Last Updated on December 22, 2023 by Ali Shahid
Explore the intriguing and diverse world of cockatoos, a captivating and beautiful group of birds. Classified under the family Cacatuidae, cockatoos comprise 21 distinct parrot species, each flaunting its own unique features and personality quirks. From their eye-catching crests to the vivid hues of their plumage, these birds stand out as a testament to the ingenuity of nature.
Beyond their physical allure, their playful and affectionate demeanor has earned them a special place in the hearts of bird enthusiasts. In our exploration of the world of cockatoos, we will delve into the rich diversity of their variety, shedding light on their physical attributes, behaviors, and the environments they proudly inhabit.
What Does a Cockatoo Look Like?
Cockatoos form a diverse avian group, each species possessing distinct physical traits. Generally categorized as medium to large parrots, they measure between 30 and 60 cm (12 to 24 in) in length and weigh from 300 to 1,200 g (0.66 to 2.65 lb). Notably, the cockatiel, the smallest among them, deviates by being considerably smaller and slimmer.
A key characteristic of cockatoos is their mobile headcrest, a feature present across all species. This crest elevates upon the bird’s landing or when it experiences arousal. When alarmed or excited, the crest of feathers atop their heads stands erect.
Cockatoos share commonalities with other parrots, such as a curved beak and a zygodactyl foot arrangement featuring two forward middle toes and two backward outer toes. This zygodactylous arrangement facilitates their adept gripping of branches and precise tree climbing.
The color spectrum among cockatoos is diverse. While certain species, like the Umbrella Cockatoo and Goffin Cockatoo, exhibit predominantly white plumage, others showcase vibrant hues, as seen in the pink and gray Galah Cockatoo or the red-tailed black cockatoo.
Beyond aesthetic appeal, these colors and patterns serve various purposes, including camouflage and communication. Exceptionally rare are the black and red hues, observed in only three species. Another unique color combination is the grey and red displayed exclusively by the stunning gang-gang cockatoo found in southeastern Australia.
Exploring 13 Best Types of Cockatoos
Cockatoos constitute a diverse avian family comprising 21 distinct species, each characterized by its unique features. These birds exhibit a range in size, from the petite cockatiel, measuring 12-14 inches and weighing 100-130 grams, to the larger Black Palm Cockatoo, which can attain lengths of up to 24 inches and weigh between 910-1200 grams.
Diversity in Cockatoo Species
Cockatoos are renowned for their ornate crests and curved bills, although they are less vivid in color than other parrots. Their colorful attributes are predominantly found on their crests, cheeks, or tails. Let’s explore the variety of cockatoo species:
1. Bare-Eyed Cockatoo
Also known as the Little Corella Cockatoo, the Bare-Eyed Cockatoo is a relatively small bird, primarily white, with salmon-pink accents on their faces. They sport horn-colored beaks and distinct bare, gray-blue patches around their eyes. Indigenous to Australia and southern New Guinea, these cockatoos typically measure between 14 and 16 inches in length.
Renowned for their lively personalities, they are known to be sweet, playful, and intelligent. Among the adept talking cockatoos, they make excellent companions, displaying friendliness and entertainment.
As family pets, they thrive on human interaction, requiring at least 2 hours of daily engagement with their owners. Ideally suited for homes offering a blend of attention, mental stimulation, and a cozy environment, they flourish in an atmosphere of love and care from their human families.
However, without adequate attention, they may exhibit undesirable behaviors such as excessive screaming and feather plucking, making them better suited for experienced bird owners.
2. Black Palm Cockatoo
The Black Palm Cockatoo, also known as the Goliath Cockatoo, is the largest cockatoo species native to Australia and New Guinea. It is primarily black or smoky gray with a large crest, a huge beak, and a red facial patch. Adult Black Palm Cockatoos typically measure between 22 and 24 inches in length.
These birds are intelligent but not naturally affectionate. However, with extensive training and socialization, they can make excellent pets for experienced bird owners. They require a lot of attention, consistent training, and a fearless owner to match their bold personality.
The ideal home for a Black Palm Cockatoo is one that can provide plenty of interaction, mental stimulation, and a cozy environment. They are not suitable for apartment living due to their loud calls and need for space. A dedicated and experienced owner can create a comfortable and engaging home for these magnificent birds.
3. Citron Cockatoo
The Citron Cockatoo also recognized as the Citron-Crested Cockatoo, hails from Indonesia’s Lesser Sunda Islands and Sumba. Featuring a medium-sized build, it showcases a predominantly white plumage adorned with pale orange patches on its cheeks, pale yellow undersides on wings and tail feathers and a vivid orange crest.
