Goffin's Cockatoo

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Is the Goffin's Cockatoo right for you?

Species group:

Other common names: Goffin’s Corella; Tanimbar Corella; Tanimbar Cockatoo

Scientific name: Cacatua goffini

The basics:
The Goffin's Cockatoo is a spirited, highly intelligent smaller cockatoo with all the spirit and sass of a much bigger bird. The boldness of a properly socialized Goffin's can win your heart, because these birds can learn to go to anyone and demand attention, and they have been known to climb on strangers to work their charms. You should bring all of your best cockatoo management skills, because these little cuties have the brain power to pick a cage lock and the emotional intelligence to manipulate the unwary pet owner. The bird may have you wrapped around its tiny claw before you know what hit you.

Warning: Cockatoos are powder-down birds, and you should not obtain a Goffin's Cockatoo if anyone in the home suffers from allergies or asthma. Most of them are capable of extremely loud contact calls, or early morning “wake-up calls,” and it is strongly recommended against choosing any cockatoo if you live in an apartment or have nearby neighbors.

The Goffin's Cockatoo hails from the Tanimbar Islands in Indonesia, although most of us might have a better opportunity to observe the feral population in Singapore's parks and gardens. These remote Indonesian islands were apparently heavily logged in the 1970s, so the wild birds are suffering from the one-two punch of habitat destruction and over-collecting for the pet trade. They are now rated as a “Near-Threatened” species. There is simply no excuse for buying a smuggled bird, when there are breeders out there working to create lovable hand-fed babies. Know your breeder, and don't tolerate unethical behavior.

A smaller white cockatoo.

300 grams (10.5 oz.)

Average size:
32 centimeters (12.6 in.)

40+ years

Behavior / temperament:
Even though it is smaller and doesn't have the flashiest crest, for many of us, the Goffin's Cockatoo is the cockatoo to covet. They are social, intelligent, and intuitive, with the ability to read your body language. To watch a properly socialized, hand-fed Goffin's work a pet store is to watch a master. They know how to make you feel chosen.

Be aware that the Goffin's Cockatoo is an energetic, noisy bird with one heck of a voice. Like any other cockatoo, a wrongly handled Goffin's can become a screamer, a plucker, or a biter. Contact a parrot behaviorist ASAP if you have any problems. These birds are sharp. There's no shame in acquiring a little advanced education so that you can keep up with them. Cockatoos are probably more often given up for rescue or rehoming than any other bird, but a small investment in training could save your relationship.

The Goffin's Cockatoo loves to chew. Provide a powder-coated metal cage of at least 36” wide by 24” deep by 36” high with no more than 1” bar spacing. Please keep the cage well-supplied with disposable toys that can be chewed to destruction. Have sturdy manzanita perches in areas where you don't want to have to change the perches frequently, but also supply plenty of natural, bird-safe wood perches from unsprayed trees that your pet can chew to its heart's content.

The Goffin's Cockatoo is one of those cockatoos that is highly respected – even feared – as an escape artist. Many of these birds can open their own cage doors, so they are only humoring you by staying inside unless you use padlocks to secure the doors and windows. You have been warned.

Teach your Goffin's Cockatoo to step on an arm or hand-held perch on command, so that you can easily bring the bird to a play gym. Have more toys and chew items in the play space. It may sound a little counter-intuitive, but a highly intelligent cockatoo does not always understand what a toy is for, until you demonstrate by playing with the toy yourself. Remember, the more intelligent the pet, the more it learns from being taught, rather than just going by instinct.

If you have an older, aggressive male, it is particularly important to keep the play gym and cage at waist height. A bird perched at shoulder or head height may hop aboard your shoulder before you give permission. This behavior seems cute when your pet is younger, but it's best to teach him to hop on your arm, not your shoulder – and, preferably, after you give the request. You must manage this bird with kindness and respect, and the best way to fix a problem is to prevent it from developing in the first place.

Well-socialized, properly weaned Goffin's Cockatoos aren't as tricky to feed as some species, but they require a varied diet that isn't too high in fat, carbs, or simple sugars. You may offer a small seed mix, but limit access to high fat larger seeds such as sunflower. The core of the diet should be a good cockatoo pellet or a high quality commercial or homemade “soak and cook” mix that contains well-cooked beans, grains, and vegetables, as well as well-sprouted seed. Learn how to make a nice chopped salad containing lots of vegetables and greens, as well as some fruit. If you suspect that your bird is a little too hyper and getting too much sugar, then you can hold back the fruit for trick training, foraging games, or to offer by hand as part of a bonding exercise.

The young Goffin's Cockatoo can be surprisingly sweet and self-confident, so if you have a new baby that is whiny, complaining, or difficult, then investigate right away. They can be difficult to wean, and the bird may expect you to hand-feed it, either because it wasn't really weaned properly or because it's a little uncertain in the new home. You want to correct a weaning problem right away, because you never want to risk losing your cockatoo's trust. If you find that you must spoon feed something like mashed yams or bananas, take the time to do it.

Never feed avocado or chocolate to any cockatoo. These foods are toxic to all parrots.

Written by Elaine Radford


wonderful pets, cuddly, good talker, smallest cockatoo, big personalities, absolute clowns


feather dust, allergies, severe plucker, hormone season, loud squawks, hormone overload


extreme high energy, surprisingly strong bird, overstimulation remember

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