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13 Fascinating & Fun Cockatoo Facts You Never Knew

Ashley Bates

Cockatoos are some of the most interesting domesticated birds and also some of the most common. Even though you might know these friendly birds because of their bubbly personalities, we can bet you don’t know everything about these little flyers!

Here are a baker’s dozen of the most fascinating facts we could find about cockatoos. These birds are amazing in every way—and even versatile. Let’s dig in!divider-birdcage

The 13 Most Fascinating Cockatoo Facts:

1. Cockatoos Are Very Spirited Birds

Cockatoo with beak open
Image Credit: vmdj2002, Pixabay

Cockatoos are one of the most popular domesticated birds, but they come with a spicy attitude as well. Having a cockatoo is a lot like having a rambunctious toddler. They require a lot of your attention and love to push the boundaries at every turn.

So, when you opt for one of these cuties, be prepared for an exuberant personality and a strong will.


2. Cockatoos Are Velcro Birds

Major Mitchell's cockatoo
Image Credit: Tanya Puntti, Shutterstock

Cockatoos are often described as Velcro birds. What this means is that they absolutely love their humans, and they thrive on their companionship. They want to be basically attached to your body at any given moment and despise alone time.

Once they imprint on someone, it never goes away for them. That’s why just one of these birds is such a huge commitment. Many times potential owners don’t understand just how affectionate and attached these birds can become.

Your bird looks at you as an extension of themselves, sharing all of them with you.


3. Cockatoos Are Oceanic Birds

Sulphur-Crested Cockatoo playing toy outside
Image Credit: sandid, Pixabay

Cockatoos are tropical birds and hail from one of the most beautiful places on earth. They are riddled throughout Australia, New Zealand, New Guinea, and other small surrounding islands.


4. Cockatoos Have Interesting Beaks

1Cockatoo
Image Credit: Benita5, Pixabay

Cockatoos have incredibly interesting beaks. While their bite force isn’t as strong as, say, macaws, they still have an impressive bite for a strength of 350 PSI. That means if your cockatoo ever gets frisky, they can easily tear through your flesh.

But no worries, these birds are usually very gentle and docile, using their powerful beaks for snacks, wooden toys, and other forms of entertainment.


5. Cockatoos Are Dimorphic Birds

pearl-cockatoo-pixabay
Credit: Julantique, Pixabay

Umbrella cockatoos are sexually dimorphic, which means you can visually tell whether or not a cockatoo is male or female. Both sexes have a pale blue ring around their eyes. However, males have a brown iris and females have a reddish tone.


6. Cockatoos Have Impressive Lifespan

Cockatoo in a branch
Image Credit: ignartonosbg, Pixabay

When you commit to a cockatoo, chances are they might outlive you. These birds typically live from 40 to 70 years. However, they have lived over 100 years in captivity. It is imperative to make sure these birds have a care plan if anything happens to you.

Many cockatoos, and other parrots, end up in homeless situations (or they get passed around from owner to owner), which can be emotionally devastating for them. It’s best to pass them to a responsible person who can commit to them for a lifetime.


7. Cockatoos Have Loud Mouths

Gang-Gang Cockatoo_Chris Watson_Shutterstock
Image credit: Chris Watson, Shutterstock

Cockatoos are not quiet birds. They often let out ear-piercing vocalizations. If you are an experienced owner or prefer not to have loud noises, this is definitely not the bird for you.

There are much quieter selections, such as cockatiels and lovebirds. But what volume control cockatoos do not have, they make up for with enthusiasm and lovingness.


8. Cockatoos Can Reach Up to 43 Miles Per Hour in Flight

Yellow-Tailed Black Cockatoo
Image Credit: Imogen Warren, Shutterstock

Even though cockatoos in captivity have their flight wings clipped to prevent injury, those in the wild are quite fast. Cockatiels have short legs and a waddling gait to help them navigate through branches quickly.

But their wings are long and broad, used for rapid flight exceeding 43 mph. The fastest of all the cockatoos are the galahs.


9. Cockatoo Pairs Co-Parent Their Offspring

red-tail black cockatoos_Terri Sharp_Pixabay
Image Credit: Terri Sharp, Pixabay

Cockatoos are monogamous breeders, keeping the same mates throughout their breeding months. It’s very common in the wild for cockatoos to pair up before they reach sexual maturity.

Both male and female cockatoos take turns sitting on their eggs after they have made a nest. After the babies are born, both parents take care of their offspring. It’s a team effort.


10. Cockatoo Translates to “Older Sibling.”

Goffin's Cockatoo on log
Image Credit: vinsky2002, Pixabay

The name cockatoo dates all the way back to the 17th century, deriving from the word “kaketoe”, an adaptation of Malay word “kakaktua”—meaning parrot with a large crest. It also has some 18th-century terms, like cockatoon, cacato, cokato, and cocatoo.


11. Snowball the Cockatoo Is Capable of Beat Induction

Sulphur-crested cockatoo with crest erect
Image Credit: Ken Griffiths, Shutterstock

Hatched in 1996, a male Eleonora cockatoo named Snowball was the first non-human animal that was capable of beat induction. Beat induction is receiving an experience in music by dancing to the beat.

You might not think that this is unusual, as parents often bobble to music. However, Snowball specifically synchronized his body movements to the beat of the music.


12. Cockatoos Have Appeared in Films

Hyacinth Macaw
Image Credit: Erika Kirkpatrick, Shutterstock

Cockatoos have been featured in films throughout the ages. Most recently, you might recognize the cockatoo in the movies Rio and Rio II. Nigel, a sulfur crested cockatoo voiced by Jeanine Clement, is the main antagonist in both films. He plays a very theatrical, mischievous villain trying to disrupt the blue macaw pair at every turn.


13. There Are 21 Different Cockatoo Species

1Cockatoo
Image Credit: Benita5, Pixabay

When you think of a cockatoo, the first thing that might come to mind is an all-white cockatoo with a yellow crest. This is the most common type of cockatoo you would see in a pet shop or on the bird trade market. However, there are several different types of cockatoos, totaling 21 in all:

  • Baudin’s Black Cockatoo
  • Blue-Eyes Cockatoo
  • Carnaby’s Black Cockatoo
  • Cockatiel
  • Ducorps Cockatoo
  • Galah Cockatoo
  • Gang-Gang Cockatoo
  • Glossy Black Cockatoo
  • Goffin’s Cockatoo
  • Little Corella
  • Major Mitchell’s Cockatoo
  • Moluccan Cockatoo
  • Palm Cockatoo
  • Red-Tailed Cockatoo
  • Red-Vented Corella
  • Slender-Billed Cockatoo
  • Sulphuric-Crested Cockatoo
  • Western Corella
  • White-Crested Cockatoo
  • Yellow-Crested Cockatoo
  • Yellow-Tailed Black Cockatoo

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Conclusion

So, did you know all of these facts—or were you amazed? These beautiful creatures are absolutely intriguing—from their variations, flight capabilities, and superb parental instincts. This knowledge will just help you appreciate all of these different cockatoo species more than you already do.

Which fact did you find the most surprising about our spunky feathered friends?


Featured Image Credit: hartono subagio, Pixabay

Ashley Bates

Ashley Bates is a freelance dog writer and pet enthusiast who is currently studying the art of animal therapy. A mother to four human children— and 23 furry and feathery kids, too – Ashley volunteers at local shelters, advocates for animal well-being, and rescues every creature she finds. Her mission is to create awareness, education, and entertainment about pets to prevent homelessness. Her specialties are cats and dogs.