Typically spanning 13 to 15 inches, Citron Cockatoos are acknowledged for their relatively reserved and quieter demeanor compared to other larger cockatoos. Despite their reserved nature, they exhibit high intelligence and playfulness, readily learning tricks.
These birds display affection and curiosity, particularly once they establish comfort with their owners. However, acclimating to new surroundings may take some time. To ensure their emotional well-being, consistent interaction with owners is essential.
If neglected, they might exhibit destructive behaviors and vocalize loudly. An ideal home for a Citron Cockatoo involves abundant love, attention, and mental stimulation alongside a spacious indoor or outdoor cage. Apartment living may not suit them due to potential loud vocalizations.
4. Sulphur-Crested Cockatoo
The Sulphur-Crested Cockatoo, a sizable white parrot native to Australia and neighboring islands, is distinguished by its sulfur-yellow crest and pale yellow feathers beneath the wings and tail. Both males and females display similar appearances; males feature darker brown eyes, while females exhibit red-tinted brown eyes.
Ranging from 17.5 to 21.5 inches, Sulphur-Crested Cockatoos are renowned for their playful, energetic, and affectionate personalities. Despite their intelligence and capacity to form strong bonds with owners, they demand substantial care and attention. Neglect may lead to destructive behaviors and vocalizations.
Recognized for their noisiness, these cockatoos thrive in homes where someone is present most of the time. They necessitate interaction, a spacious cage, and freedom outside the cage for exercise and play. Adequate chew toys are essential to curb their natural inclination to chew. Due to their vocal nature, apartment living and households with small children may not be ideal.
5. Goffin’s Cockatoo
Hailing from Indonesia’s Tanimbar Islands, Goffin’s Cockatoo, a medium-sized bird, boasts predominantly white plumage, a grayish-white beak, salmon-colored feathers around the eyes and beak, and a subtle yellow tint on wing and tail feathers. Measuring between 9 and 12 inches, these cockatoos are recognized for their playful, curious, and active nature.
Renowned for their intelligence, they are deemed crafty escape artists capable of mastering cage latches. Goffin’s Cockatoos are emotionally dependent, necessitating constant stimulation to deter destructive behaviors like feather plucking. Generally friendly and sociable, they may exhibit territorial behavior if deeply bonded with a single person.
An ideal environment for Goffin’s Cockatoo involves ample attention, mental stimulation, and a comfortable setting. They thrive in a room frequently visited by family members, but their inquisitiveness can be accompanied by loud vocalizations. Consequently, apartment living or households with small children may pose challenges.
Major Mitchell’s Cockatoo, commonly known as the Pink Cockatoo, is a medium-sized bird indigenous to Australia. Sporting soft-textured white and salmon-pink plumage, it features a striking large crest in vibrant red and yellow. Males and females share near-identical appearances, with males typically larger and females possessing a broader yellow stripe on the crest.
Measuring between 13 to 15 inches, these cockatoos are renowned for their robust character and intelligence. Despite their intelligence, they may not exhibit docile behavior and can lean towards aloofness, occasionally resorting to biting. Vocal and expressive, they may not suit quieter living environments.
These birds form strong bonds with their owners, showcasing possessiveness and occasional signs of jealousy. Requiring substantial care and attention, neglect may lead to destructive behaviors.
Ideal for experienced bird owners, a suitable home for Major Mitchell’s Cockatoo involves ample attention, mental stimulation, and a spacious cage equipped with perches and toys. Due to their vocal nature, apartment living or households with small children may pose challenges.
7. Umbrella Cockatoo
Native to Indonesian islands, the Umbrella Cockatoo is a medium-sized bird characterized by its white plumage, distinct yellow under-wing coloration, and a raised white crest resembling an umbrella when excited or curious.
Featuring a curved gray beak, larger in males, and a pale blue eye-ring with dark brown irises in males and red in females, these cockatoos are known for their gentle and docile nature. Highly intelligent, they thrive on mental stimulation and form close bonds with their owners, displaying strong cuddling behavior.
While generally well-tempered, they can be noisy, necessitating proper training. An ideal home for an Umbrella Cockatoo requires a diet for overall well-being, consistent human presence, ample space, and mental stimulation.
Gymnastics, movement, and climbing are integral to their well-being, and a lack of physical space or mental stimulation may lead to frustration and destructive behaviors. The room they inhabit should be frequented by the family, with the cage positioned at eye level in a quiet, sunny area away from drafts.
