Welcome to the world of cockatoo care! As a responsible pet owner, it’s crucial to ensure that your feathered friend receives the best possible care to live a healthy and happy life. Cockatoos are intelligent creatures that require attention, affection, and proper care to thrive.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about cockatoo care, from understanding their behavior to creating the perfect habitat and providing a balanced diet. We’ll also discuss how to maintain your bird’s health, train them with positive reinforcement techniques, and socialize them effectively.

Whether you’re a new or experienced owner, this guide will equip you with the knowledge and tools to provide your cockatoo with the care they need, ensuring a lifetime of enjoyment for both you and your feathered friend.

Understanding Cockatoo Behavior for Effective Care

Cockatoos are sociable, intelligent birds that require consistent and attentive care to thrive. Understanding their behavior is crucial for providing adequate care and meeting their physical and emotional needs. Here, we’ll explore some common cockatoo behaviors and how you can work with them to create a happy and healthy living environment for your feathered friend.

1. Vocalization

Cockatoos are known for their loud vocalizations, which can range from screeching to singing. While noisy, vocalizing is a natural behavior for cockatoos and a way to communicate. However, excessive vocalization can signal stress or boredom, so pay attention to your bird’s body language and vocal cues to determine if they need more attention or stimulation.

2. Chewing and Destroying

Cockatoos love to chew and destroy things, and it’s not uncommon for them to shred through wood, fabric, and even metal. This behavior helps keep their beaks healthy and sharp, but can also be destructive. Provide safe and sturdy toys for them to play with, and regularly rotate them to keep your bird engaged and entertained.

3. Bonding

Cockatoos are social birds that form strong bonds with their owners and other birds. It’s important to spend time with your bird daily to establish and maintain a bond. Regular handling, affection, and playtime can promote positive behaviors and prevent negative ones like aggression or feather plucking.

4. Body Language

Cockatoos use their body language to communicate their mood and intentions. Pay attention to their posture, feather position, and eye contact to understand how they’re feeling. For example, a cockatoo with raised feathers and dilated pupils may be excited or agitated, while a bird with ruffled feathers and closed eyes may be relaxed or sleepy.

By observing and understanding the behaviors of cockatoos, you can provide a safe and stimulating environment that meets their physical and emotional needs. In the following sections, we’ll explore how to create the perfect habitat, feed them a balanced diet, maintain their health, and more.

Creating the Perfect Cockatoo Habitat

Providing a suitable habitat is essential for the health and happiness of your cockatoo. Their habitat should be spacious, safe, and stimulating, mimicking their natural environment.

Cage Size

The cage should be big enough for your cockatoo to move around and stretch its wings freely. A good rule of thumb is to select a cage that allows your bird to fully extend its wings and fly a short distance. A minimum cage size of 36” L x 24” W x 48” H is recommended for smaller cockatoo species, while larger species, such as the umbrella cockatoo, require a cage of at least 48” L x 36” W x 60” H.

Perch Types

Variety is key when it comes to perch types. Cockatoos enjoy different sizes and textures, so provide a mix of natural wood and man-made perches. The diameter should be wide enough for your bird to grasp comfortably, ideally between 1” and 2 ½”. Be sure to position the perches at different heights to encourage movement and exercise.

Environmental Enrichment

Cockatoos are intelligent and curious birds that require environmental enrichment to prevent boredom and stress. Place toys and other items in the cage to keep your bird entertained, such as ropes, swings, and foraging toys. Rotate the toys regularly to maintain their interest.

Provide plenty of toys and activities to keep your cockatoo mentally stimulated.Use toxic materials or small, easily ingestible toys that can harm your bird.
Rotate the toys and activities in the cage to prevent boredom.Place the cage in a drafty or noisy area that can cause stress for your bird.
Provide different types of perches to encourage movement and exercise.Use sandpaper perch covers that can cause irritation and injury to your bird’s feet.

Cockatoo Diet: Nourishing Your Feathered Friend

Proper nutrition is essential to the health and well-being of your cockatoo. Like all parrots, cockatoos require a varied and balanced diet consisting of fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and grains.

Tip: Offer a variety of foods to your cockatoo to ensure they receive a wide range of nutrients. This can also prevent boredom and increase their interest in eating.

