Cockatoos may not have the bright plumage of other parrots, but they have “colorful” personalities that make them one of the best pets you can ever own. They are sociable and affectionate birds, earning the nickname “Velcro birds” because of the way they get attached to their human flock. They are also intelligent, playful, and prolific talkers.
Origins of Cockatoos
There are 21 varieties of cockatoos, and more than half are endemic to Australia. The 7 others can be found in New Guinea, the South Pacific, and Indonesia. In fact, the word “cockatoo” came from the Indonesian words kaka (which means parrot). The word can also be translated to “older sister” – a play on this cockatoo’s habit of preening like a little lady.
The most common cockatoos are the Moluccan, the Umbrella, and the Goffin. Sulphur Crested, the Lesser Sulphur Crested. Common colors are white with a bright yellow or salmon crest. You can also find grey cockatoos with pink breasts, or even black. Cockatoos are usually 12 to 25 inches tall.
Cockatoos and Parrots
Cockatoos share many characteristics with other parrots, including the shape of the beak and the highly flexible zygodactyl foot (which has two toes in the back and two in the front). This allows them to grasp thick tree branches or pick up very small and delicate seeds.
However cockatoos tend to have plainer feathers—unlike parrots, whose Dyck texture feather composition reflects light and allows that bright blue and green coloring.
Cockatoos make up for their lack of bright coloring with a movable head crest, which can flare open when they are excited, angry or scared. They are very vain birds, actually, and have a tendency to preen their feathers…sometimes too much. Shredding, tearing and plucking can occur, and in some cases, the cockatoos can actually injure their skin, causing infections.
There are also some anatomical differences between cockatoos and parrots (for example, they have a gall bladder). Thus, scientists tend to group them as a separate family of birds.
Cockatoos are incredibly friendly birds, due to their instinct to fly in flocks. In the wild, they can congregate in groups of 30 or more. They naturally desire companionship, and are quite affectionate. In fact, there are cases when cockatoos are so close to their mate that they will bond for life.
Cockatoos are also intelligent, and will need constant stimulation and interaction or simply go mad from boredom! There are times when neglected cockatoos actually begin to hurt themselves rather than bear the burden of lonely captivity. Before buying cockatoos, understand that they need plenty of attention and care. They are sensitive creatures, who need caring and devoted owners—and will reward them for their efforts with a lifetime of love.
More Cockatoos Articles
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