The Moluccan Cockatoo, also referred to as the Salmon-crested Cockatoo is a sizable bird native to Indonesia’s Maluku island group. Adorned with whitish-salmon-colored feathers, a vibrant salmon-pink crest, and a gray-black bill, these cockatoos boast bright salmon-pink under-feathers with shades of orange, yellow, and pink at the base of the tail feathers.
Acknowledged for their high intelligence and sociability, they form strong bonds with owners. However, their propensity for loudness and the demanding nature of their care make them challenging pets. Living over 30 years, they are known to be messy.
An optimal environment for a Moluccan Cockatoo involves constant human presence, ample space, and mental stimulation. Playful and active, they may resort to destructive behaviors if deprived of physical space or mental stimulation.
The room they inhabit should be frequently visited by the family, with the cage positioned at eye level in a quiet, sunny area away from drafts. A spacious cage, three flight wingspans in size, is recommended for their well-being.
9. Greater Sulphur-Crested Cockatoo
The Greater Sulphur-Crested Cockatoo, a substantial white parrot with a dark grey-black bill, boasts a striking bright yellow crest and corresponding yellow accents beneath its wings and tail. Males exhibit darker brown or black eyes, while females showcase reddish-brown eyes.
Renowned for high intelligence and energetic disposition, these cockatoos are socially inclined and exhibit constructive behaviors. They thrive on human interaction, often seeking affection through cuddles and scratches. However, their penchant for noise and need for attention make them a challenging yet rewarding pet.
An optimal home for a Greater Sulphur-Crested Cockatoo involves constant human presence, a large living space, and a generously sized cage (minimum dimensions of 40 inches by 40 inches and a height of 60 inches).
Placing the cage at eye level in a quiet, sunny area away from drafts is crucial. Mental stimulation and physical activity are essential, requiring the provision of toys, perches, and opportunities for play outside the cage. It’s noteworthy that these birds have a lifespan of up to 80 years in captivity, necessitating a significant long-term commitment.
10. Triton Cockatoo
The Triton Cockatoo, a specific subspecies of the Sulphur-Crested Cockatoo, originates from New Guinea and neighboring islands. Predominantly white with a substantial yellow crest, a pale blue peri ophthalmic ring, and a gray-black bill, these birds typically measure between 18 and 22 inches.
Triton Cockatoos are recognized for their affectionate and playful nature. Displaying high intelligence, they readily form strong bonds with their owners. However, their demand for attention may manifest as noise and destructive behavior if not adequately addressed.
An ideal home for a Triton Cockatoo necessitates abundant attention, mental stimulation, and a comfortable setting. A spacious cage, replete with toys and items suitable for destruction, is imperative. Freedom to fly around the home during the day caters to their inquisitive nature.
While keeping them in a room frequently visited by family members is recommended, their potential for noise may render them unsuitable for apartment living or households with small children.
11. Rose-Breasted Cockatoo (Galah)
The Rose-Breasted Cockatoo, commonly known as the Galah, is a medium-sized bird indigenous to Australia. Distinguished by its pink face and chest, complemented by a grey back, wings, and tail, it features a pale grey beak and a white or light pink eye ring. Typically measuring between 12 and 15 inches, Galahs are celebrated for their playful and friendly demeanor.
Highly intelligent and social, they form strong bonds with their owners, albeit with a tendency towards noisiness. Requiring ample interaction and mental stimulation, they are avid chewers, necessitating a supply of toys and suitable items for chewing.
An optimal home for a Rose-Breasted Cockatoo involves abundant attention, mental stimulation, and a cozy environment. A spacious cage with appropriate toys is essential, alongside the freedom to fly around the home during the day. While their inquisitive nature suggests keeping them in frequented rooms, their potential for noise may make them unsuitable for apartment living or homes with small children.
12. Lesser Sulphur-Crested Cockatoo
The Lesser Sulphur-Crested Cockatoo, also known as the Rose-Breasted Cockatoo or Galah, is a medium-sized bird originating from Australia. Recognizable by its distinct pink face and chest, complemented by a grey back, wings, and tail, it features a pale grey beak and a white or light pink eye ring.
Typically measuring between 12 and 15 inches, these cockatoos are esteemed for their playful and amiable nature. Highly intelligent and social, they readily form strong bonds with their owners. However, their tendency for noise requires substantial interaction and mental stimulation.
