Dr. Laurie: Cockatoo's are great pets. They are larger birds. They are probably the most social bird that we see. They're very interactive. They love to snuggle with their owner's. They're one of the most popular birds, because they provide so much back to their owners. They're very sweet and cuddly and they're kind of like the puppy dog of the bird world I guess. At the same time, all this love and attention brings some problems, unfortunately. We do see quite a few behavioral problems in these birds. Sarah, why don't you mention a few.
Sarah: One of the biggest problems I think that people realize the most with their cockatoo is that they cuddle with their cockatoo for a couple of hours and they put the cockatoo back in the cage to go to bed or to rest and the cockatoo immediately starts to scream to resume said attention, and unfortunately people's first reaction is to run back to quiet the cockatoo and this unfortunately, reinforces the screaming and will perpetuate the issue. What people really need to learn how to do is to ignore it. The bird starts screaming, walk away. Once the bird quiets, then you can come back in, handle the bird and reinforce the quiet. That can really help with those behavioral issues.
Dr. Laurie: All right, so if you're going to have a cockatoo realize that this bird is very bonded to you. You have to be very careful that you are not accidentally reinforcing that screaming behavior that develops. Again, it's human nature to run to the cage and say,"Stop screaming. Shut up, stop," and that just makes the bird want to do it more. We want to cuddle them, but we don't want to give them mixed messages, that maybe we want to bond with them in an inappropriate way, a sexual way. This can be very frustrating to birds.
It's nice to have a cockatoo. They're great birds. They require fresh fruit and vegetables everyday and a base pelleted diet. They require showering, because they are very powdery birds. They have powder down, which is that sort of powdery stuff that come's off their feathers, so they do require bathing everyday. They require fresh air and sunlight and all the things we recommend for our other bird species. But because they are so socially needy, they have a special kind of relationship with their owners that you really have to watch, so that we don't' get into those behavioral problems.