Learn about the cockatoo lifespan, care & more | Cockatoo – Birds Classroom

Birds Human Classroom

Cockatoos are one of the best known and most popular breeds of parrots as pets. Whether it’s because of their intelligence and their lively attitude that they can entertain anyone so much that they’re going viral over the Internet these days, or it may turn out to be exactly the opposite, they may be one of the most outrageous, problematic, and needy bird species you can have, not to mention that they can hurt themselves if they are not given the attention they need within a certain period of time, unlike any other parrot subspecies.

Before adopting one of these unique pet birds, you should take the time to evaluate everything that concerns the care, handling, temperament of a cockatoo, and if you have the time to give it the attention that this particular bird species needs. Each species of cockatoo has its personality and care. Do your pet bird a favor and research as much as you can, consult only with professionals, and make sure you get everything you need at home to give your beautiful new pet cockatoo the best quality of life it deserves. 

This way, you will avoid taking a cockatoo out of a breeding ground where it has adequate care and management, to your home and because you will not understand its needs and attitude, you´ll end up returning the bird to a refuge, zoo, sanctuary or rescue organization, which would make you be part of a large amount of the population that keeps blaming the cockatoo instead of yourself. A Cockatoo is not an option either as a first pet or for someone with little to none experience with any bird.


Moluccan Cockatoo

On average, cockatoos are one of the bird species with the highest average life span, with reports indicating birds with 100 years of age approximately, even for wild birds, but in general, they tend to reach close to 60 years. Although, Sadly, those held in captivity tend to come between the 30s to 40s years since they are not provided with an adequate diet that covers their nutritional needs as well as care, being for a prolonged period of time to sunlight, air currents.

They possess a powerful beak and its plumage may not be as colorful or alive as the other parrot species, the cockatoo is still a beautiful pet bird whose color may seem plain and simple, one that stands out is Umbrella Cockatoo. This white cockatoo, as well as Cockatoos in general, have crest feathers that are “erectile” on top of its head, which they tend to raise depending on the emotion they may feel, such as threatened, getting angry, excited, or ready to play. As our best example, one Cockatoo species that stands out is the Palm Cockatoo, as part of one of the five Australian black cockatoo´s but his plumage is mixed with a bit of red, not only is it one of the most difficult to train or socialize, its black color makes it distinctive from the rest as they are usually white and some have a faded color like the Moluccan Cockatoo or the pink Cockatoo with a salmon-colored chest or body added to the mixture.

As far as sizes go, a cockatoo goes from medium size to a large size. The smallest with white plumage is the 12-inch Goffin’s cockatoo. One of the best-known species and possibly seen in the media, the Galah Cockatoo is a beautiful 14-inch bird with its gray and pink colors, and one of the largest ones of 20 inches, is the great Sulphur Crested Cockatoo. In this particular case, personal taste should not decide which species to choose, it all depends on whether the conditions for buying a cockatoo as a pet are met.


Sulphur crested Cockatoo

As I mentioned earlier, each cockatoo species has its personality and care, having a little more than 20 cockatoo species, the thing is to look for one that suits you the best. All will also depend on their natural habitat, ranging from a humid forest, plains to a dry or arid climate, some of which are in Australia and Indonesia.

When deciding which Cockatoo you´ll get, remember that getting a new pet comes with a complete package;


Galah Cockatoo

As with any other pet or child, when raising any living animal, it is crucial to choose and provide the best, healthy, and most suitable diet. You don’t have to stick to a particular type of food or diet but always make sure it’s the best for your feathered partner. Seeds often seem to be an obvious and widely used option but if you’re using them, make sure they represent the 10% of the diet at most. Any bird of the Cockatoo species must receive well-balanced food and seeds have a very low nutritional value because they do not provide necessary and vital elements such as calcium or vitamins which will improve the health of your bird and help prevent diseases.

Base the diet on fresh fruits and vegetables but avoid things like avocado or chocolate because they are toxic to birds. Consult with a specialist to avoid complications, and always use formulated pellets as the main dish since they provide most of the diet’s nutritional requirements. Utilize treats for training or when you’re playing.



Having a big bird doesn’t always mean you should be getting a proportional cage or aviary. You could get a small cage as long as it provides a place to sleep, rest, safety, and at least 90 percent of the rest of the time, your cockatoo will remain free indoors or outdoors. If not, then get a big inner cage and an even bigger birdhouse, because they need a lot of space to play and/or exercise, to fly around freely and to feel as comfortable as possible because they will not spend time flying freely. 

Either its the indoor or the cage for outside, get one that will withstand any bird damage, and even when they are specially made for birds or your cockatoo species, get a padlock for the cage door and for a smaller one where you can place the food. Remember that they are intellectual and very curious birds that can and will open the cage if given the opportunity, so better keep it extra safe.


