Cockatoos make exceptional companion birds for owners with decent bird-keeping experience, if their needs and requirements are adequately met.
However, they can be challenging for newbies because of their rather phobic behavioral issues, such as plucking and screaming, arguably occasioned by early weaning.
Due to the threat the hobby poses to wild-caught birds, keeping some cockatoo species is also restricted, but most types are allowed in homes even without an aviculture license.
In my experience, only the great black cockatoo seems to require some paperwork to own.
Essentially, a form of license is necessary to own or house a black palm cockatoo if you live in a country that participates in the CITES program…
…whereas only a free license is needed to keep other cockatoo types in most regions, assuming owning one is not entirely unregulated.
See more insight below.
Can You Own A Cockatoo
As we saw above, owning a cockatoo is not out of reach.
It is possible for most people, regardless of their general region or age, to own one.
Even so, cockatoos are not suitable for beginners as your average parakeet and cockatiel. They are more demanding, with complex behavioral issues that only an accustomed owner can adequately handle.
So, if you’ve never kept parrots before, I recommend you start with cockatiels, then move on to a cockatoo when you’ve honed essential bird-keeping skills.
That said, in case you are wondering what cockatoos are like as pets!
Let’s just say they are AWESOME!
They are arguably more exciting than smaller parrots such as cockatiels, budgies, and lovebirds, although a little more destructive
They’ll most likely be more vocal as well, albeit having better-talking abilities.
A well raised, socialized, and trained cockatoo will make an ideal companion, offering sweet affection and a chatty demeanor that sounds a little like a talking-robot.
They are also exceptionally cuddly birds that want to be with people or companions as much as possible.
However, their sociable-tendency also makes them pretty clingy hence not ideal for owners working long hours.
In terms of regulation, you do not need a license to own most cockatoo species, though some native, rare, endangered types may require you to have some form of permit.
Do You Need A License for A Black Cockatoo
Palm, Goliath, or Great-black cockatoo is a large smoky-grey or black parrot with a large black beak and prominent red cheeks, native to Australia, New Guinea, Aru Islands, and Cape York peninsula.
Although there is not much information on keeping them, you may need a license to own one in Australia since they are a native, exotic species.
They are also somewhat endangered because of habitat destruction and are gradually becoming harder to find. For this reason, red-tailed black cockatoos are generally expensive, with most birding enthusiasts preferring to keep the white variant.
For the same reasons, black cockatoos are not popular as pets, more so outside Australia, meaning the only paperwork that seems to apply globally is a CITES II license.
Any other regulations away from this are most likely country, region, or territory-specific.
What Do You Need For A Cockatoo
Before you settle on purchasing a cockatoo, the very first thing you’ll want to consider is whether your schedule allows you to have one. Most parrots need companionship and stimulation, and spending quality time with your birdie is essential.
I do not recommend getting a bird if you work long hours or travel away from your permanent residency a lot. Most types are more ideal for stay-at-home parents or owners working from home.
You should be able to let your cockatoo out of the cage every day, cuddle, play, and dance with her to prevent self-destructive behavior such as plucking, which is quite common with cockatoos species.
You’ll also need enough time to clean up after your bird, plus keep an eye on him to ensure she does not destroy too many of your priced items.
If you want the bird for a child or first-time owner, a cockatoo is definitely not ideal since they are quite aggressive and tend to have more behavioral issues.
We do not recommend cockatoos as first-time pets because they are more temperamental than smaller birds and have larger claws and beaks: Birdstreet Bistro.
Now, after evaluating your living situation and believe a cockatoo is ideal for you, there are several items you should get to keep your birdie comfy, happy, and exceptionally busy.
You do not want a bored, unhappy bird because she (he) will find a way to stay busy, and you may not like the outcome.
The first I consider is adequate housing.
Considering a medium-sized cockatoo (between 14 and 16 inches), the cage you get should be large enough with room for your birdie to flap her wings freely, stretch, play, and explore. Experts recommend at least a 38″ wide, 26″ deep, and 6′ high cockatoo-cage, albeit one as large as you can afford is always better.
The next thing to consider is your cockatoo’s cage setup and what to put in there. Consider essentials such as perches, toys, water dishes, food bowl, cuttlebone, mineral blocks, a birdbath, cage sand, and so on.
Next, you need to consider the diet you feed your cockatoo. Essentially, a balanced diet with all four major food components (proteins, carbs, vitamins, and minerals) should be made available.
Feed your birds a recipe that’s 60 to 70 percent quality pellets food augmented with plenty of vitamins, 25 percent veggies and fruits, and 5 percent seeds, nuts, and tasty treats.
Sunlight is also part of making sure your cockatoo gets the full range of nutrition. Without the sun, a parrot simply cannot absorb everything properly.
For this reason, make sure you position your cockatoo’s cage in an area with adequate sunlight exposure, plus allow him to sit in an outdoor aviary once in a while.
The last thing you will want to consider is grooming. From the feathers, nails, beak, and even the skin, your cockatoo should be well tended to.
The bird’s feather should be groomed regularly to stay healthy, including a gentle spray with water. You can also use a suitable spray together with a special solution with advice from your avian vet or local pets store expert.
As for cutting your cockatoo’s nails, you can use a file or clipper to reduce the length, but be careful since cockatoos sit on the larger side of parrots with claws that can inflict quite some damage.
I do not recommend doing anything to your parrot’s beak. If you think it needs some work, contact and let your avian vet have a look since they are more qualified to offer advice and even groom your cockatoo’s beak.