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I wish I had seen you site 5 1/2 years ago before getting our Moluccan.These are BEAUTIFULL birds and LOVE SPONGES as you all refer to.BUT they are like Jeckel/Hyde. I am extremely upset. I had to give up my M2 last week to a rescue place after being bit 3 times on the face.One which sent me to the E.R. I have been bitten countless times on the hands also on the toes and back.He also struck at the corner of my eye twice [ thank God I had my glasses on or I would be missing an eye] I have been chased and chased around the house.Now, it's not like the bird hates me. He actually thinks I am his mate.I'd hate to be someone he hated! And when it's " that time of the month"for me I had to keep him caged.These birds have a strong big beak and can/will slice through human skin[or lips] like a knife to melty butter.I love him but for my own safety gave him up.Did I mention the plucking and screaming? I could tolerate that but not the attacks.Also I have been hoarse ever since I got him and can hardly breath out my nose.I know when you see one you just adore them but people need to read this site before getting one.


More Pet Shop Propaganda


I am so sad as I am writing this. Four days ago we decided to purchase a beautiful 6 year old male u2 from the neighborhood pet store. They were thrilled to have us purchase "Zoey" for our family.

When I came home and began to research how to care for cockatoos, I found your web site and was absolutely terrified by what we had done. I spoke with my husband and he told me to relax, we are a good family for a cockatoo...and in many respects he is right. I am a stay at home mom, and I have time to spend each day with a cockatoo. I love to cuddle with Zoey, and he took to my family immediately. I don't mind the mess,and taking daily care is not an issue. I even have someone to sit when we go on vacation. The vet proclaimed him in perfect health.

Unfortunately, the evening of day three brought a change in Zoey's otherwise quiet, cuddly, and loving personality. I guess he was "settled in". When I went to put him back in his (very large and centrally located) cage, he didn't want to go in and his method of letting me know this was to bite my finger hard enough to require four stitches. If it was not for my children, I could wait and see if this is a one time incident, or an idicator of future behavioral problems. With a house full of youngsters constantly running in and out, I cannot have an animal I do not trust completely. And, I don't want him to become bonded to me and then decide we have to give him up. It is hard enough, already.

We are fortunate because we insisted on a ten day trial period to make sure Zoey would be happy in our home of children and dogs, so Zoey will be going back to the pet store where we found him. They are caring there, although completely irresponsible for not requiring us to be informed before making our purchase.

Maybe one day when my children are grown I will be able to rescue one of these incredible creatures who should never have been brought into the home environment. Until then, I would like to make a donation to a rescue society...can you recommend one?

Thank you for your efforts in this matter.

Cathy J

A very rare letter.. why? Because she has had this cockatoo for 16 years! All of this time she has loved and cared for her baby.... guess what? :

I wish I had seen your site years ago. I have had parrots for years -- even breeding specialty lovebirds. I wanted a cockatoo since I fell in love with one at the Pittsburgh Aviary when I was a kid.

Well, I got one. Almost sixteen years ago. Boo (she is a lovely girl) was never weaned properly, pulled from her parents waaaay too early and consequently had no idea how to properly groom herself. She's been a feather chewer since I brought her home. She'd rather chew feathers (I equate it with thumb-sucking) than play with her expensive big old parrot knots with the wood and nuts! And she has always had lots of attention and the right foods.

I have become a reformed bird Mom. These large, intelligent birds should never be pets, ever. I intend to build her a room of her own (I live in WI and she must have a large place indoors) when I move into my new house. And indoor aviary with the walls, woodwork and flooring covered or inaccessible. I have also accepted the fact that she will never be a pretty bird -- I am lucky she doesn't do damage to anything other than the outer feathers -- I cannot bear to put an E-collar on her.

Keep up the good work. I love my girl, but know now that I should NEVER have been egotistical enough to think I could make her happy. I wish I had seen your site years ago. I like to think I would have listened.

Sybil (Boo's Mom)


Hi and thanks for such a wonderful site. I visited your site a year ago before I rescued my U2. I went ahead with my eyes wide open. You were right on every count. I am very glad I took my U2 home. He was a feather chewer and was filthy. It took a wire brush to get all the dried dropping off the bars and floor of the cage. He is now a beautiful and content bird who is out of his cage all day. I recently adopted a "naked" cockatoo. He was kept in a bathroom for years. Again, I visited your site. reminded myself of the noise, now times 2 and I went ahead. He is a doll and is learning to trust me and my husband.

