Moluccan Cockatoo (Complete Specie Profile)

Last Updated on December 22, 2023 by Ali Shahid

Moluccan Cockatoo. Scientifically identified as Cacatua moluccensis, stands out as one of the larger white cockatoos, reaching an impressive height of 52 centimeters and weighing up to 850 grams.

Originating from the Seram archipelago in eastern Indonesia, the Moluccan Cockatoo captivates observers with its radiant white-pink feathers, tinged with a distinct peachy hue. Its remarkable retractable crest further adds to the spectacle, unveiling vibrant red-orange plumes when raised.

Beyond its striking appearance, this intelligent and emotional bird is renowned for its vocal prowess, ranking among the loudest in the parrot world. In captivity, it showcases its adept mimicry skills, establishing itself as a sought-after yet demanding companion due to its need for human attention and interaction. However, the Moluccan Cockatoo’s allure extends beyond its external beauty and engaging personality.

The species boasts a lengthy lifespan akin to humans, coupled with a complex emotional intelligence that enhances its mystique. As we embark on this exploration, we will delve into the distinctive traits, behaviors, and the special bond formed between Moluccan Cockatoos and their human companions.

Moluccan Cockatoo

Moluccan Cockatoo’s Natural Habitat

The Moluccan Cockatoo calls the Seram archipelago home, specifically the southern Moluccan Islands in eastern Indonesia. This geographical area is part of Wallacea, celebrated for its distinctive mix of Asian and Australasian species.

In its native habitat, these majestic birds thrive in lowland forests below 1000 meters, predominantly inhabiting the canopy or emergent layer of the rainforest. The lush and dense forests of the Seram archipelago create an ideal environment for the Moluccan Cockatoo, characterized by a high prevalence of localized bird endemism.

Feeding on a varied diet of seeds, nuts, and fruits, including the occasional coconut, these cockatoos have also been observed consuming insects. Seram Island stands out as one of the final refuges for the Moluccan Cockatoo, establishing itself as a prime destination for bird enthusiasts seeking a glimpse of these avian wonders.

The local communities play a pivotal role in safeguarding these birds by actively combatting illegal trading. Instead of engaging in harmful activities, the villagers promote bird-watching tours, contributing significantly to conservation efforts.

Despite the apparent richness and diversity of their natural habitat, the Moluccan Cockatoo faces vulnerability as a species. Pressing threats such as deforestation and illicit bird trade loom large, necessitating ongoing conservation endeavors. Dedicated efforts are underway to shield and perpetuate the existence of these magnificent birds within their native environment.

Physical Characteristics of Moluccan Cockatoo

 Ranking among the largest white cockatoos, this bird stands tall at up to 52 centimeters and carries a weight of approximately 850 grams. Cloaked in a predominant pale pink hue, the Moluccan Cockatoo boasts a remarkable deep salmon-colored crest, radiating a definite peachy luminescence. Complementing this, a subtle yellow graces the underwing and the underside of its tail feathers.

A standout feature of this species is its sizable retractable crest, a visual spectacle when raised, unveiling vivid red-orange plumes. This elaborate display serves dual purposes – intimidating potential threats and expressing a range of emotions, from excitement to other nuanced sentiments.

Adding to its visual allure, the bird’s bill and legs adopt a gray-black hue, while females exhibit a dark reddish-brown eye and may display a slightly less pinkish coloration. Beyond aesthetics, the Moluccan Cockatoo is renowned for its resonant calls, ranking prominently among the parrot world’s loudest.

In captivity, its intellectual prowess shines through as it demonstrates adept mimicry skills. Social beings by nature, these birds readily form profound connections with their human companions, although their penchant for chewing and potential noise levels warrant consideration.

A remarkable lifespan of up to 70 years has been recorded for the Moluccan Cockatoo, which is comparable to that of humans. This extended life journey, coupled with their intricate emotional intelligence, positions them as an enthralling subject for study and interaction.

It is imperative to acknowledge that these birds demand substantial care and attention due to their heightened intelligence and emotional acuity. Neglect can lead to neurotic behavior, emphasizing the necessity for ample out-of-cage time on a daily basis.

