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How To Care For Cockatoos

Feb 27, 2008
Cockatoos are fascinating birds and will, with the right care, make delightful companions. They are of the order Psittaciformes family Ka-katoeinae. Their range is confined to Australasia, as far East as the Solomon Is., North to the Philippines, and West to the Celebes and Lombok.

Most Cockatoos are white, although some are gray, brown or black. All but a few have a crest. They represent an advance in the evolution of Parrots, and are seemingly more intelligent. Some species make good talkers when tame and taught young; although in this respect they don't equal the Hill Mynah, African Grey and large Amazon Parrots. They learn tricks more readily than these other birds. The all white and rosy white species of Cockatoos are about 15 in number.

Cockatoos have feathers which other birds don't have. These are fine, waxy filaments on the body and under the wings, which break into a fine waxy powder when this bird preens itself. This is what aids it to retain the snow-white plumage which is so much admired, as this powder is thus distributed throughout its feathers. It appears also that this waxy powder makes their feathers water repellent. If out in the rain, it is usually the feathers of the tail and wing tips only that get wet.

Cockatoos, especially the larger ones such as the Greater Sulphur Crested, live to a more venerable age than even the proverbially long-lived Parrot. They may reach 100 years, which makes it the longest lived of birds. Naturally this depends on the good general care it receives. These are mostly large birds suitable for large enclosures in bird collections. The smaller ones make nice house pets and are very exotic-looking.

Cockatoos do better on stands or large cages than when confined in a small cage. An outdoor aviary with shelter and flight is better yet. If kept in a cage in the house, their cage should be 4 feet long, and 3 feet wide, by 3 feet high. A stand with the ends of the perch metal-covered would take up less room.

Incidentally, these birds may be acclimatized outdoors the year round, being thickly feathered. If kept on a stand, or in a cage or aviary, supply them with a block of wood or a branch of a non-poisonous tree to keep them occupied and to exercise their strong bills on. This will also help prevent the bad habit of feather plucking.

BREEDING

These beautiful birds are well worth breeding. The dimensions of their enclosure should be 30 feet long, by 8 feet high, by 8 feet wide. Perches should be large, and placed only at either end of the enclosure to compel flight, as these birds are as lazy as Parrots in that respect. Both sexes usually share in incubation. A suitable nest easy to obtain would be a large barrel.

Cut a hole in the top of it just large enough for them to enter, and inside the barrel from the hole to the bottom, place a strip of 1 inch wire mesh netting. The barrel bottom should be concave in the center, to prevent the eggs rolling to the sides. To accomplish this, put in a layer of twigs, or wood chips or a section of turf upside-down making a hollow. A large branch should be attached to or near the nest box.

Two to three eggs form the clutch, and the incubation period lasts about a month depending on size of bird and species. The young remain in the nest about two months. When breeding, the parents should have solitude, and be disturbed as little as possible.

It would be a proud day for you to have succeeded in breeding a Cockatoo.
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