People, please if you do purchase a Cockatoo, make the lifetime commitment. They can produce ear piercing screams and destroy furniture and your priceless antiques. They only do what comes naturally.

THANK YOU so much for your site. I recommend it to all my friends and aquaintences who think my birds are so "cute....where can I get one?"

God Bless Your Work


I just wanted to thank you for publishing a reality site about Cockatoos. I have a 13 yr old Goffins that was rescued at age 1 from an abusive situation, and a 5 yr old U2 that spent his first few years locked in a cellar, and then was given to someone who plaved him in a parakeet cage and got frustrated when he ripped the bars off and screamed constantly. Fortunately, neither is a plucker....yet....and if I do my job right, never will be. My Goffins, upon arrival, was dangerously unsocialized and aggressive. He had been locked in a cockatiel cage for the entire time his first home had him. He had had beer bottles thrown at his cage, and the cage had been hit and rattled repeatedly, leaving weakened bars and large dents. It took me a little more than a year, using one of his own feathers, to be able to scratch him behind his little crest. Another year later I could semi safely use my finger to do the same thing. 10 years later, I can now allow him on my shoulder for short periods without worrying (too much) about having my ear re-pierced. For those who think that love is all that is needed, think again...12 years of time and patience....endless patience, a good natural diet, regular vet visits, proper housing, lots of expensive toys that get destroyed in 10 minutes, my woodwork (chewed a hole straight through the wall).....and the list goes on.....and on. The U2 is our lateset addition. He hates men, more specifically, not all men, mostly just my husband. If I though my Goffins was a loud screamer.....heh, heh, heh.....boy was I in for a surprise. Nothing, and I mean NOTHING, can possibly prepare the average person for the screaming from a larger 'too. Your ears will pop, just like at high altitudes. I tell people to turn their TV to an untuned station, turn the volume all the way up, and imagine it 50 times louder. And that's the "quiet" scream. My U2 has this scream that souds like a thousand seagulls squawking in unison over a rock band's amplified concert speaker system. And I'm not positive that would be loud or shrill enough. The screaming at the beginning of this site is nothing....that's a quiet day at play! He's friendly enough with me, but has a long way to go. But whatever time he needs, I'm willing to give.

I wasn't prepared for the work and time and committment involved with my first 'too, the Goffins. I made a lot of mistakes, but was willing to do what I had to to make my bird happy, and fortunately (?) his life was so bad before me, that my mistakes didn't make anything worse. Now that I have the proper set-up....indoor and outdoor aviarys, work from home, birdy trust and care fund, etc.....I decided I could give time to another bird, hence the rescue of the U2. Having these birds in my family has meant giving up a lot of material things, stress between my husband and myself, hearing loss, higher utility bills, higher grocery bills, and little free time. I don't regret one thing that I have given up, but how many people are honestly willing to completely change their lives and homes for "just a bird"? Unfortunately, most people don't believe me when I relate what it takes to keep a happy, healthy bird. They just think I'm nuts. Maybe I am....but my birds are healthy, whole, and on the way to being happy.

Thanks again for the great site....Keep up the good work!


Thank you for your no-B.S. site. Right on the money! I don't believe that large birds should be outside of their wild habitats except for the modern, professionally run zoological environment.

My wife and I have a lifetime committment to our 8 year old Umbrella 'too, Popeye. After we are dead and buried, he lives with my son, who Popeye adores (mutual). I cannot call him a pet, he is simply a foster child who we rescued from neglect at age 2 1/2. After being kept on a display T-bar along with a macaw (who bullied him) by his first owner, he spent months in a pet shop where he demonstrated his total hatred for the males of the human species. The owner maintained that Popeye inflicted the most severe bites that he'd ever received from a parrot.

The second owner bought him when his wife requested a white bird for her birthday present. Desirous of keeping the budget low, he bought him a large cockatiel cage, which effectively inhibited movement. Even his 'umbrella' popped out of the top bars. His only company were the two small dogs that the never-present owners also kept. He still loves dogs today.

