Cockatoos: A Bit of Heaven on Earth

‘Cotton Candy’, ‘Pink or White Clouds’, ‘Bundles of Fluff’ – How does one describe a species of birds which seem to have come to us straight from Heaven? White, pink or black with magnificent erectable crests, COCKATOOS are the affectionate and softer cousins of the vibrantly colored, magnificent Macaws.

Cockatoos are native to Australia and the islands of the southern Pacific. They are extremely beautiful and range in size from the Timor at about 11-12 inches to the Palm at 29 inches and are extremely long lived, 70 to 100 years.

All Cockatoos have a bald spot on the top their head, covered by an erectile crest . A protective powder covers their feathers giving them a silky texture. In most sub species, males usually have dark brown or black eyes, while females are burgandy or lighter brown. However, surgical or DNA sexing should be preformed to determine sex rather than relying on eye color.

Cockatoos are intelligent, affectionate and acrobatic. They have impressive vocal abilities and are dedicated chewers, which must be considered before purchasing a Cockatoo. Although they talk, they’re better at learning tricks and are good performers. Cockatoos are natural born escape artists and puzzle solvers. Their powerful beaks can break open most nuts and destroy the hardest of woods. They are flock birds who mate for life and often bond to their owner as to a mate. They cannot be left alone in a cage and ignored.

Of all the species, toos require the most time, attention and affection. These very social animals must spend time out of their cage and with their owners each day. Their natural curiosity and craving for attention make cockatoos ideal family pets. Owning a cockatoo can be a wonderful and rewarding experience, but it also requires commitment and time.

COCKATOO SPECIES

PALM COCKATOOS

Are the largest (29 inches) and rarest of the species. Mainly black with a huge beak and spiny crest, it has a skin patch on the face which changes from blue to red based upon health and emotion. Native to New Guinea, they are gentle and affectionate. Due to their rarety, they are expensive and not often found as a pet.

MOLUCCAN COCKATOOS (Salmon Crested Cockatoo)

Are found in the Phillippines, and the Moluccan and Indonesia Islands. They’re one of the largest of the species at 20 inches. Moluccans are light pink to salmon colored with a beautiful large orange crest. They are extremely intelligent, lovable and affectionate. They can be taught many tricks and some are very good talkers. In the early morning and late afternoon they can be rather loud when flock calling. Moluccans are very aggressive chewers who need a steady supply of toys and perches to destroy.

UMBRELLA COCKATOOS (Greater White Crested)

Are white with a lemon yellow color under their wings and tail. They are a little smaller than the Moluccan but possess a similar personality. The Umbrella is named for its large white crest which it unfolds when excited. Like all toos, they are chewers and require a large cage, exercise, freedom and much social contact. Umbrellas like to snuggle, cuddle and be petted for hours.

GREATER, MEDIUM and LESSOR SULPHUR CRESTED COCKATOOS

Are all white with a yellow crest and under tail and vary mainly in size. Blue Eyed and Tritons are other sulphur crested cockatoo sub species.

GREATER SULPHURS (20 inches)

Talk, are beautiful intelligent showoffs and can live over 100 years.

ELEANORAS (medium)

Are social, good natured, active, acrobatic and have a sunny disposition. They talk some, make an excellent companion, and aren’t as needy as some of the other cockatoos.

CITRONS (Lessor)

Also good pets, are approximately 14 inches in length. Citrons are beautiful with an orange crest and faint yellowish-orange-cheek patches. Citrons are very loving and affectionate but tend to be a little shyer than other Cockatoos.

LEADBEATER’S COCKATOOS (Major Mitchell)

Are about 15 inches in length and can only be described as magnificent. Areas of pink and white feathers adorn the body. Their crowning glory is a red and yellow banded crest, tipped with white.

The GALAH or ROSE BREASTED COCKATOO (see Winged Wisdom’s logo above)

Is one of the most colorful members of the cockatoo family. With rose colored breast feathers and contrasting grey feathers on the wing and back, they can’t be called anything but spectacular birds of astounding beauty and grace. The crest is white and pink. They’re considered pests in their native Australia where huge flocks will descend upon fields and destroy the entire crop. They are not as common in the US as some of the other Cockatoos, but are intelligent and affectionate and make very desirable pets.

BARE EYED COCKATOOS (Little Corella)

At 17 inches are one of the most intelligent of the species. The bluish skin patch around their eyes detracts from their appearance. But they more than make up for it with their comical personality. They are also one of the best talkers in the cockatoo family. Bare eyeds are fun, lovable, affectionate, noisy and good pets.

GOFFINS COCKATOOS

Are one of the smallest of the species at 11 inches and are white with yellow under the tail and wing feathers and peach extending from beak to eyes. Goffins are impish little clowns who are full of constant energy. They’re quite affectionate and tend to be more independent than most cockatoos. They can learn to speak a few words or phrases with surprising clarity. Goffins are the cockatoo of choice for the apartment dweller and make wonderful pets.

If you are looking for a pet to put in a cage and admire from afar, then Cockatoos are not for you. But if you can commit to spending time with your pet, a Cockatoo will reward you with love, beauty, affection and hours of entertainment.