Everything You Need to Know About Cockatoos

Posted by Tori Holmes

Want a bird that will give you all their love and more? Here is everything you need to know about the cockatoo!

Originating in Australia, the Philippines, New Guinea, Indonesia, and the Solomon Islands, the cockatoo is the most monochromatic of all the parrot breeds. Unlike their colorful, large parrot cousins, cockatoos have distinctive white, black, grey, or pink feathers. Their more muted colors are caused by a lack of a special texture known as Dyck texture in their feathers.

Don't let their bland coloring fool you, though; cockatoos have very colorful personalities. As a breed, they are known for being smart, curious, and very loving. So loving, in fact, cockatoos are often called "love sponges"! They want to be around their humans 24/7 and enjoy nothing more than a good cuddle with their favorite human.

While this loving personality can be wonderful, they can become quite upset and destructive if they do not receive enough attention. Cockatoos who do not feel that their emotional needs are being met will scream, engage in feather plucking, and become aggressive. Due to this, even though they are popular pets, they are recommended for highly experienced bird owners only.

All cockatoo species besides the cockatiel are protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) including: Tanimbar corella (Cacatua goffiniana), red-vented cockatoo (Cacatua haematuropygia), Moluccan cockatoo (Cacatua moluccensis), yellow-crested cockatoo (Cacatua sulphurea) and palm cockatoo (Probosciger aterrimus) to discourage wild-caught cockatoos being sold into captivity. The cockatiel subspecies, the white cockatoo (sulphur-crested cockatoo- cacatua galerita- and Major Mitchell's cockatoo), and the Goffin's cockatoo are the most popular pets. 

Cockatoos are very vocal birds. They are able to learn some words but do not have the some ability to mimic human speech that other parrots have. Instead of using words to communicate, cockatoos squawk, often accompanied with loud screaming. You can also tell the bird's mood by the position of its crest.

  • Raised crest: Cockatoo is excited, alert, or agitated
  • Lowered crest: Cockatoo is feeling submissive or moving around
  • Relaxed crest: Cockatoo is eating, rest, or otherwise content

If you're looking for a bird that will give you all their love and more, the cockatoo is for you!

Hover over the image for more information.


Cockatoos are 11 to 13 inches in length and weigh approximately 90 grams.

They have a distinctive curved beak, much like a budgerigar’s. The upper portion is strong, smooth and much larger than the lower portion.


When the beak is closed, the upper portion completely conceals the lower portion. 


Cockatoos are monochromatic birds with white, black, grey, or pink feathers.

The crest of feathers on their head is one of their most distinctive features and they use it to communicate with other birds and show their emotions. The color of the crest is often yellow, but can also be black or pink depending on the body color of the cockatoo.


Cockatoos are very smart and have curious, loving personalities. However, if their emotional needs are not met they will scream, engage in feather plucking, or become aggressive.


Feather plucking is a concern with cockatoos. If they are bored, lonely or stressed they will become to pluck the feathers from their body.

Do you have a pet cockatoo? Show us in the comments!

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Everything You Need to Know About Cockatoos