Moluccan Cockatoo’s Diet

The Moluccan Cockatoo boasts a diverse diet encompassing an array of seeds, nuts, fruits, and even insects. In its natural habitat, the diet predominantly revolves around seeds, nuts, and fruits like coconuts, with evidence suggesting occasional insect consumption.

 In a captive setting, ensuring a well-rounded diet for these cockatoos involves a substantial portion of specially formulated parrot pellets, meticulously crafted to meet their nutritional requirements. Ideally, pellets should constitute approximately 60-80% of the bird’s dietary intake.

Complementing the pellet foundation, a Moluccan Cockatoo’s diet benefits from supplementing with fresh fruits and vegetables. Fruits such as mangoes, oranges, papaya, peaches, pears, pineapples, plums, pomegranates, raspberries, star fruit, strawberries, and tangerines add nutritional variety. 

Dark yellow and leafy green vegetables like alfalfa and artichokes contribute further. Seeds and nuts, including sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, safflower seeds, fennel seeds, macadamia nuts, pine nuts, walnuts, pistachios, cashews, Brazil nuts, pecans, and almonds, can also be included, albeit in moderation due to their high-fat content.

Protein sources, crucial for their diet, include hard-boiled eggs, fish in moderation, tofu, tuna in water, and plain, non-fat yogurt. It is imperative to exercise caution with certain foods, as they can be harmful to Moluccan Cockatoos. Avocado, chocolate, rhubarb, and alcohol, possessing toxic properties, should be strictly avoided, as ingestion could prove detrimental or fatal to the bird.

Transitioning a Moluccan Cockatoo from a seed-based diet to a pellet-based one requires patience and gradual adjustment. It is advisable to slowly wean seed-eating birds onto a pelleted diet, considering the bird’s adaptability and ensuring a seamless dietary transition.

Moluccan Cockatoo’s Behavior and Personality

Renowned for their remarkable intelligence and emotional depth, Moluccan Cockatoos are distinguished by their highly interactive nature and a penchant for human companionship. These birds actively seek physical contact with their owners, displaying affection, playfulness, and an inherent inquisitiveness that thrives in an organized lifestyle.

The strength of the bond formed between Moluccan Cockatoos and their owners is notable, yet it brings forth challenges if their elevated physical and emotional requirements are not adequately met. Potential behavioral issues may manifest, including stress, self-mutilation such as feather plucking, incessant screaming, purposeful dish dumping, and the destruction of cage perches and toys.

Notorious for their vocal prowess, Moluccan Cockatoos employ loud vocalizations to communicate with other birds and express their myriad needs and emotions. Ranking among the loudest parrots, their vocal volume surpasses that of most avian counterparts.

Embodying a playful disposition, these birds exhibit curiosity and a penchant for object-chewing. Ensuring a stimulating environment, Moluccan Cockatoos benefit from the provision of toys, wooden blocks, or branches that cater to their natural inclination to chew.

In their natural habitat, Moluccan Cockatoos maintain a generally shy and cautious demeanor. Typically observed alone or in small groups, they are most visible during the early and late hours of the day. Expressing excitement involves the raising of their crest, foot stamping, and bill clacking, adding a vibrant dimension to their captivating nature.

Moluccan Cockatoo as Pets

Being a pet owner of a Moluccan Cockatoo can be a rewarding and challenging experience, given their unique needs and behaviors. These birds, celebrated for their exceptional intelligence and emotional depth, possess a strong inclination for human interaction. Affectionate, playful, and inquisitive, Moluccan Cockatoos often seek physical closeness with their owners. However, their notable traits also encompass loud vocalizations and a penchant for destructiveness, frequently extending to their toys and perches.

Owning a Moluccan Cockatoo entails a substantial investment of time, attention, and effort. These high-maintenance pets, with a lifespan exceeding 30 years, demand a considerable commitment. Their inherently messy nature adds to the caregiving challenge. Providing a spacious and robust cage is imperative to accommodate their need for movement and play, with durability ensuring resilience against their potential attempts at destruction.

The strong bond formed between Moluccan Cockatoos and their owners, while endearing, can lead to behavioral complications if their elevated physical and emotional needs go unfulfilled. Issues like stress, self-mutilation (such as feather plucking), and persistent screaming may arise. Their loud vocalizations, considered among the parrot world’s loudest, serve as a means of communication and emotional expression.

