Life with a Cockatoo by Deborah FA

I share my life with a Cockatoo named Ozzy, he is adorable, funny, intelligent, entertaining, sweet, cuddly and the light of my life. Who wouldn’t want one of these amazingly sweet creatures? How amazing it would be to share your life with something so incredibly endearing? A sweet bundle of joy who can talk and is so beautiful!!!

Oh wait…I forgot to include a few other characteristics about Cockatoos:

  • They are loud!   Their ear piercing screams of joy alone can leave your ears ringing for hours. Not to mention if they are unhappy (or wanting your attention) screams are even louder! Phone calls become a thing of the past, without having to say repeatedly…”sorry what did you say, couldn’t hear you over my birds”.
  • They are demanding!   They don’t care that you want to watch a t.v. program, or just lay about having a lazy Sunday afternoon, and don’t even think about getting on that computer thing, they will rip the keys off to keep you from that time waster! Sleep in… pfft, built in alarm clocks and they are louder than any alarm clock you have ever heard LOL! You are their flock now and they expect to spend ALL of their waking hours with you! This is the nature of flock creatures.
  • They are destructive!   Your home becomes their personal jungle gym. Anything that is wood or plastic must be chewed to bits! And those wonderful sofas are absolutely so fun to pull apart. Antiques are just old pieces of wood to them, that must be destroyed immediately. That molding around the fridge just has to be fixed by them. Kitchen cabinets are a personal favorite to them and they hate to leave any job undone and so they will persist until those cupboards are nothing but toothpicks! That beautiful crown molding you painted so carefully, will be unrecognizable in short order. Forget about wearing clothing with buttons, those will be removed and broken asap. Jewelry is just another word for “mine” to them. It will be broken, twisted and destroyed in minutes and then they look up with those angels eyes as if to ask if you have more for them LOL. Hope those beautiful curtains in your living room weren’t really liked. They will very carefully redesign them :).
  • They are messy!   You spend hours preparing wonderful healthy balanced foods and they love to throw them about with such glee! Poop was made to be pooped out and it doesn’t matter where, they are not modest in the least. Cages have to be cleaned daily and then weekly you will need to do a good power wash because poop is like cement and it hardens quickly like no sidewalk or driveway ever has! If they can pick it up and toss it, they will. They have dander, a dust that will cover absolutely everything in your home. You can dust daily and need to dust again before the day is over. This dander is also harmful to some other species of birds and humans. Beter have several air purifiers in your home to help keep the dust down.
  • They are very expensive!   Hopefully your Too is healthy but they will still require annual avian vet visits and these can run several hundred dollars. Sick avian visits can run into thousands. Cages are very expensive and a healthy Too will do everything in its power to disassemble these wonderfully expensive cages and so they will need to be replaced at times. Toys can run into hundreds of dollars, since your precious angels sole purpose in life is to destroy them. If you are smart you will get a drill and saw and make your own (this goes into the time consuming section also).
  • They are time consuming!   Along with the cleaning, feeding, repairing of you home, you will also need to spend a great deal of time with them. They will demand it actually, so you wont ever forget. They are flock creatures and you are now their flock, they want to be with you….all the time. They need intelligent stimulation and lots and lots exercise daily! They are not content to play by themselves for very long periods of time. There are no leisurely afternoons spent wandering at the mall, unless you have someone home to watch your feathered charges…and then expect a phone call to please pick up a new remote while you are out, since the Too just ate the one at home. Oh and while you are on the phone, he just took half the keys off of your keyboard, so you might want to pick up a new keyboard too (this also fits into the expensive and destructive areas)
  • Better become a chef!   Bet you thought they just ate seed? Wrong wrong wrong, these creatures need a very balanced and restricted diet. In fact they need very little seed. A diet with mainly seed can lead to fatty liver disease.  They need fresh and cooked foods on a daily basis. There are many things that are toxic to them and you have to be very careful not to give too many fats which can cause them fatty liver disease. And they are very picky, you can’t just hand them some nice wonderful veggies and expect them to dig in, you will have to coax, plead, share and eat with them to even get them to maybe try something after months and months of encouragement. They need a certain amount of grains, pastas and whole wheats too. Fresh veggies need to be mainly from the Vit A list, some are better for them cooked and some are better for them raw. Best to keep a list on the fridge so you can make sure they are getting everything they need each day. Oh and you still need to cook for your family? Best to all become vegetarians or you wont have enough room in the fridge for anything else LOL.
  • They have very sensitive respiratory systems!   Forget about wearing perfumes, toxic to your birds. No more romantic candle lit evenings, the fumes produced by the wicks are toxic to your birds. Throw out that Teflon, toxic to your birds (and you also, so this is a good thing for everyone to do). No more cleaning products, they are ALL toxic to your birds, best to stick with using nothing but vinegar for cleaning. If you want to paint a room, better do it in summer and make sure that the room is closed off and your birds are far away from any possible fumes. Air freshners, carpet deodorizers…. Just about anything that has a scent is probably toxic to your birds.
  • They can and will bite!   No matter how loving and strong your bond is with your angel, they can and will bite you for various reasons. They have a beak and they use it! Even while playing, they can bite you when overly stimulated. They can bite out of frustration, when pushed to do something they don’t want to do. Or out of fear if something startles them suddenly and you just happen to be close. Or if someone enters the room and they see them as a threat to you. Out of anger, or play, or just to tell you NO! They love to bite feet, sometimes just feet with shoes, sometimes just feet with socks, sometimes just feet with slippers but they all seem to enjoy biting and chasing feet. It seems that feet were made to be chased and bit, and shoes were just meant to be destroyed by them! Their beaks have hundreds of pounds of pressure, which can easily rip through skin and break bones.