Our first cockatoo, Calvin, died of beak and feather disease. We'd purchased him from a shop where he was referred to as a boomerang bird, ie kept being returned. The little bugger had already had eight owners when we took him in (for a price, of course!). We had NO idea what the hell we were doing. Being cockatiel owners, we simply thought that it was a larger package. Didn't realise the astounding realities of avian intelligence. We learned everything the hard way, not to mention the complete heartbreak of having to kill him at the vet's when it became apparent via blood tests and visible conditions just what was happening. Calvin, to his credit, kept a jovial personality despite the horrors that were happening to his little body. However, in no way were we going to 'take him back'. He was our responsibility and we took it, including the guilt of realised stupidity.

Courtesy of Popeye and the passage of almost five years, I have two scars on my upper lip, one two stitches, the other five. I also have in excess of twenty deep puncture wounds and areas of permanent surface nerve damage on two of my fingers. In the correct light, the scars on my hand are numerous. Fortunately, the ones on my arms healed up well and I can't see the one where he tried to fit me for an earring. Like I said - he had truly learned to hate men. My wife, who took her share of abuse, fortunately didn't have to deal with the same level of severity. He liked women.

I've swatted at him more than once to divert his dreaded on foot, floor level attacks. Having done my homework after Calvin, the swats weren't reprisals or threats, just close enough to try to distract the overwrought commando. We could see it in his eyes...they would literally glaze just a fraction before he would go banzai on me. Too late to warn.....just to cringe at the inevitable. I'm sure our friends thought we were insane to put up with this level of abuse. If Popeye had been a dog, I would have had him put down. However, he was never a pet. He is welcomed as part of the family. Its a good thing, since he quite literally demands it anyway.

Our avian vet, Dr. MacDonald predicted that within five years of our rescuing Popeye, that he would be an ideal companion. During those years, I've often wondered, but never gave up. He has cost a fortune for his home (I refuse to call that mansion a cage), vet bills, toys and the food formula that I've concocted for him over the years. He is a permanent comittment and responsibility.

Finally, about a year ago, he made his last attack on me. I didn't know it at the time, just chalked it up to one of many. Since then, the psychotic eye changes have disappeared. He has accepted me as a member of his flock and is FINALLY comfortable with both my wife and I. I've always loved him, though at times with a jaundiced eye! It was amazing to have it returned.

My relationship with Popeye is one of the highlights of my life. To have come to a mutual respect, love and understanding with an avian is just wonderful. You have to be nuts....or at least it helps.

If we lost Popeye due to disease or accident, I wouldn't think twice about rescuing another. I will NEVER buy one from a breeder/pet store. I even wonder if the concept of recue isn't just a form of enabling, but I can't stand by and do nothing.

Excuse the ramble...just had to give your site two thumbs up and share some of the delights and travails :)



Some species of parrots should not be bred and raised in captivity by Lynn Alembik

Can you imagine what it would be like if we were the pets and parrots were the owners? Picture it - parrots living in the rainforest decide that humans would make nice pets. They undertake to breed and raise us in their version of captivity. We have to eat what they determine to be proper food for us - some variant of their normal diet - bugs, leaves, nuts we can't crack. But we love our bird family and try to adapt.

We live in the trees way up high over the ground. And we gingerly learn to climb and hop around the branches. All the while, something in our instinct keeps telling us it would be safer for us on the ground. But we love our bird family and try to adapt.. It rains - we get soaked. The sun burns our skin because we don't have feathers to protect us like our bird family. We are just not physically evolved to live in their natural environment and we get injured because of it. We want to be with other humans. We get frustrated that our bird owners want to be with us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We want privacy sometimes; our bird family doesn't understand that.

We go through puberty, longing for humans of the opposite sex. We love our bird family but can't quell the yearning we have deep in our subconscious for another existence.

What kind of life would that be?

I've kept parrots for over 14 years. But having seen feather picking and mutilation problems in friends' birds, and having had some behavioral feather picking problems in my own flock, I am beginning to think we are doing a grave injustice to the birds we purport to love.

When I first got into parrots, I read about captive breeding. It was presented as a solution to the threatened parrot populations in the wild. It seemed to make sense.

Now I am beginning to think that some species of parrots should not be bred and kept in captivity - it makes about as much sense as captive breeding lions to be kept as pets. The lions may imprint on humans, but when they mature sexually, they cannot be kept as pets - their instincts make it dangerous for humans.

