Acquired: Worked with pet (didn’t own)
Posted Jul 06, 2013
I've worked with this bird a few times, and recently with a very positive experience. However, most often I find that people don't know what to do with this bird, and I've mostly seen them in them up for adoption by owners who couldn't handle them anymore. Some were in bad shape. So here's my assessment of the species as a pet.
Appearance: Beautiful. White feathers with a yellow crest and a dark grey beak - they are larger birds, as well. However, I've seen many cockatoos who've resorted to plucking from frustration and destroyed their plumage.
Friendly: Cockatoos, in my experience, really WANT attention and can be very friendly with strangers. The bird I've cared for recently adores any type of attention from anyone, and demands attention from the moment you arrive. She would rather have attention than food or play toys, at times. But perhaps they are too friendly to the point of being needy? Cockatoos are notoriously needy birds, and if you don't have the time to devote to your bird, you're going to have problems. Major problems.
Trainability: Cockatoos are very attentive and eager to interact with you, which can possibly make training easy if you know what you are doing. Most impressively, they can train YOU to play their games. What's YOUR trainability?
Activity level: Very active and constantly in need of simulation.
Song-vocal quality: They can make some very cute noises and sounds - you would think they were an adorable squeak toy. But they can also SCREAM YOUR EARS OFF. With the right amount of attention and affection, this shouldn't be a problem, but most cockatoos I've seen have already resorted to screaming for attention.
Song-vocal frequency: When they are making little chirping noises, the sound is delightful. When they are screaming, your ears will bleed. Not literally, but just to put the point across - it's damn near intolerable.
Mimic sounds-words: I've heard a little bit of mimicry from Cockatoos, but mostly just chirps and screams.
Health/Vigor: Cockatoos go through a lot for their owners - I would imagine they put up with a lot of stress, and not very well. However, I don't think they are the type to decline too rapidly.
Maintenance/Care: You need to have this bird sewn onto you in order to give it the attention it needs. Okay, maybe not so dramatic, but this bird needs mental stimulation to the umpteenth degree, lots of attention from the owner, probably lots of training for bonding time and to make ownership easier, a large cage, a lot of out of cage time, things to destroy that aren't your items, as well as fresh food and high quality pellets. And lots and lots of love. Think of your heart like the Grinch's. It's three sizes too small.
Low Cost to Own: I can't put it any other way. Vet bills can get very high.
These birds are lovely birds, but they are certainly not for everyone. If you have the ability to spend a lot of time with your bird, and maybe even take him to work with you, you will probably have a very happy bird. The more time you can give the better. Otherwise, beware of behavioral problems!