Cockatoo species commonly kept as pets in the United States include umbrella cockatoos, Moluccan cockatoos, sulphur crested cockatoos, rose breasted cockatoos, Goffin’s cockatoos, bare eyed cockatoos, and Ducorp’s cockatoos. In Australia collections may also include the various species of black cockatoos, Major Mitchell’s Cockatoos and Gang Gangs.
Cockatoo characteristics can vary greatly within this diverse group.
Cockatoos are typically thought of as a group of parrots quite receptive to touch. In many cases this seems to be true. This is particularly noticeable with the larger species, the umbrella and Moluccan cockatoo. Some individuals of the smaller species may also respond favorably to touch. But it most often the large white or light pink birds pictured snuggled in the arms of their caregivers.
The smaller cockatoos have other features about them that make them quite captivating. They often move quickly and have a propensity to learn fast as well. This fast moving, quick learning type of cockatoo can keep a trainer on their toes! (Of course this does seem to apply to the larger slender billed and western corellas as well) A great DVD to help you get started training with a cockatoo is “Parrot Behavior and Training. An Introduction to Training”
If a cockatoo learns to talk, it is often in a high pitched rather sweet sounding voice. This can be much more appealing than the loud vocalizations these birds are capable of producing.
Interesting Cockatoo Facts and Quirks:
Some species of cockatoos are known for producing copious amounts of dust. This dust is the result of special feathers called powder down. These feathers are constantly breaking off into tiny bits that coat the bird with powder. This actually contributes to “waterproofing” the bird. Try spraying a powdery umbrella cockatoo with water and you can watch droplets of water bead up and roll off the birds back. For some other parrot species, such as blue and gold macaws exposure to this dust can create respitory problems.
Some species of cockatoos are considered pests in Australia. They have a reputation for destroying crops.
Different cockatoo species are adapted for different feeding styles. In the wild some spend the majority of their time on the ground foraging and eating grass shoots. Others are arboreal. Some specialize in eating very specific food items.
The palm cockatoo has an interesting behavior in which it will grab a stick with its foot and smack a hollowed out log. This drumming is thought to be a territorial display. Palm cockatoos will also quickly stamp a foot on the perch when agitated.
Rose breasted cockatoos are known as galahs in Australia. This word is now part of colloquial language in Australia and is used when referring to someone as a fool or idiot.
Video of wild bare eyed cockatoos also known as little corellas