Their large expressive crests make the Cockatoos one of the most easily recognized groups of pet birds. They belong to the parrot family and are found in Austrailia and the South Pacific. They are very affectionate and animated birds that love interacting with their keeper.
There are about 20 species of cockatoos found mainly in Australia and the South Pacific. Only about a half-dozen of these make up the majority of those kept as pets. These range in size from a litle over a foot for the Goffin and Lesser Sulphur-crested up to around two feet for the largest. The other species normally kept as pets include the Moluccan, Greater Sulfur-crested, Umbrella and Bare-eyed Cockatoos.
Cockatoos are one of the more affectionate birds given ample quality time they bond closely with their caretaker. In general they enjoy handling and are usually willing to play. Their fun personalities have made them a favorite but they do take a considerable amount of care.
Be prepared to spend at least an hour a day socializing and about the same time caring for your Cockatoo. Birds that feel neglected are prone to anxiety disorders like feather plucking. They are also pretty messy birds in general playing with their food and chewing up just about anything they get their beak on.
The cockatoos like cockatiels and African grey parrots also produce a considerable amount of preening dust known as powder down that they use to groom their feathers. This tends to spread through the home and may cause allergic reactions in some people. Frequent cage cleaning, misting and bathing helps control the dust.
Being large birds cockatoos require large cages that are a couple of feet wide 3 or 4 feet long and 4 foot tall. Appropriate bar spacing ranges from 3/4 to 1.5 inches and should be as wide as possible without letting the bird stick their head between them. They should have at least a portion with horizontal barring to allow the bird to climb.
Because of their strong tendency to chew anything they can get their beak on several bird safe chewable toys should be provided. Cockatoos are going to chew so its better to provide these than to let them chew their cage, perches and water or food dishes.
Feeding prepared pellets as about half of their diet helps ensure proper nutrition. The rest of their diet should be made up of fresh fruits and vegetables and some whole grains. Some favorite treats to feed in limited amounts include nuts, seeds, hard-boiled eggs, lean bland chicken and hot peppers. Feeding three times a day is usually recommended.
Fresh water should be provided at all times and any food and water bowls need to be washed well before every time you fill them. The cage liner should be changed daily and the cage and its contents should be sanitized weekly.