Baths could mean a huge success or a catastrophe. There are lots and lots of videos on social media of Cockatoos singing and enjoying bath time, but don’t let this give you a false sense of security and confidence. Looking for a creative way to bath your bird is good, but try them out carefully. Always try to keep a good relationship with your Cockatoo and you´ll understand each other the best way possible. Accompany this kind of moment with a prize (food) and positive reinforcement, as well as any other activity that might be frightened with. Time and patience will become your best friend. Some birds, on in the wild dive into the water to bathe, others splash on it, it is up to you to find the one that your bird likes the most but keep the baths weekly.

Kind of like a cat, cockatoos clean themselves to a certain extent, they would need the help of their human partner to clean certain areas, like between some feathers and to remove dust that they produce that is to protect their skin and feathers, only as with anything in excess they will become harmful if left unattended. Running your fingers through every feather near your Cockatoo’s neck and head as these are the ones that would have trouble cleaning themselves. This not only shows affection or love but also helps to remove anything that might cause an itchy or skin problem when a residue or artifact gets between each feather and will prevent it from building up. Keep an eye on this dust in case someone is allergic to birds or a pet that might be equally affected. Like most birds, keep their fingernails and beak trimmed if necessary, some wing feathers if you fear you might fly away.

Fundamentally, you must maintain both, the house and every cage your cockatoo possess as clean as you can, using products that won’t harm your bird or any other pet you have. Clean the food and water bowls, and change the cage floor daily, this will help you monitor your bird’s droppings and eating habits, clean it weekly and a deeper cleanup of the cage itself monthly to ensure a healthy and clean environment. 


It may seem and sound tedious to spend so much time with your cockatoo, but this will vary with the conditions in which you currently live, which means that if you have any other type of pet if you have small children or any other type of bird, preferably another species of a parrot or having a pair of Cockatoos would be ideal. Since they are a lively pet, they might demand attention at some point. If you have young children, they may be jealous that they get all the attention and may attack them, so keep this in mind. As with other pets, it’s something you’ll have to try on your own since every pet has its personality. No one can tell you how it would turn out in the end if all the pets in your house, regardless of species, got used to each other. It is better if you do this pet mix when they are all young. Any other new pets will not become a threat as cockatoos last longer than dogs and cats.

I strongly recommend and can’t stress this enough, that you maintain at all times a positive reinforcement when bonding with any Cockatoos you get your hands on. It might take some time, but it will all be worth the effort as you´ll get the amazing pets Cockatoos can be when given the proper care and attention. If you can’t afford to spend the time they need to be with you, having just another Cockatoo would do the trick since they both would have the same needs and can play with each other. Just make sure to provide a proper amount of toys to keep them busy and well entertained. You could also take this opportunity to mix two or more cockatoo species as long as there´s no problem with it, remember to consult this and any other decision you plan to take, and it should be as long as you are capable to handle more than one bird. 


There´s a big misunderstanding on the internet where most people say things like “cockatoos are needy and noisy birds”, or “if you don’t give enough attention to cockatoos they would become extremely noisy, angry and will start with the feather plucking”. This type of comment might scare you off or make you think that they need more cuddling and love to avoid this kind of behavior. What most people don’t understand is that they (humans) are the real problem and it is due to what I´ve been saying from the beginning, you must know all about Cockatoos before you acquire one and make sure you can truly commit to it. It would be better for the bird if you get a young Cockatoo after they are one year old, this would ensure that they got the sufficient amount of time to become a more independent animal and won’t seek as much attention as it would one that was separated from their parents at a younger age. 

This is because this species in particular, as parents, they are very affectionate with their chicks and take care of them until they can hunt on their own and fly without any problem, in other words, that they are ready to leave the nest. This being said, by taking this precious time for them as chicks, they will keep seeking this love and affection they’ve missed and there´s when or why they become so attached. Not only that, the fact that humans, as pet owners don’t know when nor where to put and set boundaries with Cockatoos by teaching them how to keep a certain distance from their owner so they won’t become so invasive and this allows them to become more independent, that they can play on their own while you are gone and the birds won’t make a mess.

If you and your family are going on a trip, take your Cockatoo with you, as they move in large flocks in the wild, let it be part of yours. They need that diversity, they need to do new things from time to time, avoid boredom at home, do not use the same routine over and over again. They are like little children, they like to explore, to know new places, to experience new things. 

Cockatoos make one of the best bird pets there is, being part of the parrot species, each bird has its qualities. Treat and raise them as you should, and you´ll be sure to get your reward for many years. Here’s a story that I hope can help you see from another perspective all that I wanted to tell you in this article, where it’s going to show you a way to be able to raise one of these magnificent birds and hopefully lead you to be the best cockatoo owner. It is a test that shows what human beings are capable of when they are committed to the idea while doing things from the heart, although it might be better if you start with a smaller species that is easier to handle like the Cockatiel. 

if you feel that I have missed any particular topic or information, please let me know in the comments section below.

Professor Whiskers
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