What to Feed Your Cockatoo

Food GroupExamples
FruitsApples, bananas, grapes, oranges, papayas, pineapples, berries, melons
VegetablesCarrots, broccoli, cauliflower, sweet potatoes, squash, leafy greens, peppers, beans
Nuts and SeedsAlmonds, walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, flax seeds
Grains and LegumesBrown rice, quinoa, oats, barley, lentils, chickpeas

Tip: Avoid feeding your cockatoo avocado, chocolate, caffeine, alcohol, and high-fat or high-sugar foods, as they can be toxic or unhealthy for your bird.

How Much to Feed Your Cockatoo

  • Offer fresh food twice a day, removing any uneaten food after a few hours to prevent spoilage.
  • Provide enough food to satisfy your bird’s appetite, but avoid overfeeding, as obesity can lead to health problems.
  • Supplement their diet with a small amount of commercial bird food designed for cockatoos, such as pelleted food or seed mixtures.

Tip: Consult your veterinarian for guidance on the optimal amount and type of food to feed your cockatoo based on their age, weight, and activity level.

Water and Supplements

  • Provide fresh, clean water at all times in a separate bowl or water bottle.
  • Consider offering a calcium supplement, such as cuttlebone or mineral blocks, to help maintain your bird’s bone health.
  • Consult your veterinarian before giving your cockatoo any additional supplements or vitamins.

By providing your cockatoo with a healthy and balanced diet, you can help ensure its longevity and vitality.

Maintaining Cockatoo Health: Common Issues and Care Tips

As with any pet, it’s essential to prioritize the health and wellness of your cockatoo. While they can live long and healthy lives, cockatoos may be prone to certain health issues that need to be addressed promptly. Here are some common health problems that cockatoos may face and tips on how to take care of your feathered friend.

Health IssueSymptomsTreatment and Prevention
Feather PluckingExcessive preening, bald patches, broken feathersThis behavior can be caused by stress, boredom, or illness. To prevent feather plucking, provide plenty of mental stimulation, minimize stress, and ensure a healthy diet. If the behavior continues, consult a veterinarian.
Respiratory InfectionsDifficulty breathing, wheezing, discharge from eyes and nostrilsCockatoos are susceptible to respiratory infections, which can be caused by bacteria, viruses, or fungi. To prevent respiratory illnesses, maintain good hygiene in the bird’s living area and avoid exposing them to cigarette smoke or other pollutants. If you notice any symptoms, seek veterinary care immediately.
PsittacosisFlu-like symptoms, eye and nose discharge, difficulty breathingPsittacosis is a bacterial infection that can be transmitted from birds to humans. To prevent infection, practice good hygiene when handling and cleaning up after your cockatoo. If you suspect your bird may have psittacosis, seek veterinary care and inform your doctor.

While taking care of your cockatoo’s physical health is crucial, providing for their emotional well-being is just as important. Cockatoos are social birds and need plenty of attention and interaction to thrive. Be sure to spend time playing and bonding with your bird and providing plenty of toys and other forms of mental stimulation.

Cockatoo Training: Building a Bond and Teaching Tricks

Cockatoos are intelligent and social birds that thrive on positive interaction with their human companions. Training your cockatoo can strengthen the bond between you and provide mental stimulation for your feathered friend. Follow these tips for effective cockatoo training:

Start with Basic Commands

Begin with simple commands, such as teaching your cockatoo to step up onto your hand or to come when called. Use positive reinforcement techniques, such as offering a treat or praise, to reward your bird for following your command. Consistency is key; practice the command regularly until your bird has mastered it.

Use Positive Reinforcement

Positive reinforcement is the best way to train your cockatoo, as punishment or negative reinforcement can damage the trust between you and your bird. Use treats, praise, and attention to encourage good behavior, and ignore or redirect negative behavior. Remember to be patient, as it may take time for your bird to learn a new command.

Keep Training Sessions Short

Cockatoos have short attention spans, so keep training sessions brief. Start with just a few minutes and gradually increase the length of sessions as your bird becomes more comfortable with training. Training sessions should also be fun and engaging for your bird, so incorporate games and toys into the routine.

Be Creative with Tricks

Cockatoos are natural performers and love to show off their talents. Once your bird has mastered basic commands, try teaching it fun and creative tricks, such as waving, playing dead, or ringing a bell. Use positive reinforcement to encourage your bird to perform these tricks on command.

With patience and positive reinforcement, your cockatoo can learn a variety of commands and tricks, providing mental stimulation and strengthening the bond between you and your feathered friend.