In addition to their vocal prowess, Moluccaan Cockatoos exhibit a playful nature, displaying curiosity and a penchant for object-chewing. As responsible caretakers, providing a stimulating environment replete with toys, wooden blocks, or branches is crucial to satiate their natural inclination to chew. Navigating the challenges of keeping a Moluccan Cockatoo as a pet requires dedication, patience, and a comprehensive understanding of their complex needs.

Conservation Status of Moluccan Cockatoo

The Moluccan Cockatoo, originating from the Seram archipelago in eastern Indonesia, currently holds a Vulnerable status on the IUCN Red List. The primary threats looming over this species involve habitat loss triggered by deforestation and illicit trapping for the cage-bird trade. At the peak of trapping activities, a staggering 6,000 birds were extracted from their natural habitat annually, leaving a dwindling population of around 2,000 individuals in the wild. 

Although conservation efforts have been somewhat constrained, organizations like the World Parrot Trust have undertaken diverse projects aimed at safeguarding parrots globally. Regrettably, initiatives specifically targeting Moluccan Cockatoos remain scarce.

Elevating awareness, preserving their natural habitat, and enforcing stringent regulations on the bird trade emerge as crucial components in ensuring the survival of this enchanting species in its native environment. While the challenges are formidable, the imperative lies in fostering a comprehensive approach to conservation, encompassing both global parrot preservation efforts and targeted strategies tailored to the unique needs of the Moluccan Cockatoo.

Places to Buy Moluccan Cockatoo and Price

Moluccan Cockatoos are available for purchase through diverse channels such as pet stores, breeders, and online platforms. The cost of acquiring a Moluccan Cockatoo can vary significantly, contingent on factors such as the bird’s age, health, and the geographical location of the seller. 

On average, prices for these birds fall within the range of $1,000 to $3,500. For instance, on the Birds Now website, Moluccan Cockatoo prices span from $1,800 to $5,500. In contrast, Terry’s Parrot Farm lists a Moluccan Cockatoo for sale at $750. PetzLover, a platform facilitating pet sales, also features Moluccan Cockatoos for sale, although specific prices are not provided.

Prospective owners should recognize that the initial purchase cost is just one aspect of financial commitment. Additional considerations encompass the expenses associated with a spacious and robust cage, an array of toys, quality food, and routine veterinary care. 

Given the high-maintenance nature of these birds, requiring a substantial time investment, potential owners must be prepared for the ongoing costs and responsibilities associated with caring for a Moluccan Cockatoo as a pet.

Prior to acquiring a Moluccan Cockatoo, diligent research is imperative to vet the credibility of the seller and ensure the bird’s upbringing in a healthy and humane environment. It is advisable to visit the bird in person before finalizing the purchase, allowing for a firsthand assessment of its health and temperament.


The Moluccan Cockatoo, with its alluring appearance and intricate personality, stands as a captivating species that has enraptured the admiration of bird enthusiasts across the globe. Originating from the Seram archipelago in eastern Indonesia, this bird seamlessly transitions from its native habitat to cherished homes as a beloved pet. 

Its distinct combination of intelligence, emotional complexity, and a robust need for human interaction renders it a truly unique companion. However, the decision to welcome a Moluccan Cockatoo into one’s life should not be taken lightly. These birds demand a substantial investment of time, attention, and care, necessitating a profound commitment from potential owners.

In its natural environment, the Moluccan Cockatoo confronts threats stemming from habitat loss and illegal trapping for the cage-bird trade, resulting in its classification as a Vulnerable species. While ongoing conservation efforts strive to address these challenges, a collective endeavor is imperative to ensure the continued existence of this captivating species in its native surroundings.

Whether contemplating the addition of a Moluccan Cockatoo to one’s household or simply intrigued by this remarkable bird, a comprehensive understanding of its needs, behaviors, and the challenges it confronts is vital. The world of the Moluccan Cockatoo unfolds as a captivating narrative marked by beauty, intelligence, and emotional depth.




  • Ali Shahid

    Ali Shahid is a veterinarian by profession and an animal lover. He loves to give expert opinions about different animals. He has worked in top organization of birds like Bigbird Feed and Poultry Research institute. He loves birds, especially parrots and has great experience in different parrot farms.

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