Moluccan Cockatoo

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Is the Moluccan Cockatoo right for you?

Species group:

Other common names: Salmon-crested Cockatoo; Seram Cockatoo; Pink-crested Cockatoo; M2

Scientific name: Cacatua moluccensis

The basics:
There's no other bird that can be mistaken for this breath-taking pink cockatoo. Moluccan Cockatoos combine a high intelligence with a capacity for deep affection. It's hard to resist when a baby Moluccan climbs into your arms and cuddles like a living teddy bear.

However, most people should resist. The Moluccan Cockatoo will not stay a baby forever, and this species should only be owned by an expert parrot trainer with exceptional skills. If you are not such an expert, consult hands-on with someone who is. Learn what you're getting into before you make the investment in a large pet cockatoo, especially this one. An adult Moluccan, particularly a male at the height of his hormonal surge, can be a dangerous bird. You would not bring home a baby lion cub and expect to raise it at home without training. Now imagine that the lion had wings.

A further warning: Cockatoos are powder down birds, and you should not obtain a Moluccan 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 also strongly recommended against choosing any large cockatoo if you live in an apartment or have nearby neighbors.

As the name suggests, this 'too is a native of a few islands in the southern Moluccas, Indonesia. They were heavily over-collected for the pet trade, which is unfortunate, since they should be a specialty pet for the rare individual or aviary. They are also impacted by habitat loss, logging, and transformation of the landscape for agriculture. They are intelligent and adaptable birds, but the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) has rated them as vulnerable, and their situation in the wild is quite fragile.

The Moluccan Cockatoo is a huge, spectacular pale candy pink parrot with a large, backward-curved crest that opens to show off deep salmon-pink feathers within the blush pink.

775 - 935 grams (27 - 33 oz.)

Average size:
52 centimeters (20.5 in.)

50 - 65 years

Behavior / temperament:
Cockatoos are probably more often given up for rescue or rehoming than any other bird, and a large reason for that statistic is the adult male Moluccan Cockatoo. They seem as intelligent as any human, if the human in question is a toddler at the height of the “terrible twos.” An imprinted domestic-bred Moluccan who has chosen you as his mate sounds blissful. He has selected you, and he wants nothing more than to cuddle with you by the hour.

What needs to be pointed out is that sometimes, in this species, the hormonal male kills his mate. You must establish limits when the Moluccan is a cute, cuddly baby, and you cannot lead the bird to expect that you will be at his beck and call at all hours. You do not want to create a screaming, demanding tyrant who will stop at nothing to get his way.

One tip: At the first hint of any trouble with feather plucking, see an avian vet for the proper tests. Don't assume that your Moluccan Cockatoo is neurotic. There are some serious feather issues that can affect cockatoos, and you need to have the bird examined and treated for any underlying physical disease before you assume that the plucking is a psychological problem.

That said, there are many behavioral problems that can occur with the Moluccan Cockatoo, including incessant screaming, feather-plucking of every area the bird can reach until it's bald, and angry, territorial biting. Don't just read a parrot book or two, and call the job done. Get hands-on lessons from a good trainer or behaviorist who can work with you. Some owners describe their Moluccans as incredibly sweet. But they didn't get that way by accident. Spare no expense for the best experts, the best food, and the best equipment for your Moluccan Cockatoo.

Some people recommend a walk-in aviary for the Moluccan Cockatoo – excellent advice if you're a zoo, a breeder, or an aviary owner with a well-trained staff. If you're really just an individual bird owner, try the largest flight or aviary you can buy that still allows for the food and water dishes to be serviced from outside, especially if you have an older male rescue bird. You may be an expert at handling the 'too on his home territory, but what about when you're called out of town, and a pet sitter or a family member has to take over the job? They need a way to help out without stepping into the aviary or putting their hands in the cage.

The Moluccan Cockatoo loves to chew. You will want to place sturdy manzanita perches in areas where you don't want to change the perches a lot. You will also want to be able to remove and add toys, chew items, and bird-safe tree trimmings to give your pet plenty of opportunity to exercise that busy beak. The cage itself should be a powder-coated metal cage of at least 60” wide by 42” deep by 60 “tall with a bar spacing of around 1-1/2 inches. Caution: M2s are one of the species that can pick locks, turn keys, and even remove screws. Use strong padlocks, and do not leave the keys in the locks.

Have play gyms with plenty of chew items and foraging or puzzle toys. Have plenty of perches. However, consider the height of the perches. Don't place the Moluccan Cockatoo in a position of dominance and then expect the bird to remain sweet. Some people have a small sleep cage in a quiet area, which can be a great idea, if it gives your pet a dark, quiet place to get 10 to 12 hours of uninterrupted sleep. A deep rest at night can be the hidden secret to many performing Moluccan Cockatoo's beautiful feathers.

Teach your Moluccan to step on a 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.

Domestic-bred Moluccan Cockatoos are known to sometimes get too fat or to develop fatty liver disease, so you need to provide a varied diet that isn't too high in fat, carbs, or simple sugars. You may offer some small seed mix – 10% or less of the diet - but limit access to higher 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 Moluccan 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. Nuts and sunflower seed should be restricted to use for trick training or foraging exercise if the bird is overweight. It is best to consult with an avian vet, from the very beginning, to get an expert's opinion of your pet's proper weight.

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

Written by Elaine Radford


good eater, entertaining cockatoos, beautiful cockatoos, intelligent animal, pink coloring


feather plucking, screams, hormonal aggression, temper tantrums, hormonal shifts, NOISE factor, sexualized


outdoor aviary, long childhoods, flock creatures, complex bird, constant handling, regular outside time

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