still with me?…….if so I want to share a little bit about the joys of the hormonal season 🙂

  • That time of year!   Ah yes your little angel has matured and now they are looking around for a mate. Guess what, all they know are humans and so they are looking at you, or your spouse or someone who is significant in their life, to fulfill their instinctual desire to reproduce! This desire is so strong in these creatures, that it literally will drive them to self destruction sometimes. Your normally sweet little angel will now show bits of anger, aggression and increased vocalization at times. They will look for ways to rub themselves on your arms, legs or any part of you that they can. Yes they are trying to masturbate. Why, because while their internal desires drive them to procreate and there are no suitable recipients to partake of their amorous desires. This desire cannot be stopped, however you can help to ease them through it using very positive and loving techniques called Applied Behavior Analysis. Hormonal season is very trying even with the most loving experienced of Too caregivers. There are ways to help prevent some of the hormonal issues before that season occurs though. Do not allowing too much body contact with your Too. Dont spend hours holding and cuddling that baby Too, they need to grow and be a bird not a velcro bird. Never pet below their neck, birds do not touch each others body except when they are wanting to mate. Dont pet them under their wings, oh I know they will lift them up for you all the time to do just that….resist and give them a good scritch on their head and neck.  Quit giving warm mushy foods (this can be misconstrued as regurgitating to them). Never allow your Too to snuggle under blankets or have small boxes that can be thought of as nests. Make sure your Too knows how to play independently and doesn’t depend on you for all their attention. Truly love your Too and help them to be just that…A Too! By improper petting and loving, we can turn them into monsters. Hormonal season is tough enough on them and us, help them by being a responsible caregiver and loving them the healthiest way possible. You can never be their mate, so do what is best for them. Cockatoos are probably one of the most endearing and loving of all parrots, they are so adorable and cuddly they are hard to resists as babies. By cuddling and allowing them to become dependent on us, they will turn into demanding monsters as adults. They will expect to be with you 24/7, when they don’t get this, then they will scream, become aggressive and sometimes start to mutilate themselves out of frustration.

Out of all the parrots in captivity, I strongly feel that Cockatoos suffer the most. Their strong desire to love and be loved, makes these precious cuddly babies irresistible to unknowing folks who just didn’t know any better. Sadly as that baby matures, people realize that they cannot or will not do all that is needed to keep their Cockatoo happy, healthy and content.  I do not believe that any breeder would ever print up a list like I have here and pass it out to potential customers, who would buy a Cockatoo after reading all of this? And this my friends is just a partial list. Some breeders have stopped breeding Toos, for this very reason. They have seen the self mutilation and destructive behaviors that plague these magnificent creatures and decided no amount of money was worth this sort of destruction. There are still many more breeders that continue no matter what and the majority of those babies will be homed and rehomed over their years, or even worse. It is about dollars to them and nothing else, or why would they want to create more angels that will more than likely only suffer?  While I know that other species suffer as well, it is my belief that the numbers are greater in Cockatoos. Toos are the number one relinquished (of all parrots), to rescues and shelters. The numbers are staggering and growing each year. The shelters are over full, due to the continued breeding of birds that were never meant to be in captivity to begin with.

