Cockatoo Species Information

Cockatoos are cuddly, but needy friends

If you own a Cockatoo, then you know why they are called the “love sponges” of the parrots.

And you also know that they are the most needy of all the pet birds and often love their owners too much.

These birds make great pets, but ONLY if you are an extremely experienced bird owner. This is VERY important.

STOP! Before you buy a Cockatoo, READ THIS SITE!

These birds want your attention 24/7 and can cuddle with you for hours. They don’t understand that you have a life and you’ll most likely never get them to understand that. If you don’t meet your bird’s needs, he will most likely scream non-stop, pluck out his feathers, and become very aggressive. Feather plucking is a very serious condition–birds that begin to feather pluck can also start self mutilating.

These behavioral problems can come about from lack of interaction, wrong foods, bad placement, improper cages and many other factors. This is why they are the most common parrots found at bird rescues. So keep in mind that these birds require a very high time and care commitment.

You will also find that ‘Toos are very loud. They love to scream and Moluccans can scream up to 135 decibels. Some will scream for attention and some will scream for no reason at all. They like to perform and show off, which can include screaming early in the morning as well as in the evening.

They can also be aggressive for no apparent reason. Because of this, you should never let your ‘Too on your shoulder or dominant aggressive behavior may begin.

They are very smart, curious, and mischevious. They are expert escape artists and can open almost any cage door. You need to put locks on your bird’s cage doors, but keep in mind that many can learn to pick a padlock or open a combination lock. They also love to chew and will destroy your home if left unattended.

While purchasing a cage, keep in mind that they not only need large cages, but also very well built cages. It’s not difficult for a ‘Too to learn how to take apart a poorly built cage.

They also differ by subspecies when it comes to behavior. For example, Goffin’s are a bit more independent than the other subspecies, so they make better pets for the average bird owner. So, make sure you research the individual subspecies for more information.

If you are able to spend at least two full hours a day with your bird (out of his cage), not leave the house for 6 or more hours everyday, cook for your bird and provide him with a variety of healthy foods, handle the loud screaming, afford the large cage and huge amount of toys, and deal with the adjustment stage that can include aggression, then rescuing a ‘Too might be a great idea. Make sure you research as much as possible because you don’t want to add to the already out-of-hand rescue problem.

Because so many of these birds are left to rescues, I highly encourage you to visit your local parrot rescue, see what I’m talking about, and consider rescuing one of these poor magestic creatures instead of buying one in a store. If you can handle all this, then this really might be the right bird for you.

Cockatoo Species



Fast Facts

Name Cockatoo (Cacatua), or ‘Too
Origin Australia, Indonesia, New Guinea, the Philippines, and the Solomon Islands
Size 12-24 in., depending on subspecies
Color Differences They are normally either black or white with different colored and types of crests. Except for the Rose-Breasted which are a soft pink and gray color.
Average Cost $800-4,000+
Lifespan up to 60 years or more
Noise Very loud–They love to scream and if they are not getting the attention they want, they can scream for hours.
Living Arrangements Because they are very loud (Moluccans can scream up to 135 decibels!), they are best suited for living in a house.
Qualities Cuddly, loving, needy, can become neurotic, prone to behavior problems, love to chew and destroy things, love to scream, demanding, sensitive, can become aggressive, mischevious, curious, escape artists, love being on the floor (so be careful!), some can become one-person birds, love to snuggle, prone to jealousy (of other birds and children).
Abilities Good–They can learn to talk, but most only learn a few words or phrases. You can train them, but they would most likely prefer to just cuddle with you.
Interaction/Time Requirements Very high–They love their owners and want attention 24/7. You need to be prepared to spend at least 2 hours a day with your bird to give him the time and attention he needs.
Diet Small-sized need a large parrot diet and large-sized need an x-large parrot diet.
Supplies Needed Small-sized need supplies for large parrots and large-sized need supplies for x-large parrots.
See How Cockatoos Compare to Other Types of Pet Birds!

Cockatoo Videos

“Sanctuary Takes Birds Owners Can’t Care For (WCCO-TV CBS)”

Many pet birds are landing in bird rescues all over the country. ‘Toos are very needy and many owners don’t realize how much it takes in order to keep their ‘Too healthy, happy, and screaming/plucking/illness free. It truly takes a lot. This is a great video of a news story covering the common heartbreaking story of birds being given up by their owners. Or worse, birds being neglected by their owners and not receiving the love and care they so desperately need.

“Umbrella Cockatoo, NANA, SCREAMING!”

