Most people not familiar with large
parrots fail to see the “Big Picture
Beautiful and Cuddly: These are the words normally used to describe one of natures most unusual parrots, the Moluccan Cockatoo. It’s unusual in that it’s one of the few “lap birds, and acts more like a dog than a bird sometimes. As babies, Moluccans so easily touch your heart that it’s hard to walk away from them without taking one home. Their liquid eyes look like black pools of inquisitiveness as they carefully study your facial expressions, and you seem to be able to look right into their very souls. Both Moluccans and Umbrella cockatoos possess a sweetness that few parrots can match, for awhile. As all good things must come to an end however, so goes the sweetness as these babies mature. This is not to say that there will be a complete change, but the odds are great that the ‘Too you’ll wind up with years later is not the sweetness and light you brought home. Do all birds change? No. Will most change to some degree? You’d better believe it! And it’s these changes that sometimes drives owners to rescues.
One of the most mentally and emotionally complicated parrots to deal with, the Moluccan is more than a handful for all but the most dedicated parrot lover.
Few people can provide for the many needs of these special birds. Proof of this is the fact that most parrot rescues are full of Mollucan and Umbrella cockatoos, and the newspaper classifieds across the nation are full of “for sale” ads for these birds.
The strangest circumstances can cause these parrots to become self mutilators or complete terrors to their owners. Lack of interaction, wrong foods, bad placement, improper cages and many other factors can contribute to a “problem” cockatoo.
Volumes have been printed in many languages attempting to resolve these “problems”, and many are helpful. But a lot of psychobabble has been printed also. So as we continue to read and study everything we can get our hands on, many Moluccans and Umbrellas (along with some other’ Too species) continue to self destruct.
The bottom line is that there is much more than meets the eye when considering a parrot such as these. Many pet stores and breeders only want to sell birds, and if forced to tell the truth, wouldn’t be able to sell nearly as many as they do now.
As the popularity of these ‘Toos increase, the truth is much harder to find. This is why I recommend talking to long term cockatoo owners. (A short term owner hasn’t had the time to see the end result).Find as many owners as possible and do your research from places that have no vested interest in the selling of parrots or parrot products. Also talk to the many parrot rescues. They will normally give you the real low-down on this species and you may possibly want to adopt instead of purchase. Do the research you’ll really need in making your decision to purchase one of these wonderful but taxing creatures..
Like a childless couple that THINK they know what having children would be like,(but don’t really have a clue until they’ve arrived),many parrot owners find out the hard way also. Oh sure.....they’re wonderful and smart and entertaining. But depending on the species, a parrot can take up more time, cause more aggravation, and completely drive you nuts in a matter of weeks! That’s why there are so many parrot rescues out there. Is it the birds fault? Absolutely not! It’s the owners fault for buying something that he or she hasn’t researched thoroughly. ( and both WILL suffer the consequences )
Right up front, I don’t think large cockatoos should be kept for 90 years in a cage. These majestic creatures deserve to be free as God intended. Now, that not withstanding, I know its just not going to happen. Also note that I do not accept advertising! Most Dot Com Parrot sites are paid for by parrot products companies. This means that the site must be pro parrot, but more importantly “pro ownership” which in turn means that you don’t always get the entire picture about parrots and parrot ownership. They cant afford to tell all the negative aspects because they’d lose their advertisers. Heck, I’M pro parrot, but I’m NOT pro ownership for every Tom , Dick and Mary that has a few bucks, or who are just bored and are looking for something to do for a couple of hours a day. There are a few good “sponsored” websites out there, but you new people don’t have a clue as to which is really telling you the truth. That’s why I built this site. Start here and use the info I provide to help you weed out the bad breeders - pet stores - web sites - and the many other aspects of the cockatoo business.(You’re going to need all the help you can get. )So with that in mind.......