So why do I share my life with a Cockatoo? He is a rescue and I had grown up with parrots all my life, I knew full well what kind of commitment was going to be needed in order to provide for this angel forever. I also had to make sure that my family was on board with my decision.  I knew though the moment our eyes met, that I could not turn my back on this angel. He was in a bad situation and needed someone to rescue him. So with my families support, Ozzy became part of our family forever. Some days are incredibly trying and others nothing but joy, but all days are always filled with love and laughter! No matter what our day is like, we made the commitment and we will do so for as long as we are alive. We have made plans for his future once we are no longer here to care for him also, that is part of the package deal. He will not ever grow up and move out, he will always need care for his entire life. You do not give them away, you love and care for them forever! What they give back is immeasurable! Each night as we tuck him into his sleep cage, he utters those words that hold my heart forever “I love you”. Words from my Angel “Ozzy”, this is why I share my life with a Cockatoo!


Copyright © 2011 Deborah FeatheredAngels
All rights reserved
(My articles are free to repost, just do so in their entirety)

7 thoughts on “Life with a Cockatoo by Deborah FA

    This has to be one if the best stories, as well as true to the very end .
    I have read about Cockatoos and this is the best I have ever seen.
    I will past this on to all the people I know that have or would like to have one. (Not Own)
    My friend and I have an umbrella and she also has a Moluccan.
    Paco her Umbrella talks to me on the phone..he is really smart!!
    We each have Several Birds as Pets and She and I have rescued several.
    We are both Bird Lovers
    •They are loud!
    •They are demanding!
    •They are destructive!
    •They are messy!
    •They are very expensive!
    •They are time consuming!
    •Better become a chef!
    •They have very sensitive respiratory systems!
    •They can and will bite!
    ***All the above is so true ***
    The best thing is when they say I LOVE YOU !

    • Thank you for your comments and yes please do share this article whenever possible. Sadly Cockatoos are the number one relinquished of all parrots, and simply they are just so misunderstood and difficult to live with. Our Ozzy is our precious Angel and while we adore him, we also will be the first to admit that life is very difficult when you live with a Too. Most people would never be willing to change their lives so drastically, in order to care for them properly. They should not be bred or living in captivity, they should be where God intended…free and flying the skies.


  2. Wonderful article! Lol! Couldn’t help smiling all they way through, it is all so true. But with all the grey hairs & headaches they give us, there is no parrot more loving & entertaining than Cockatoo’s!!!! I do agree that they are probably the most abused & misunderstood breed of parrot. Unfortunately most people think that owning a parrot is easy!!!!!????? They should ALL read this article and see that it’s time consuming, exspensive & a lot of hard work to keep your parrot happy & healthy!

  3. Terrific article, Deborah, and every word is true! My female U2, Isabella, is the love of my life and I cannot even remember what I did with my “extra” time before I adopted her! But, these magnificent creatures are not for the faint-hearted, and you have outlined the pros and cons very eloquently. Well done and a must-read!

  4. Deborah, Thank you for such a perfect description of life with a Cockatoo! You hit the nail right on the head and drove it in! I hope this aritical get passed around as every protential bird owner should read it!
    You are WONDERFUL!

  5. People often ask me why I would devote my time to “just a bird” and I laugh at their inability to understand. My U2 Lola is as much a part of our family as my 12 year old daughter. We hand fed her for over a year, we have devoted countless hours to giving her the right environment, food, toys, and lots and lots of love. She is all of what you said, but she is also one of my greatest joys. She sits on her perch as I get ready for work, she runs across the back of the couch as we sit and watch tv in the evenings. She “blows us kisses” and says I love you constantly. We’ve devoted a lot of time and effort to teaching her to “play independently” which she does so well, and I’m so proud of her. I plan to be around for a very long time (I’m 46) but if something should happen, my daughter and husband know that she is their responsibility.

    Feather angels is what they are, and it breaks my heart to hear the stories of birds who no longer have a home. Someday…someday, I will have the ability to take in abused and neglected birds, and give them the love and attention they deserve.

    Thank you Deborah, for presenting “life with a Too” so honestly and accurately.

  6. Great story Deborah! Everything you wrote it’s so true!I am a proud owner ,mommy of a 2,5 year old baby girl Manny!!!she is amazing ,we love her sooo much ,and yes if I ever knew owning a bird would be so damn difficult I would have never gotten her ! But of course the store owner never said anything and I am learning as we go through this life together and forever! Wouldn’t trade her for nothing in this world thank you Deborah for great honest funny story

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