Want to know what a screaming ‘Too sounds like? This video is a small glimpse into what you would be getting yourself into if you get a ‘Too. And keep in mind that this ‘Too isn’t even a Moluccan.

“Jail Bird (Cockatoo opens locked cage from the inside)”

We really weren’t kidding when we said that ‘Toos are expert escape artists. This video shows just how clever these birds are!

See More Cockatoo Videos on our Cockatoo Video Page >

Cockatoo Training

Because Cockatoos are such needy parrots, they can quickly become screamers and feather pluckers. Even if you spend a few hours with your Cockatoo every day, he may scream every minute you’re not around.

For this reason, we highly recommend that you find an effective training program. Whether your parrot is new to your home or you’ve had him for years, a training program will always come in handy. We personally recommend the Bird Tricks Parrot Training Course by Dave and Jamieleigh Womach. You can see many of their videos for free to get an idea of how much they know about parrots and how they can help you train yours.

Below is one of Dave’s videos about stopping your Cockatoo’s screaming. Cockatoos tend to scream even if you spend plenty of time with them. This video is a great example of how effective the training courses are and how they are filled with a wealth of useful information for any bird owner.

This video is only the first step in stopping your Cockatoo from screaming. We highly recommend checking out the BirdTricks Training Course for training your parrot even further.

For more information about Dave and Jamieleigh’s courses, you can visit the Bird Tricks website HERE.

Cockatoo Education

To learn more about your pet Cockatoo, we recommend these books:

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Cockatoo Gifts

Have a friend of family member who loves Cockatoos? Gift them something that will truly spark joy!

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Related Articles:

Have A Great Story About Your Cockatoo?

Share your experience with others! There’s no better way to learn about a pet bird than from an owner.

Some helpful information for potential owners can be: What is the species of your bird? Is he/she friendly? Loving? Cuddly? Talented? Messy? Loud? You get the idea!

Your comment may just help someone decide whether or not this pet bird is for them.

12 replies
  1. Jan & Jack Bartrum
    Jan & Jack Bartrum says:

    I need to re-Home my Cacatoo Chaca. We have had him 20 + years.H is actually my husbands birdand my husbands very ill and on hospice. I need to find him a good and loving home. He just isn’t getting the attention he needs.Do you have any suggestions ❓Or know someone who does. Thank you for your time.

  2. Drew
    Drew says:

    Hi im thinking of adopting an umbrella. Im able to give it lots of time, my brother is at home all the time (unemployed) so the too would never be alone. Ive done my research I realize they are like children, a lifelong commitment, i have thought about it for months. I also will never have an accidental child because im very gay so i wont be abbandoning it. I realize how much they scream. I also have the means to buy, ive been saving up for months and i really love these birds. Should i? Will i regret it?

    • All Pet Birds
      All Pet Birds says:

      Hi Drew, I think you sound like an excellent owner for a Cockatoo. You’ve done your research, you know the risks, and you have a deep love for these birds. I think you will make a Cockatoo very happy and your Cockatoo will bring a lot of fun to your life! 🙂

  3. Sherry
    Sherry says:

    Hi, I’m a proud mother of an umbrella cockatoo and we have been together for 15 years. She was a baby when I got her. I’ve had two human babies since we’ve been together and she has adjusted well. She is a wonderful bird, I get her out daily for our morning shower and after work. She does yell for my attention often, but she is a wonderful bird! Honestly, I didn’t have much experience with birds before I got her, but I understand that you have to be patient and spend much time with them. Everyone who wants to have one of these beautiful creatures in their life, needs to understand that they are a lifetime commitment. Yes, we have our challenging moments when she yells at 7:00 am or when we are watching tv, but I have to be understanding. These are wonderful, loving birds!

    • All Pet Birds
      All Pet Birds says:

      Hi Clara, I’m very sorry for your loss. Cockatoos are probably the most difficult of all parrots. They are very loud and very needy. I recommend reading our page here as well as the My Toos page that we link to.

  4. Johanna
    Johanna says:

    Hi I am about to buy a sulphur crested cacatoo on the net because people had a baby and can no longer care for it will it get used to me as his new owner? He is 45 years old and doesn’t fly will it screech a lot?

    • All Pet Birds
      All Pet Birds says:

      Hi Johanna, Re-homed birds can either be very difficult or a huge blessing. I highly recommend spending time with the bird first before committing to adopt him. See if he has been well trained and that you feel completely comfortable with him. Because these birds can be very difficult and be very attached to their previous owners, I highly suggest that you have a lot of experience with parrots before taking on an older re-homed bird.


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