Cockatoo Grooming: Keeping Your Bird in Top Shape

Proper grooming is essential for the health and well-being of your cockatoo. Regular grooming not only helps maintain your bird’s physical appearance, but it also helps to prevent illness and injury. Here are some important grooming tasks that all cockatoo owners should be familiar with:

Nail Trimming

Cockatoos have very sharp claws that can cause injury to both humans and other birds. Regular nail trimming is necessary to keep your bird’s claws at a safe length. You can use a pair of bird nail clippers to trim your cockatoo’s nails. Be careful not to cut the quick, which is the blood vessel that runs through the nail. If you’re unsure about how to trim your bird’s nails, ask your veterinarian or a professional bird groomer for assistance.

Feather Maintenance

Feathers are an important part of a cockatoo’s appearance and also serve many important functions, such as regulating body temperature and aiding in flight. Regular feather maintenance is necessary to keep your bird’s feathers in good condition. This includes providing adequate bathing opportunities and ensuring that your bird has access to a variety of perches of varying textures and diameters to help prevent feather damage.


Providing your cockatoo with regular opportunities to bathe is essential for maintaining good feather health. You can offer your bird a shallow dish of water in which to bathe or use a spray bottle to mist the feathers. Always make sure that the water temperature is lukewarm, and avoid getting water in your bird’s eyes or ears.

Beak Trimming

Cockatoos’ beaks are made of keratin, the same material as human nails. Overgrown beaks can cause discomfort and can interfere with your bird’s ability to eat and play. If your bird’s beak is overgrown, it’s important to seek professional help from a veterinarian or bird groomer to have it trimmed properly.


Grooming should be a regular part of your cockatoo care routine. By maintaining your bird’s nails, feathers, and beak, you can help prevent illness and injury, as well as ensure that your feathered friend looks and feels their best.

Socializing Cockatoos: Fostering a Well-Adjusted Bird

Cockatoos are sociable and highly intelligent birds that require daily interaction with their human companions and other pets. Socialization is crucial for their mental well-being, as it helps them build trust, confidence, and a sense of security. Here are some tips on how to socialize cockatoos and ensure they become well-adjusted pets:

Start Early

Start socializing your cockatoo from an early age. Cockatoos that are not handled or interacted with regularly during the first few months of their lives may become shy, fearful, and aggressive. Handle your bird gently and frequently, and introduce it to different people and pets as early as possible.

Be Patient

Cockatoos can be slow to warm up to new people and environments. Be patient and allow your bird to explore its surroundings at its own pace. Avoid forcing your bird to interact with someone or something that it is scared of, as this can lead to negative associations and behaviors.

Provide Positive Reinforcement

Positive reinforcement techniques can help your cockatoo associate people and activities with positive experiences. Use treats, praise, and toys to reward good behavior, such as allowing someone to handle it or trying a new activity. Avoid punishing your bird, as this can lead to fear and aggression.

Expose Your Bird to Different Experiences

Exposing your cockatoo to different experiences can help it become more comfortable and adaptable. Take your bird on walks, introduce it to new toys and games, and expose it to different sounds and environments. This can help your bird build confidence and reduce anxiety.

Monitor Interactions with Other Pets

If you have other pets, it is important to monitor their interactions with your cockatoo. Some pets may see cockatoos as prey and try to attack them, while others may accidentally harm them with aggressive play. Always supervise interactions and separate your cockatoo from other pets if necessary.


Socializing your cockatoo is an essential part of maintaining its mental and emotional well-being. With patience, positive reinforcement, and exposure to different experiences, your cockatoo can become a well-adjusted and happy companion. Remember to always monitor interactions with other pets and seek professional help if you notice any concerning behaviors.

Choosing the Right Toys for Cockatoos: Fun and Enrichment

Cockatoos are intelligent and playful birds that require mental stimulation to stay healthy and happy. Choosing the right toys and activities can provide essential enrichment for your feathered friend.

Here are some tips on selecting appropriate toys for your cockatoo:

Type of ToyDescription
Chew ToysCockatoos love to chew and shred things, so providing them with chew toys made from natural materials like wood, paper, and leather can keep them entertained while also promoting healthy beak and jaw activity.
Puzzle ToysPuzzle toys that require your cockatoo to figure out how to unlock or manipulate different components can provide mental stimulation and help with problem-solving skills. Look for puzzles with different levels of difficulty to keep your cockatoo challenged.
Foraging ToysForaging toys that require your cockatoo to work to uncover hidden treats can provide both mental and physical stimulation while also encouraging natural foraging behaviors.
Noise-Making ToysCockatoos are known for their vocal abilities, so toys that make noise can be particularly enjoyable for them. Look for toys with bells, rattles, and other noise-making components.

