Cockatoos

Cockatoos have names like Sugar, Honey, Peaches, Angel, etc to describe their sweet, interactive natures. They also have names like Napoleon, Kaiser, Caesar, etc to depict their strength and majesty. Another name would be Houdini for the bird’s incredible talents and escape artistry. With such diversity you must know that the companion cockatoo has a reputation for being as unpredictable as springtime in the Rockies.


Many things set cockatoos apart from other birds and from other parrots. Especially, cockatoos are among the only birds with a mobile crest, rather than a crest that merely identifies species or gender. A cockatoo can completely cover its beak with the facial fan feathers. Cockatoos can express extremely complex emotions with those head and facial feathers. Common companion cockatoos come mostly in white with pastels, the most common Australian species being mostly white with various shades of yellow crests. Breaking from the mold are the pink cockatoos: the rose-breasted, the Goffin’s, and the Moluccan. The crests of the various species of cockatoos are said to be recumbent or recurve. The most common crest, the recumbent crest such as that of the Goffin’s cockatoo, lies flat on the head when not in use. The recurve crest, like that of the sulphur-crested cockatoos, sweeps back up and away from the back of the head. Cockatoos have soft body feathers covered with powder, which is an indication of good health. Cockatoos have large, strong beaks and sensitive, expressive faces. Most companion cockatoos love bathing, including human supplied showers. Cockatoos are frequently known to make and use tools: sticks for scratching and tapping and displays for mates. They are (serially) monogamous, although perhaps not sexually exclusive. The male parent takes an active part in the rearing of offspring. Although most cockatoos are known more for cuddling than for talking, there are certainly some outstanding talkers in the bunch. Although they are not generally extremely verbal, many cockatoos - perhaps most cockatoos - can be loud, at least occasionally. Cockatoos are known sometimes even to scream in the dark. Cockatoos have an incredible penchant for acrobatics and they have a stunning mechanical ability. Cockatoos love all kinds of simple mechanical devices: nuts and bolts, and carabiners, including many cage door-fastening devices. Young cockatoos, especially fledglings, need endless hours of activity each day in order to eat properly and sleep enough. The cockatoo bite has the potential to be the most penetrating of all parrot bites, because most cockatoo beaks possess three very pronounced points: one on the maxilla (upper mandible or beak) and two on each side of a razor sharp chisel-shaped cutting edge on the mandible (lower beak). Not only are the beaks relatively large, they are often very sharp. A cockatoo beak can puncture the skin in three places and slash with the lower mandible all in one movement. Fortunately, most domestic cockatoos are lovers, not fighters. Although some cockatoos may be absolutely trustworthy regarding bites, this varies with age and with individuals. This family has been called emotionally incontinent. Like most exotics, most sexually mature cockatoos are pretty dispositionally uneven and may exhibit frequent or occasional aggression. This will usually show itself in a cycle twice yearly, spring and fall. This may or may not be gender-related, with males being the most combative in most, but not all, species. I have seen some very aggressive cockatoo hens and some very docile cocks. Cockatoos are sometimes called codependent because of the extremely strong bonds they can form, sometimes rendering them totally emotionally and behaviorally dependent on a chosen human. This can lead to attention-demanding and other neurotic behaviors, as the bird may seek to fulfill its desire for 100 percent control over the favored human, or the bird might react to a realization of lock of control. A cockatoo that is addicted to attention can drive humans crazy. The same bird can go crazy if it does not get the attention it demands. In addition to the large amounts of powder produced, the cockatoos' loud voices and frequency of using those loud voices make them prime candidates for failure in their first homes. It’s easy to underestimate how much that powder and voice will affect all members of the family, and human incompatibility with cockatoos can destroy families as loyalties are formed, reformed, and broken. Caging requirements for a cockatoo are great. We recommend either the Animal Environments Cockatoo cage or the Macaw cage. The larger species must have especially strong welds and bars, as these birds love to exercise their huge, strong beaks on the cage, and the insubstantial cage will simply be dismantled. Because of their extreme curiosity and mechanical ability, cockatoos cannot be left alone outside a well-designed cage or bird-proofed environment. Cockatoos most commonly lose their homes because of their loud voices. The voice of a cockatoo can carry well beyond most city lopt limits; indeed, the voice of a cockatoo might offend someone down the block. If a cockatoo is still in order, maybe a rose-breasted cockatoo would work out.


Cockatoos that are not hung up on human stroking and are independent enough to play long periods of each day by themselves make the best long-term pets.


We recommend cockatoos to people with a great appreciation for playfulness, a love of nature, and a tolerance for the ebb and flow of destructive possessions. We recommend cockatoos to those who are willing to take great care designing their bird’s environment for behavioral effect.


When buying or adop[ting a cockatoo, be sure to check for powder on the feathers by rubbing a broad feather between thumb and forefinger. If a particular cockatoo has no easily observable powder on the feathers, not buy it without a full veterinary workup to ensure that it does not have Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease (PBFD), an incurable disease that can be communicated to other birds.


Australian cockatoos are a diverse gre family Psittacidae, subfamily Cacaotuinae, and members of two distinct groups, the Cacatuini and the Calopsittacini. The Cacatuini Group contains all genera of cockatoos except one and consists of Probosciger (Palm Cockatoo), Calyptorhynchus (Black Cockatoos), Callocephalon (Gang Gang), Eolophus (Galah), Cacatua (all white and near white species of cockatoos). The Calopsittacini group contains one genera, Nymphicus, which in turn has only one species Nymphicus hollandicus (Cockatiel). The Cacatuinae are physically distinguished from other psittacines by their crest and the ability to raise or lower it when excited or agitated. Powder down patches are prominent in their feathering and the feather barbs lack the structural requirements to reflect the necessary light to produce the colors usually seen in psittacines. The Cacatuini group are all large solid birds with large strong beaks and broad square or rounded tails. Calopsittacini is a small slender bird with a long tapered tail and the ability to lower the normally erected crest. Probosciger is a monotypic genus (one member) distinguished by long narrow curved crest feathers, large red bare skin cheek patches, exceptionally large mandibles, bare thighs, a feathered cere and sexes are alike. Calyptorhynchus are large dark colored birds with banded tails. They have varying length shell-shaped crests, bare eye rings and cere, large strong mandibles and varying degrees of sexual dimorphism (sexes differ in appearance). Callocephalon is a monotypic genus containing a smaller distinctive cockatoo with an unusual filmy overflowing crest that curves forward, short thick legs, large strong curved beak, covered cere and pronounced sexual dimorphism. Eolophus is another monotypic genus containing a smaller cockatoo with distinctive pink and grey plumage, short shell-shaped crest, a pronounced naked eye ring, feathered cere, medium sized strong beak and slight sexual dimorphism. Cacatua is an extensive genus of predominantly white or pale-colored cockatoos. They range from small to large sized cockatoos with varying shell to fan-shaped crests, short square tails, long wings, large strong beaks, bare eye rings, predominantly feathered ceres and sexes are alike in most species, although there is slight sexual dimorphism in some. Nymphicus is a monotypic genus containing a very small slender cockatoo with a long upright pointed crest, parakeet-like feet, naked cere, small but powerful beak and marked sexual dimorphism. Representatives of al genera are found in Australia including 13 of the 20 species recognized throughout the world.


Can two different genera breed and thus make hybrids? Does this justify the name cockatoo for the gbroup?