You and your wife (or if you’re single) work everyday, but you’d like a nice bird. One that will sit on your hand, and maybe even talk. You then are looking at something like a Cockatiel or Quaker Parrot. They don’t mind too much that you’re gone all day, and don’t need a great deal of attention. But lets say you’ve walked into a pet store (bad idea to start with) and see a beautiful Moluccan Cockatoo as pictured above:
First .. you pay a very high price,($2000. And up) and a few months later find that the bird has plucked out all of his feathers! He’s no longer beautiful! And worse yet, your new pet is screaming the loudest screams that you’ve ever heard in your life! Your neighbors are now complaining! And YOU wonder what went wrong. *Note: There is a difference in a cockatoo that is screaming and a cockatoo that is “Displaying” A “displaying” cockatoo is a HAPPY cockatoo and that’s what you want! They usually do this twice a day for about 5 minutes or so. Yes...its usually just as loud as a screaming cockatoo. Be aware however that baby cockatoos are QUIET, and CUDDLY. They will not make a lot of noise for about a year or more. And any breeder or pet store that would sell you a baby cockatoo (Umbrella or Moluccan) under 6 to 7 months of age is a place to be avoided at all cost! These are bird mills, and they cause more damage to these creatures in the long run than anything I can think of.
In the case of a large Cockatoo, if you consider them as children then you START to get the big picture. You wouldn’t lock a child in a cage and go to work, and so neither do you leave large Cockatoos alone every day. I recommend that someone be home most of the time before you even consider owning a Cockatoo. They are the most emotional of all the species. In return for the “cuddles” that you were after, you will be required to return the favor by spending LOTS of time with them. “Most of the time” however doesn’t mean 8 hours a day. At the same time, 8 hours a day away from the house while working is much too long. Dont even try it.(Do you really have time for this?)
Now, why are they like children? Because we don’t allow them to be birds! We don’t provide the large outdoor aviaries that they really need. We don’t keep the environment that allows them to not bond with us SO tight that they go crazy when we’re gone. These birds attach themselves so rapidly to humans, that they have earned the name “Velcro Birds”. Why? Because when all they have is that super intelligent brain and YOU... cooped up in that house with YOU...languishing in that cage with just YOU to look at...Then its YOU who must provide all of the birds entertainment and interaction needs. This is why MOST people should never own one. Because if you cant provide the above, you are making a child monster. And that child is gonna be 2 years old for 90 years. How old are YOU now?
Lets talk about upkeep and quirks: Of course they must have LOTS of EXPENSIVE TOYS (unless you make your own as I usually do) to keep them busy! They must also have a very large cage. That will set you back around $800.00 or more. (A cheaper cage is useless!) Note again: A LARGE cockatoo really needs an aviary, not just a cage, and NEVER ever attempt to stuff a large ‘Too in a small cage!
Then there’s the cockatoo dust, lots of it! Do you or anyone in your family have allergies? Wrong bird!
And preening.....’Toos have very long feathers on their heads that they cant reach. If you only have one ‘Too, plan on preening his head every few days. This does two things: It helps his irritation and it’s the BEST bonding practice between you and your bird. Nothing beats it.
Then there’s your CHILDREN....Cockatoos normally don’t like small children. I have seen otherwise “normal” cockatoos attack small children for no reason. Is it because the children are fast or flighty? Is it their voice or mannerisms? I don’t know the answer to this. All I know is that even if your cockatoo (or any parrot) is nice to your kids, NEVER EVER allow them near your kids faces without complete supervision, and even then you are taking a chance. Plastic surgery is not something you want to put your child through ! Its your call.
HOW ABOUT FOOD? No No!. Not seeds!
YOU COOK FOR THEM! That’s right! Green beans and corn and carrots and (insert any vegetable here) and brown beans and rice and the list goes on and on. Then there’s the avian pellets or chows, fruits and nuts and so forth. Get the picture? Sure you want to do this?