As avid chewers, providing them with an array of toys and suitable items for chewing is imperative. The optimal home for a Lesser Sulphur-Crested Cockatoo involves abundant attention, mental stimulation, and a comfortable environment. A spacious cage equipped with appropriate toys is essential, and they benefit from the freedom to fly around the home during the day.
Given their inquisitive nature, keeping them in a room frequently visited by family members is recommended. However, their potential for noise may render them unsuitable for apartment living or homes with small children.
The Cockatiel, a petite bird native to Australia, is distinguished by its unique crest and vibrant cheek patches. Displaying a grey body, a yellow face, and orange patches on the cheeks, it typically measures between 12 and 13 inches in length.
Cockatiels are celebrated for their friendly and easygoing demeanor. Intelligent and social, they readily form strong bonds with their owners. Relatively quiet and easy to care for, they are a favored choice for first-time bird owners. Maintaining their well-being involves a balanced diet, regular exercise, and mental stimulation.
An ideal home for a Cockatiel entails abundant attention, mental stimulation, and a cozy environment. A spacious cage, complemented by a variety of toys and appropriate items for chewing, is essential. The freedom to fly around the home during the day aligns with their social nature, making it advisable to keep them in a room frequently visited by family members. Their relatively quiet nature renders them suitable for apartment living.
Cockatoos exhibit a rich array of colors, with some of the most unique hues being exceptionally rare in the avian world. The striking combination of black and red, a rarity, is exclusive to merely three cockatoo species.
Additionally, the unusual fusion of grey and red is a distinctive feature found solely in the captivating gang-gang cockatoo, native to southeastern Australia; among the spectrum of remarkable colors, elegant pink stands out, gracefully adorning species such as Major Mitchell’s cockatoo, also known as the pink cockatoo.
In contrast, the most prevalent color among cockatoos is the classic and pristine white, exemplified by species like Solomon’s cockatoo and the endangered umbrella cockatoo. This common yet enchanting coloration adds to the diverse and visually captivating palette of these remarkable birds.
Rarest Cockatoo Species
Numerous cockatoo species face significant threats, with some classified as vulnerable or critically endangered, highlighting the urgent need for conservation efforts. Among them, the red-vented cockatoo and the yellow-crested cockatoo stand out as particularly at risk.
The yellow-crested cockatoo, in particular, is critically endangered, experiencing a severe decline in numbers primarily attributed to illegal trapping for the cage-bird trade. This illicit activity poses a severe threat to the population of these majestic birds.
In addition to the yellow-crested cockatoo, the black palm cockatoo holds the status of being one of the rarest and arguably most exquisite species. As with other endangered species, the conservation of these remarkable birds becomes imperative to ensure their survival and maintain the biodiversity of their respective ecosystems. Addressing the challenges faced by these vulnerable cockatoo species involves a concerted effort to combat illegal activities and preserve their natural habitats.
Cockatoos, a captivating avian species, hail from a range of habitats encompassing forests, mangroves, shrublands, and rainforests. While the majority of the 21 recognized species are native to Australia, specifically 11 of them, these charismatic birds also inhabit regions in the Philippines, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, and the Solomon Islands.
The diverse natural settings they call home span from montane forests to dry forests and open plains, varying according to the specific species. For instance, the Galah and Cockatiel thrive in open-country environments, feeding on grass seeds, while the Glossy Black Cockatoo favors woodlands, rainforests, and alpine forests.
Notably, the Philippine Cockatoo has a penchant for mangroves. This diversity in natural habitats reflects cockatoos’ adaptability and each species’ unique characteristics.
Cockatoo Behavior and Personality
Cockatoos, renowned for their endearing qualities, are characterized by playfulness, affection, and remarkable intelligence. Their highly social nature, observed both in captivity and the wild, reveals distinct personalities that can differ even within the same species.
Playful and Affectionate Nature: Often coined as “velcro” birds, cockatoos exhibit a strong inclination for physical contact and interaction with their owners. Their affinity for petting and close proximity makes them exceptional companion animals. However, this affectionate demeanor demands substantial attention, as neglect may lead to feelings of depression and subsequent destructive behaviors such as feather plucking.
Intelligence and Inquisitiveness: Cockatoos showcase high intelligence and curiosity, evidenced by their ability to fashion tools for reaching food, demonstrating problem-solving skills and behavioral adaptability. Their aptitude for mimicking human speech is another testament to their cognitive prowess. However, this intelligence, coupled with their inquisitive nature, can manifest in mischievous behavior, particularly in their love for chewing and the potential destruction of inadequately constructed cages. Providing attention and an array of toys becomes crucial for distraction.
