Slender-billed Corella

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Is the Slender-billed Corella right for you?

Species group:

Other common names: Long Billed Corella; Long Billed Cockatoo; Slender Billed Cockatoo

Scientific name: Cacatua tenuirostris

The basics:
The Slender-billed Corella may be thought of as a super-sized Little Corella, with its funny face and its gift of gab. Some people have claimed that the Slender-billed Corella is the best talking cockatoo of them all, and this species is well-regarded for its intelligence and its desire to entertain its owner. It is rare in captivity outside of Australia because exports of wild parrots from its Australian home were closed long before breeders learned how to reliably breed cockatoos. They are considered an under-rated cockatoo, but they're growing in popularity as a talking pet in their homeland.

Warning: Cockatoos are powder down birds, and you should not obtain a Slender-billed Corella 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 cockatoo if you live in an apartment or have nearby neighbors.

The Slender-billed Corella has a smallish historical range in southeastern Australia, but this intelligent and adaptable species seems to like trees near running water – the same spots that farmers like. Perhaps the crops that the farmers grow are considered a bonus. They can gather in large, boisterous flocks of up to 2,000 birds that may dig around on the ground, even in agricultural areas. Although some birds have been trapped as pets and or killed by farmers, the species as a whole seems to be expanding.

A written description doesn't really properly describe this white cockatoo with the pink face and pinkish belly. With this plumage, in theory, the Slender-billed Corella should be beautiful. In reality, the bird is often considered to be goofy or funny-looking, thanks to its long pale bill and stubby crest. It looks endearing and friendly, rather than glamorous.

485 - 650 grams (17 - 23 oz.)

Average size:
37 centimeters (14.5 in.)

45+ years

Behavior / temperament:
There may be more beautiful cockatoos, but it's hard to out-shine the Slender-billed Corella's reputation for high intelligence, good talking skills, and attention-loving personality. A properly socialized bird loves people and loves to play. That said, they are still cockatoos, and you should educate yourself to head off any potential problems. Don't fall into the trap of cuddling the baby 'too for hours, when you will not be able to continue that cuddling for next few decades. Set sensible limits, and teach your pet from the beginning how to enjoy toys and independent play.

The big concerns are incessant screaming, feather-plucking, and aggressive biting, especially from a hormonal adult male. Contact a parrot behaviorist ASAP if you have any questions or problems. Cockatoos are probably more often given up for rescue or rehoming than any other bird. Don't be a statistic. These birds are sharp. There's no shame in acquiring a little advanced education so that you can keep up with them.

The Slender-billed Corella with its rather long, skinny beak is not considered as “chewy” as many cockatoos, but don't be fooled. They can chew or lock-pick their way out of an ineffective cage in a surprisingly short period of time. Provide a powder-coated metal cage of at least 36” wide by 36” 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.

Teach your Slender-billed Corella 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. Of course, 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.

Well-socialized, properly weaned Slender-billed Corellas 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 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.

At least one breeder has described the Slender-billed Corella as a picky eater. If your pet doesn't know that an item is food, it may waste or throw the item. Demonstrate that a new food, such as a new fruit, is good to eat by eating some yourself in front of the bird.

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

Written by Elaine Radford


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