I think that some birds - Moluccan cockatoos come to mind - bred and raised as pets, become dangerous to themselves when they mature. More and more parrot sanctuaries are cropping up throughout the country as people are discovering that these animals do not make good long-term pets. They are neither a domesticated animal nor a wild animal. They are in a category all by themselves that humans have unwittingly created.

They are in limbo. What have we done?

In memory of Buddy. 1996 - 2002.


Aug 26...

Someone please help! I recently purchased a 20 year old female moluccan. I knew by her age I was taking a chance on behavior problems. She has had several owners, so many so that no-one seems to know anything about her. The first couple of days she was sweet to everyone. Then when my husband would get home from work (I stay home all day) she would start screaming so we thought she wanted his attention. Then he was playing with her on the floor and she bit him HARD. We thought she just got to excited and we wouldn't make that mistake again. Then again last night she took a chunk out of his wrist. He was upset, but didn't give up on her. Then as he was setting her back on her perch she latched onto his knuckle, we heard it crack. She had broken his finger and split the skin to the bone. Now he hates her and is scared of her. She has never been aggressive with me, but I to am leery of picking her up. This morning my daughter was walking by her cage as she was getting ready for school and she reached out and bit her too. My daughter is only 6, but knows better than to put her fingers in the cage, I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't seen it with my own eyes. She has also started screaming all night and all day...WHAT'S GOING ON????? I am scared to death my husband is going to make me try and find her a home. I think she just needs a mate and more room?? But why is she biting to MAIM? Please HELP ME!!!! (Posted on our messageboard at


Buddy came into my life six years ago at the age of six months. Being retired I had the time, desire, and dedication for this lifelong commitment. Buddy was on the Alicia McWaters mash diet supplemented with pellets, fresh fruits and veges, pasta, and brazil nuts (no seeds) all healthy human foods. He was only in his six foot cage to sleep. All of his meals were with his human flock. He had several play stations throughout the house so he was never in a room alone.He had a thirty foot screened and roofed patio with a custom built play station so he could be outdoors for fresh air and sunlight. He bathed daily in our roman tub and would stay for hours if we let him.

He loved the water. He learned to play catch with my husband.He would play monkey in the middle. He ran around the house singing and dancing. He would laugh his head off with hide and seek and yell peek a boo when he found you. He was so intelligent and eager to learn. My husband and I took separate vacations for fear that it would be too devastating for Buddy if we were both absent at the same time.

As he got older we had to continually think of stimulating activities to keep him from getting bored. He learned how to lace and unlace shoes. I would make him handheld toys and he would take them apart and reconstruct them. He would take stainless steel bolts ,nuts and wing nuts and put them together and take them apart. He was not yet the typical moluccan squawk screamer. He had an extensive vocabulary and also spoke in sentences. So when he screamed it was mama, mama , MAMA!!!!!!!!

Buddy was fully flighted but never flew. At two years old there was an episode where he mutilated some primary flight feathers. The so called experts told me his feathers were trimmed too short causing discomfort and therefore he chewed them.I pulled them and when the new feathers came in I never trimmed them again. He was put in a collar and on chemicals when they were pulled after two weeks I decided that I couldn't bear to see him so miserable.

Over the years he would chew a flight feather here and there, I would pull it and a new one would grow. A couple of weeks ago I noticed a change in his behavior. He was chewing his toys and destroying wood. It appeared to me to be excessive even for a moluccan. He was becoming a little aggressive toward me when I would go to put him in his cage to go to sleep after being out for ten hours. Then he mutilated about seven flight feathers. I pulled them as I have in the past. When the new blood feathers started to come in he mutilated them, causing bleeding of course.

In the three days to follow everything escalated so fast. He mutilated all the extremities. At this point I knew he was desperately in trouble. He was self destructing. I rushed him to his vet , who knew him and the care he had and she said it probably was not medical. She said to put him in a collar and start him on chemicals and he might very well have to live like that for the rest of his life. It would prevent him from physically doing more harm to himself, but mentally he would still be going crazy.

So, on that day August 13,2002 two days shy of his sixth birthday I asked the vet to put my boy down. As I held Buddy and watched as he took his last breaths and closed his eyes I did not feel guilty and I did not feel as though I failed him. I know my husband and I gave Buddy 100% for six years and he gave us 100% in return. He is at peace, We are at peace and he will always be in our hearts.

Sincerely, Rita H.