But as I said earlier, most important is the TIME that you must spend with them! You have to take them out every day (several times a day usually) and PLAY with them! Just like a child! Please keep in mind that I’m talking about large Cockatoos here. Other Parrots are quite different. Do the research on several types and ask people who OWN them, not sell them....
Special Note To The Ladies:
What happens if you get pregnant? More cockatoos are shoved out of otherwise loving homes due to pregnancy than anything else (except for divorce) due to the fact that the woman now has a new interest that she must focus on, and doesn’t need: The demands of 2 babies at once.... The noise that a cockatoo can make to scare the newborn.... Or the possible danger of a large jealous bird in the same house with a baby ......Think about these things just in case you DO get pregnant. In divorce cases, many previous stay-at-home moms must enter the work force, and many move from a house to an apartment. This is a double whammy and the bird must go. These are examples of things you have little control over. So all I’m asking you to do is consider these possibilities down the road, and try to think about what YOU would do IF... ( Try to have a “Plan B” in place at all times.)
NOW....ASK YOURSELF THESE QUESTIONS
1. Owning a bird can cost money. Food, toys, and vets can soon add up. Do you HAVE an avian vet in your area?
2. Many birds go through a period of adjustment. They may bite, or just avoid you altogether. Do you have the patience to deal with this without getting discouraged? It can take a long time if the birds been abused.
3. A parrot can live from 10 to 90 years. It can be a LIFETIME pet. Are you ready for this? And what will happen to the bird when you die? Think about it!
4. When you go away on vacation, who will care for the bird? Many people are afraid of large parrots. What if the bird gets out of its cage? Can they handle that?
5. Do you have the TIME to devote to the bird? Will you be able to play with it everyday, and maybe let it safely fly? Will the bird have more room than just its cage?
6. (Be aware however, “T” stands and‘Toos don’t mix, as they are MUCH too active to sit on a stand. As soon as you leave the room, they are OUTTA THERE!)
7. Do you have room for a LARGE cage? And what about the droppings here and there? Mind a little damage now and then to things in your home? It WILL happen, trust me! (Maybe even LOTS of damage.)
8. Is anyone in your family allergic to feathers and in the case of Cockatoos, lots of dust? (How do you think they stay so white?)
9. Do you have other pets in the house? Will they get along with your bird and vice versa? Cats can kill a bird just with its saliva. Are you willing to risk that?
10. Parrots are normally very shy of small children and I don’t recommend giving large parrots to children period! But if you DO give child a pet bird, are YOU willing to take responsibility if the child gets BIT or gets tired of the bird? Its YOUR fault if that happens.
11. Forget everything you know about pets when it comes to birds. Many birds are just as EMOTIONAL as humans. Can you deal with this? Can you deal with your husband/ wife/kids? If not, better steer clear of parrots! (See my behavior Page)
Some bird owners will look at this page as being overly negative...
I’m trying not to be.... But people call and e-mail me every week with the same story: “I had NO idea of what I was getting into!”. They tell me that their birds are constantly screaming.....or plucking out their feathers...or WORSE... (like nipping their skin till they bleed to death.)
Please people...It breaks my heart to see the end results of what can happen when a person doesn’t have a clue. And I know that after all of this, it may be hard to convince you that Parrots are the most wonderful animals on earth. But they ARE or CAN be....Its all up to you.
Only 10% of the parrot owners out there are actually capable of providing all the needs of a large bird. And I hope you’re one. Many think they are, and many try. But you really have to have lots of time, lots of patience, and plenty of love. If so, a large Parrot will repay your kindness many times over, and you will never look at “birds” the same again. But if you’re the ‘average” buyer, you too will be running ads like these and helping to destroy any future confidence your bird may have had. On the other hand, hopefully your bird will be better off without you in their lives. Please consider carefully what you are about to do. Save both you and the bird heartache.
Please be careful in selecting your pet. Do this, and I guarantee a LIFETIME of love and devotion.