity to yourself.
7). If you love your furniture, books, photos, light fittings, etc, don't get one. Chewing behaviour is hard-wired into their gene pool when the egg is laid. You will not change it and these birds can be unbelievably destructive. Once they are fixated upon destroying something it is almost impossible to change it. Remember, what may take a cockatiel months to chew up and large cockatoo will destroy in seconds.
8). If you live in Australia, check with your local council regarding how their by-laws affect you. Many local governments prohibit the owning of loud birds such as cockatoos, macaws and sun conures.
9). Many species of cockatoo do not make good pets, especially upon reaching maturity. Major Mitchell's Cockatoo is a good example of this trait. Greater Sulphur-Cresteds and Galahs make awesome pets.
10). These birds have an extraordinarily long life span. With today's modern diets it is really unknown how long most parrots will live, but it is most likely that cockatoos will outlive ALL their owners.

SUMMARY
I love cockies, just love 'em...but personal examination of myself in areas such as noise tolerance and destruction means I could never keep one as a pet. Being the operations manager of construction company means many hours spent at the office or on site and any such cockatoo owned by me would never get the attention and time that they so desperately need. A well-raised and well-socialised cockatoo that gets a bucketload of attention from all family members will become indispensable member of that household. Katster's Dante and Vampstorso's Harvey are good examples of such birds. I feel very fortunate to be able to walk out the front or back door just a few steps and interact with the wild ones at home for 10-15 minutes here and there...and like John I believe that out in the wild is where these birds belong. Once again, I cannot emphasise it's importance enough: "Before buying any bird, examine yourself first and then examine the bird".
:)
 

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The fact that there are thousands upon thousands of adult cockatoos in rescues and sanctuaries attests to the fact that they can be difficult to live with. My friend has more adult male cockatoos, and more streaming in on a regular basis, than just about any other bird at her sanctuary. Large adult macaws are a close second. Great write ups everyone..
 
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jerseybella

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The Good the Bad and the Ugly about Cockatoos

I thought I would try to contribute. I don't have years and years of experience, and not with the big toos. I do have 2 G2s. Snowball is 5 and did not come from a good situation. Eddie is 3.
They are smart little suckers. I have come home many times and Eddie is running around the bird room. He doesn't do it often, but can and will unlock his cage. I've gotten lucky, nothing was damaged. They can be LOUD. If you have never heard a too scream, you have no clue. LOL. Snow is louder, and they scream together in delight. Always late at night :) My hope when I adopted Snow was that he and Eddie could be friends. That did not happen. The hate each other. I do think they somehow find comfort and happiness in knowing the other is there. They need a constant supply of toys, and that can be pricey. And the dust, the never ending dust.....it coats everything. I can dust in the morning, it's back by the evening. My two also don't care for my husband and daughter and will turn on a dime and nail them if they are not careful. Watch out if they get on the floor, Eddie will get nasty. Snowball still thinks the floor is lava but, that won't last forever. Not sure how helpful I was but, I gave it a shot.


You have to possess a certain amount of crazy to be owned by a cockatoo.
 

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Could it be that the success of keeping cockatoos is dependent on the owner, not the bird?
i think you can say that with any parrot.... or maybe any animal at all. But living with parrots seems require some specific character traits:
flexibility, the ole its my way or the highway attitude doesnt fly with a parrot.
mild manner, parrots respond to the energy in the home. if you're high strung, so will your parrot be.
ability to laugh off the little things, like when ya look over and see your parrot 'personalizing' grandma's antique Cuckoo clock. it takes a very special person to realize its not the bird's fault. and in the scheme of things, is it really earth shattering if the clock is missing a few splinters??
NOT a neat freak, parrots and mess go hand in hand. they are programmed to live in a FOREST (or field, whatever) NOT a livingroom. i spent the whole day scrubbing and before i had the chance to sit on the sofa with my soda, there was poop, grapes, and pellets on the floor.

i'm sure there's more, but those few things go a LONG way toward a successful relationship with a parrot.
 

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Could it be that the success of keeping cockatoos is dependent on the owner, not the bird?
Absolutely!! I'd also have to agree with Beth (tozie12), in that the sentiment can be stated for all species and all parrot guardians, along with most pets in general. I was unsuccessful as a Grey owner, but after finding them really good homes, taking a step back and almost a decade "off", I came back to birds. Not thinking that if things don't work out I can just "rehome" them again - so don't anyone dare think that! I got into it this "go around" with fully opened eyes and much more maturity than I had the first time. I would never recommend a large parrot for anyone in their late teens or early 20's. Too much happens during those years, and your maturity hasn't come quite up to snuff yet. Yes there are exceptions (aren't there always?) but for a general consensus, yeah. They aren't meant for the "young" ones, which is amusing considering that if you get a baby Too in your 30's or 40's, they're going to outlive you!

As already stated earlier, it's hard to put into words what it's like to have a large Too (or any Too, for that matter). It's not easily described. And what one person thinks is "bad", another may just say is "normal" and that you just have to learn how to live with it.
 

jake&kiwi'smom

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This was very interesting to read!!!! As here soon I will be getting my Molly a baby U2:heart:. She should be coming home in about a week or so.:dance4: I'm so excited but yet nervous at the same time. I would like to know what type of toys are the best to get or make.? She will have a huge cage.... AND brothers and sisters BFA.. Sun conure.. Brown throat conure.. cockatiel ... 3 dogs and a cat ! Anything else I need to do or get ect.. She will be weened on to Zupreem but I feed all mine Lefberers
 

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A double macaw cage is recommended. But a cagd with inside dimensions of 48"Lx 36" wide and 4-5ft inside height will be an ok size cage.

Macaw size toys good for an adult. As a baby they need 1/2" wood or smaller. I recommend an Stainless Steel Skewer and refill it often with thin wood along with brightly colored plastic toys and such. Cockatoos NEED foot toys! Human baby toys do nicely :)
 

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How old will she be?

I remember about 2-3 months ago you first posted about her. If she is less than 6 month old she will need to be handfed still when you get her. Comfort feed her oatmeal mashed with cooked sweet potatoe and squash and formula :)
 

jake&kiwi'smom

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How old will she be?

I remember about 2-3 months ago you first posted about her. If she is less than 6 month old she will need to be handfed still when you get her. Comfort feed her oatmeal mashed with cooked sweet potatoe and squash and formula :)
She hatched in dec. And started to eat on her own these past few weeks. the person im getting her from wont let her go till she is eating good on her own.. she said that she isnt taking much formula now
 

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Well that's because she is going through the fledgling stage. When you get her she will most likely cry and want feedings. There is no way a u2 isfully weaned by 4 months of age.

When all birds go through the fledgling stage they dont beg for much. But as soon as they're done going through that that stage its best to expect it then to shove the most possible thing that happens, aside:)
 
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