Social Behavior in the Wild: In their natural habitats, cockatoos exhibit social tendencies, forming pairs or groups for safety and communal food exploration. Maintaining bonds through vocal communication and grooming, they adhere to monogamous relationships, selecting a life mate and often raising their offspring together. Notably, the loss of a partner can lead to a solitary existence for the remaining bird. Loud calls, a distinctive aspect of their behavior, serve as a means of staying in contact within the group, with the ability to recognize the calls of relatives and group members akin to human voice recognition.
Cockatoo Care: Keeping a Cockatoo as a Pet
Cockatoos, renowned for their intelligence, affectionate nature, and social tendencies, can make wonderful companions. However, prospective owners must be aware of the substantial commitment involved in providing the necessary time, attention, and care.
Commitment Involved in Owning a Cockatoo: Cockatoos are considered high-maintenance pets, thriving on companionship and requiring significant time outside their cages. Without adequate attention, they may exhibit excessive boisterousness and destructive behaviors. Owners must be prepared for a long-term commitment, as these birds boast lifespans ranging from 40 to 100 years, depending on the species. The strong bonds formed with owners can lead to complex dynamics, especially if the bird perceives the owner as a mate, potentially resulting in aggression towards other household members.
Balanced Diet for Cockatoos: Maintaining the health of cockatoos necessitates a well-balanced and varied diet. Nutrition-related issues, such as vitamin A deficiency, insufficient dietary calcium, high cholesterol, and atherosclerosis, concern these birds. The recommended diet comprises pelleted food formulated for birds, constituting around 75-80% of their nutritional intake. While cockatoos enjoy seeds, fruits, nuts, and vegetables, they should be provided in moderation due to their high fat content. Protein needs can be met through nuts and legumes, with careful consideration of portion sizes, given the fat content.
Grooming and Maintenance Needs of a Cockatoo: Regular grooming is essential for the well-being of cockatoos, encompassing the maintenance of feathers, nails, and beaks. Professional groomers can perform these tasks to ensure the bird’s comfort and safety. Bathing is a crucial aspect, aiding in removing accumulated feather dust. It is imperative to use plain water during baths, as any additives can alter the pH of the feathers, potentially leading to infections or parasitic infestations. Beyond grooming, maintaining a clean environment is vital, involving daily cleaning of food and water dishes and regular cage cleaning to eliminate feather dust accumulation. This comprehensive care regimen contributes to these remarkable avian companions’ overall health and happiness.
Choosing the Perfect Name for Your Cockatoo: A Thoughtful Guide
Selecting a name for your cockatoo is a delightful process that requires a blend of creativity and consideration. Here’s a guide to help you find the ideal name for your feathered companion:
Popular Cockatoo Bird Names:
Embark on your naming journey with inspiration from some commonly chosen names:
Factors to Consider When Naming Your Cockatoo:
1. Personality: Capture the intelligence and playfulness of your cockatoo. For a vocal bird, consider names like Chatty.
2. Appearance: Draw inspiration from your cockatoo’s color and feather pattern. A white-feathered bird could be fittingly named Snowball.
3. Ease of Pronunciation: Opt for names that are both easy for you to say and for your bird to remember. Coco, Louie, or Pip are examples of shorter, manageable names.
4. Uniqueness: Strike a balance between a name that stands out and is not overly common. This ensures recognition without blending into the crowd.
5. Personal Meaning: Infuse personal significance or adhere to a theme, such as food-themed or nature-inspired names.
Cockatoos are truly captivating birds, boasting vibrant colors, playful personalities, and distinctive traits that showcase the diverse beauty of the avian world. Ranging in size, color, and habitat, from the petite cockatiel to the majestic Palm Cockatoo, each species possesses unique features that appeal to bird enthusiasts. However, deciding to bring a cockatoo into your life requires careful consideration.
Owning a cockatoo demands a substantial commitment of time, attention, and care. These sociable birds thrive on companionship, and neglect can lead to disruptive behavior and destructiveness. Additionally, their considerable lifespans mean that choosing a cockatoo is a lifelong dedication.
Ensuring a cockatoo’s well-being involves more than just affection; a well-balanced diet, regular grooming, and maintenance are crucial for their health. Prospective owners must be ready for the responsibility of caring for these intelligent and affectionate birds.
Understanding the diverse array of cockatoo species is vital for potential owners. This knowledge aids in selecting a species that aligns with one’s lifestyle and capabilities, promoting optimal care for their feathered companion and ensuring a life of health and happiness for the bird.