Posted By: Robert and Rocky


My cockatoo Rocky is still eating formula and she just turned 7 months old. I know she shouldn't be, but she barely eats anything else. When I purchased her she was 3 1/2 months old. I kept asking when should I wean her off the formula onto solid foods. The pet shop told me that she would basically start doing this on her own. Well I have tried to feed her every kind of bird food, human food etc. She just wont eat it. I buy every kind of treat they make, nuts you name it. I have to disclose one thing, when I first got her an accident happen to her. I was heating up pasta with a meat sauce in the microwave. When I took it out she was on her feeding perch in my kitchen. I think you can guess what happen next, she jumped on my plate of food, and jump right off screaming. I didn't think she had eaten anything, it all happened so fast. I immediately washed off her feet under the cool water from the sink. Turns out 5 days later on the last hand feeding of the day, I started00 seeing food running down her chest. At first I thought she had regurgitated the formula back up. Then to my shock and sadness I realized this was not the case. I spread her feathers apart to find a hole in her crop. Turns out she had swallowed a piece of ground beef. Panicked I called the vet. I found a board certified exotic animal specialist. I talk to this person the next morning and he told me I had two choices, NYC or Bed ford Hills NY. I took her to the Veterinary Center in Bed-ford, Hills NY. I got lucky and found a board certified avian veterinarian. Days later surgery fixed my Rocky as good as new. Thank God! My question is could this cause her to not want to eat solid foods? I have finally managed to skip the middle feeding, and she will eat this one brand of bird food, but barely. Most if the time she just tosses it out of her bowl. I know I am spoiling her, any suggestions ? I can even find a favorite food that she likes to train her ? Sorry my post was so long. Any input would be greatly appreciated

Posted By: Janny


You must read abundance weaning and fledging...
link for abundance weaning and fledging...

It's actually very illegal to sell an unweaned parrot or cockatoo. Disgusting how it still goes on...

None of us are vets. You must keep a good dialogue open with your vet. They can help you along and ensure your weaning properly.

Make sure to track weights weighing each morning before feeding for accurate weight. You may have to show this chick how to eat foods by sitting and eating with it. Making all kinds of yum sounds and make sure it's healthy foods.
Posted By: Specialist Elbru


This site is opposed to all breeding of parrots for pets. I am also vehemently opposed to the selling of unweened parrots to pet owners. Hand feeding is a very demanding job, that should not be attempted by the novice person even after a few in-store lessons. If anything goes wrong with the process, it is always the infant bird that pays the price.

The fact that you were able to go for 4 months and your poor bird only had to suffer only one incident of crop damage, is a testament that you did better than average. Many times, a chick will have to endure multiple incidents of crop damage at the hands of a novice.

I got lucky and found a board certified avian veterinarian. Days later surgery fixed my Rocky as good as new.
Rocky was defiantly lucky that you got him the surgery that he needed. Unfortunately, the surgery did not make him as good as new. The crop is a stretchy material that expands and collapses. After the surgery some of material became scare tissue which is less elastic. The incident will effect his eating for many months, if not the rest of his life.

The selling of unweened chicks to a person who in not certified to feed chicks may not be illegal in many US. states, but it should be. I consider it be almost a Bait and switch, the only deference is that you pay the veterinarian the money to correct the damage done by taking the bird home too soon. The only reason birds are sold so young is that the breeder/store can entice the customer with low prices. If you would have applied he money spent on the vet towards a bird that was "fully capable of self-feeding" these incidents would be avoided. (This site is still apposed to birds from breeders, I just consider it to be less bad)

I am not convinced that the crop damage was caused by the hot pasta incident, it could have been caused by a miss-feeding a few days later. I don't intend on arguing the point, because it is irrelevant what caused the crop damage. It is possible that the hot pasta incident has scarred Rocky away from trying other types of foods, It is really any ones guess at this point.

There are many things that make hand feeding dangerous for an infant bird. One is the temperature thing. The food must be feed at the parent bird's body temperature, just like your body temp it only varies by a Fahrenheit degree or two. A parent bird does not have to think about it, the food will naturally come out at the right temp. Bird's body temp is higher than a human. When a human has to prepare the food, it is very easy to make the food to hot or too cold just by missing the target temperature by 3 to 5 degrees. When a chick is very young, it's body can not produce the heat needed to warm the food. The crop empties into the stomach by reflex action. The chick's reflex action will not allow cold food to enter the stomach. This is why cold food can cause problems such as impacted crop and others. Once the bird is mature enough and "fully capable of self feeding" he/she can consume food at room temperature.

PS. I do not know which species of cockatoo Rocky is, larger species mature at a slower rate than smaller ones.

Posted By: Elliott


In the wild, the parents actually will feed the chicks for up to a year.

You are going to have to show Rocky what foods are good to eat. Cockatoos are flock eaters. If they see a flock member (you) eating something, then they know its safe to eat.

Make up a plate of pellets, veggies, fruit, and some people food. Sit on the floor or at the dinner table and have Rocky there. YOU start eating the food. Make a big deal about how good it is. Make all kinds of yummy sounds, BUT don't offer any to Rocky. You almost want to hog it for yourself. Rocky will try to steal some off the plate. When that happens you are on your way to weaning. Don't worry if Rocky just holds it or takes a nibble just keep at it. Have Rocky eat with you breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack time. Rocky will come around.

Cut the food into different shapes: stick, rounds, chunks, and such. Also, raw, slightly cooked, and fully cooked. *MAKE SURE ALL COOKED FOOD HAS COOLED.* The raw I find is better accepted if fed warm or room temperature.

Also, as Janny stated, track Rocky's weight. You can pick up a ounce/gram scale for about $25 at the office supply store.
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