It’s also important to rotate your cockatoo’s toys regularly to prevent boredom and ensure continued engagement. Observe your bird’s play habits to determine which toys they prefer and which ones may need to be replaced or removed.

Frequently Asked Questions about Cockatoo Care

Here are some common questions and answers about cockatoo care:

  1. What size cage does a cockatoo need?
    Cockatoos need a spacious cage that allows them to move around and stretch their wings. The minimum recommended size for a cockatoo cage is 36 inches long, 24 inches wide, and 48 inches tall.
  2. What type of food should I feed my cockatoo?
    Cockatoos need a varied diet that includes fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains, and protein sources. It’s best to avoid feeding them high-fat and high-sugar foods such as seeds, chocolate, and avocado.
  3. When should I take my cockatoo to the vet?
    You should take your cockatoo to the vet for regular check-ups and if you notice any signs of illness such as loss of appetite, lethargy, or changes in behavior. It’s important to find an avian veterinarian who is experienced in treating cockatoos.
  4. How often should I groom my cockatoo?
    You should groom your cockatoo regularly to keep its feathers, nails, and beak in good condition. Nail trimming should be done every 4-6 weeks, while feather maintenance and bathing can be done as needed.
  5. Can cockatoos be trained to do tricks?
    Yes, cockatoos are highly intelligent and can be trained to do a variety of tricks using positive reinforcement techniques. However, training should be done gradually and with patience to avoid overwhelming or stressing out your bird.
  6. How can I socialize my cockatoo?
    Socializing your cockatoo involves spending time with them, playing games, and allowing them to interact with other humans and pets in a safe and controlled environment. It’s important to establish trust and build a strong bond with your cockatoo to ensure they are well-adjusted and happy.
  7. What are some common health issues that cockatoos face?
    Cockatoos may be prone to respiratory infections, feather plucking, and beak overgrowth, among other health issues. Providing proper nutrition, maintaining a clean environment, and seeking veterinary care when necessary can help prevent and treat these problems.

Ensuring a Lifetime of Cockatoo Care

Caring for a cockatoo is a lifelong commitment that requires dedication and attention to detail. By following the tips and guidelines outlined in this guide, you can provide your feathered friend with the care they need to live a healthy and happy life.

Remember to stay observant and responsive to changes in your cockatoo’s behavior, and to seek veterinary care when necessary. With consistent effort and care, you can build a strong bond with your cockatoo and enjoy their company for years to come.

FAQ About Cockatoo Care

Here are some frequently asked questions about cockatoo care:

What type of cage is best for a cockatoo?

Cockatoos need a cage that is large enough for them to move around comfortably and stretch their wings. The minimum recommended size is 3 feet wide, 2 feet deep, and 4 feet tall. It should have horizontal bars for climbing and be made of a durable, non-toxic material. Additionally, cockatoos require plenty of toys and accessories to keep them entertained.

What should I feed my cockatoo?

A well-balanced diet for cockatoos should consist of a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, and high-quality pellets. Avoid feeding your cockatoo foods that are high in sugar, salt, or fat. Water should be changed daily and provided in a clean bowl.

How often should I take my cockatoo to the vet?

Cockatoos should have an annual check-up with a veterinarian experienced in avian care. Additionally, if you notice any changes in your cockatoo’s behavior or health, such as decreased appetite, feather plucking, or sneezing, seek veterinary attention immediately.

How can I socialize my cockatoo?

Cockatoos are social animals and require interaction with their owners for optimal health and well-being. Spend time with your cockatoo daily, talking to them and offering treats. You can also introduce your cockatoo to other people and pets in a controlled environment to help them adjust to different situations.

How often should I groom my cockatoo?

Cockatoos require regular grooming, including nail trimming, beak and feather maintenance, and bathing. The frequency of these tasks will depend on your cockatoo’s individual needs, but they should be done at least once a month.

By following these guidelines and providing consistent, attentive care, you can ensure that your cockatoo will enjoy a happy and healthy life.

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