Cockatoos are delightful pets and probably some of the cutest birds you’ll meet. Scientists recognize 21 species, mainly native to Australia and Southern Asia. They are part of the Psittaciformes order which also includes true parrots and New Zealand parrots. While all pets require responsible care, cockatoos are typically long-lived, offering a different ownership experience. Depending on the type of Cockapoo, you can expect them to live between 15-65 years. Let’s review the numbers and care.
Cockatoo Average Lifespan
Captive birds generally live longer than their wild counterparts because they don’t face the same environmental pressures. However, these are replaced by other physical and mental health needs that pet owners must fulfill for optimal well-being. Nevertheless, you’ll see differences in the ages of wild and captive animals.
How Long Do Cockatoos Live in the Wild?
The difference in lifespan between the captive birds we listed above and life in the wild is 10 years or more, depending on the species. The other factor to consider is the mortality of young birds. That’s when they are most vulnerable. Raptors are some of the top predators. Cockatoos are social animals, which gives them an advantage. Some group members act as guardians, alerting the flock to danger.
Cockatoos, like other parrots, are quite vocal. The parents act instinctively and keep down the noise that would blow their cover in the nest.
The lifespan of wild cockatoos is poorly documented, so many assume a reduction of ten years from the captive life expectancy is reasonably accurate.
How to Care for Your Cockatoo for a Long Lifespan
Cockatoos require responsible care to live to their potential. Prospective pet owners should keep their long lifespan in mind before committing to raising a bird. Remember that they can outlive you, making them lifelong avian companions. Researching the species’ natural history will provide valuable information toward ensuring a healthy and long life.
Feeding & Diet
Proper nutrition is at the crux of a long lifespan. Cockatoos live in diverse habitats with many food choices available to them. In the wild, cockatoos eat a wide variety of seeds, fruits, nuts, berries, flowers and vegetation, as well as insects and their larvae (in some cases).
Of course, replicating that diet in captivity isn’t feasible. Meeting your pet’s nutritional needs is made easier by providing a pelleted diet formulated for these birds. That can take care of the vitamins and minerals they need.
You should also supplement your diet with fruits and vegetables for added interest and mental stimulation. We recommend that the latter makes up the bulk of what you offer. Good choices include green beans, carrots, and bell peppers. Seed-only diets leave your pet vulnerable to nutrient deficiencies that could negatively impact the bird’s quality of life.
We recommend getting the largest cage you can afford for your pet’s dedicated space. The chances are your cockatoo will spend a good chunk of time in their enclosure. You should place it out of drafts or direct sunlight. You should add perches of varying sizes and shapes to protect the animal’s feet. A hiding place will provide welcome cover.
A playpen on top of the cage is an excellent space saver that can cut down on the mess. You can add toys for mental stimulation and rotate them to keep interest high. Remember that bored pets are destructive ones, and cockatoos are no exception. Goffin’s Cockatoos are among some of the most intelligent species of this group, but enrichment is imperative for the well-being of any captive bird.
Mental stimulation and daily interaction are imperative for your cockatoo’s health. Remember that these birds are social animals. It’s particularly essential for single pets. However, your time and effort will be well-rewarded with an affectionate bird. Interactive toys can provide additional enrichment to prevent boredom and self-destructive behavior.
Birds are messy eaters, and cockatoos are no exception. A cage skirt will help keep the food inside the cage instead of on the floor. You should remove uneaten fresh foods promptly to avoid spoilage. We recommend cleaning the cage thoroughly at least weekly. Ensure you use a bird safe disinfectant for cleaning the cage and the food and water bowls/bottles.
Cockatoos are socially monogamous, which means a pair will bond together to mate and raise the offspring. Socially monogamous pairs may remain together over several breeding seasons, or only one breeding season. They engage in considerable parental investment. Your role as the owner of a captive bird/s is to provide a healthy environment and diet. If you plan on breeding your birds, seek expert help and do your research before embarking on this journey. Some species of cockatoo are more difficult to breed successfully than others.
We recommend finding an avian vet when shopping for a cockatoo. Your bird should get annual exams with the necessary tests to stay on top of medical issues. It’s far better to have a relationship with a clinic before an emergency arises.
The Three Life Stages of a Cockatoo
1. Eggs Through Hatchlings
Like other parrots, cockatoos are altricial at birth and are utterly dependent upon their parents for survival. Both male and female parents will incubate the eggs until hatching, although the mother takes on most of the care after that point. Keeping her happy and stress-free will help ensure a good start for the chicks.
2. Young Birds
At 12 weeks, cockatoos reach the fledgling stage of their young lives. They tend to stay with their parents and help to gather food. They stay within their flock to learn all the things they need to know about life outside of the nest.
3. Sexual Maturity
The age of sexual maturity varies with the species. For example, the White-Crested Cockatoo reaches this milestone at 5–6 years. Good nutrition through growth and development will help ensure a long lifespan.
How to Tell Your Cockatoo’s Age
It’s difficult, if not impossible, to age cockatoos accurately once they’ve reached adulthood. Many breeders sell hand-raised birds, making it easy to age your pet. We recommend opting for these birds because of the early handling they receive, which can make them better pets. Also, knowing where your bird has come from and that it has been bred in captivity ensure you are not buying a bird that has been taken from the wild.
Cockatoos are friendly and affectionate pets when given the proper care. They are long-lived, which a healthy diet and mental stimulation can help ensure. Fortunately, it’s easy to find the things you need to keep your pet physically and mentally fit. In addition to these, your bird will need daily interaction with you as its human companion.
Featured Image Credit: Vishal shinde, Shutterstock