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Quaker Parrot

Eclectus Parrot

King Parrot

Princess Parrot

Superb Parrot

Regents Parrot


Small Australian Lorikeets






African Grey

African Love Bird


Indian Ring Neck

Larger Tropical Lorikeets

Black Capped Lory

Parrots As Pets

Sulphur Crested Cockatoo

Major Mitchell's Cockatoo


Black Cockatoo

Red Tailed Black Cockatoo

Gang Gang Cockatoo



Australian Cockatoos


Native to Australia, Papua New Guinea and Indonesia, there are over 40 species of cockatoo. These can be divided into two main groups - the white cockatoos and the black cockatoos. The species available as pets in Australia range from the well-known Sulphur Crested Cockatoo, the Galah, the Major Mitchell, the Red tail Black Cockatoo, to the lesser known White (Umbrella) Cockatoo. Overseas, the Moluccan and Umbrella Cockatoos also make a lovely pets but are rarely kept as pets in Australia due to their expense.


Cockatoos of any species should always be purchased from a young age and it is preferable to obtain a male hand reared bird from aviary bred parents. It is not recommended to obtain any parrot from the wild as these birds quickly revert to their wild behaviour and become unhappy in captivity.

The most obvious external feature of any cockatoo is the erectile crest that raises immediately after alighting and when alarmed or excited. The strong, heavy beak of the cockatoo is used to crack large seeds but can also produce a powerful and destructive bite. Consistent training from a young age will help ensure potential cockatoo owners enjoy a bird free of this destructive habit. Hand reared male Red Tailed Black Cockatoos are generally less prone to bite and make better pets, especially for younger owners, for this reason. However, these birds require an extremely dedicated owner who is willing to provide significant and meaningful attention to this highly intelligent species.


With a lifespan of up to 120 years with some cockatoo species, these birds make wonderful life long friends. They have great characters, a "cuddly" nature and enjoy physical interaction with their owner. Cockatoos deprived of this affection may become loud and develop unwanted behaviours. These friendly birds are good talkers but also possess the ability to make loud screaming noises. For this reason, cockatoos can be a challenging bird to keep and therefore require a committed owner who is willing to provide continuing obedience training.


Disease Susceptibility


Psittacine beak and feather disease (Circovirus infection or PBFD) is a problem that is frequently encountered in the white cockatoo species. The black cockatoos are less susceptible to this disease. PBFD is chronic and incurable and results in poor feather growth and ultimately, complete feather loss. The beak is also affected and becomes fragile and does not repair itself. Due to its highly contagious nature to other parrot species, it is advisable to avoid any bird suspected of having this condition.


Aviary Notes


Cockatoos generally require an aviary no less than four to six metres long by one to two metres wide. The best breeding results are achieved when one pair per aviary is kept. The aviary wire should be a heavy-duty grade, as cockatoos can easily chew holes through lighter grade wire. Similarly, the frame should be constructed of steel to avoid the birds chewing the structure away. Hollow eucalypt logs are best suited for nest boxes and should be approximately 30-40 cm in internal diameter and about 1m in length.

Sulphur Crested Cockatoo

The Sulphur Crested Cockatoo is a common inhabitant of open woodland and forest along the east coast of Australia extending along the northern coast and across the seas into Papua New Guinea. They are noisy and conspicuous birds and in the wild are wary and difficult to approach. As pets, they require a devoted owner and continuing obedience training from a young age.

Major Mitchell's Cockatoo

The Major Mitchell is a stocky, medium sized pink cockatoo with distinct yellow and red bands in the crest. This cockatoo species inhabits the sparsely timbered grasslands of central and Western Australia and generally moves in a nomadic fashion to sites with water and more favourable conditions. Major Mitchells are usually seen in pairs, often in the company of galahs. Major Mitchells form strong pair bonds and require an owner who is willing to provide meaningful interaction and socialisation. Birds deprived of this activity become susceptible to behavioural problems.

Black Cockatoo

The Black Cockatoos (Yellow and White Tailed) are one of the largest of the cockatoo species and have dull black plumage. In the wild, the Black Cockatoo Inhabits the south eastern and south western corners of Australia and is mainly found in tall eucalypt forests and pine plantations. These birds are noisy and conspicuous and generally socialise in family groups.


The Black Cockatoo has a need for attention that far outweighs any of the other cockatoo species, making this an extremely high maintenance bird and one that is generally not suitable as a pet. These birds are highly prone to stress in captivity and often become susceptible to behavioural problems such as feather picking and excessive screaming. The Red Tailed Black Cockatoo, whilst still demanding a lot of attention, is far more desirable as a pet.

Red Tailed Black Cockatoo

Large flocks of Red Tailed Black Cockatoo are commonly seen in the dry woodland areas of northern Australia. Further south, pairs or smaller family groups frequent Eucalypt forests and savannah woodlands. These birds are noisy and conspicuous and have a loud raucous call. The plumage of the male is black, with bright red tail panels, giving this bird a striking appearance. Like the Black Cockatoo, the Red Tailed Black demands a significant amount of attention from its owner and therefore should only be purchased by those who are willing to give this highly intelligent bird the love and attention it craves. When deprived of this attention, the Red Tailed Black Cockatoo becomes susceptible to behavioural problems.

Gang Gang Cockatoo

In the wild, the Gang Gang Cockatoo is found along the eastern coast of Australia, inhabiting dense mountain forests and open woodland regions. They are usually seen in pairs, family parties or small groups, a social characteristic that makes this bird highly demanding as a pet. Gang Gang Cockatoos form strong pair bonds with their owner and require a great deal of training and care to avoid the occurrence of behavioural problems.


Feather picking as a result of boredom is a common condition seen in Gang Gangs that are deprived of the attention they require. Gangs also love to chew things and should be provided with stimulus to keep them interested and entertained. Gang Gangs are not considered to be a good pet bird due to their boredom related behavioural problems.

Galah (Rose Breasted Cockatoo)

These well-adapted birds are found in abundance throughout central Australia. They are also becoming increasingly common towards the coastal regions. They are usually seen in large flocks, often feeding with Sulphur Crested Cockatoos.


Galahs make wonderful, energetic pets and when trained with consistency have a good talking ability. These birds have an affectionate and bubbly personality and are extremely popular as pets in Australia. They are very smart and enjoy human company, loving to learn new tricks and impress their owner.


Being well adapted to the dry conditions of central Australia, the Galah is a hardy and robust bird that adjusts well to climatic changes. They are also keen chewers and require toys or other forms of boredom relief to keep them stimulated and out of trouble.

Pet galahs should always be obtained as hand reared birds from aviary-bred parents and once again, males generally make better pets than females. It is not advisable to obtain a pet Galah from the wild as these birds quickly revert to their wild behaviours and become difficult birds to keep.


Galahs are especially prone to fat tumours and require a balanced, low fat diet and plenty of exercise as prevention.


Helpful information on how to look after your new pet bird.

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