The Need For Attention
Cockatoos are very social birds. They usually live in large flocks and are thus used to heavy interaction with others of their species. It is natural for them to seek companionship and to frequently communicate with others of their flock. They are also very intelligent birds and require stimulation.
Toos are known as one of the most affectionate species of birds. The term "velcro bird" is often used to describe their affectionate behavior which so endears them to humans. They are birds who usually bond to a mate strongly and for life. It is this characteristic which enables them to be so loving to a human.
A bored and neglected cockatoo is an unhappy cockatoo who can become mentally ill. Being denied the basic social interaction which is inherited in their genes can cause them to become stressed and ill, pluck their feathers, mutilate themselves and even become mentally insane. African greys and macaws as well as cockatoos exhibit this behavior.
Anyone who owns a cockatoo as a pet must ensure that their social needs are satisfied. It is important that they feel part of a flock and that they do not become bored. Their cages should be placed so that they can view daily activity and be part of the family. When passing the cage, an owner should stop and talk to his bird for a few moments. They should be given toys to keep them busy and entertained while in their cages. And they should be allowed out of their cages and played with for a period of time each day.
While a too does require attention, like a child they can be very demanding. It is important to manage your bird's expectations. Be consistent. Do not spoil your bird with hours of attention when you first get it. Later if you try to cut back your time together, your bird will not understand and will feel abandoned. He will expect the amount of attention he has been used to and can express his confusion and displeasure by screaming, biting and other unpleasant behaviors. Even worse, you can damage your pet's trust in you and the bond which you have built together.
Give your bird a consistent amount of attention, an amount which you can reasonably give on a daily basis. Give him toys to keep him entertained and busy while in his cage, talk to him frequently and place his cage where he can see and feel part of the family's (his flock's) daily activities. Take him out of the cage and play with him for at least an hour or two each day.
Your rewards will be great and you will have a healthy and happy pet.
I breed Umbrella and Eleanora Cockatoos. There is no reason why a cockatoo needs more attention and interaction than any other companion bird.
A baby cockatoo can be spoiled with constant attention, being snuggled hour after hour - it's easy to do. The babies are irresistible. They so clearly enjoy close contact, allow themselves to be petted all over the body and, for some, it's very flattering that a bird would so love and seek out human contact.
Cockatoos like other companion birds are healthier emotionally if they have a variety of interesting activities. Babies need to be taught that there are times during the day when they are expected to entertain themselves - they can take a nap, have a bite to eat, kill a toy. It is important that cockatoos and other companion birds learn that the human is the one who controls bird/human interaction. A bird in control of his own life is a very unhappy stressed bird. A bird's management skills do not encompass this type of control. Would you allow your 2 year old to control how he lived his life?
A cockatoo will enjoy being one of the flock. He may eat in the same room with his flock, watch TV, cuddle, play in or on his cage. What he may not do is spend hour after hour being attached to some human body part.
Choose any of the cockatoo species - they are and can be wonderful responsive companions and DO NOT need any more attention than any other species of companion bird. Who knows how many wonderful homes cockatoos had lost because the buyer thinks they need an excessive amount of attention and cuddling?
The buyer has a responsibility too. The contribution of the new owner during the critical first 2 years lays the foundation for the relationship over time. A cockatoo who is spoiled by either the handfeeder/breeder or the new owner is laying the foundation for a bird who will be passed from home to home.
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