With the cockatoo, you're taking in a bird that will require a lot of your time. But it can become a sociable, intelligent life-long friend. Read more here.

Which species: parrots (parrots of Africa and the New World)

What it looks like: body: solid colored (white, gray or black), also often yellow, red and pink on crest, cheeks and tail. Usually, a vivid colored ring around eyes. Gender usually not recognizable by sight. 300 - 500 gr.

Where it comes from: Australia and islands around Oceania

How long it lives: 30-70 years, sometimes longer

Number of eggs per nest: 1-8, depending on species

Did you know? Some cockatoos can live up to 80 years.

Cockatoo: a lot of personality

With the cockatoo, you are taking in a bird that will require a lot of your time, especially if you are only keeping one. It is also not easy to create the right living environment for this bird. But if you succeed, you’ll have a sociable, intelligent, lifelong friend.

Social behaviour and care

The cockatoo is a lively, affectionate and very active bird that is quite happy to cuddle and wants to build a close relationship with you. Without affection, the cockatoo becomes depressed or neurotic. You must therefore give it a lot of attention and keep at least two birds.

The cockatoo is very loud, but can imitate almost any sound, including words. How well the bird speaks depends on the species and on your efforts.


Give your cockatoo a daily portion of dry food, half of which is supplemented with fruit (almost all kinds are good), seeds and vegetables (cooked pieces of potato, corn, beans, cauliflower ...). Feel free to supplement with palm kernels, nuts, fresh grass seeds, fresh herbs and coconut. You can also give it an enriched seed mix that’s tailored to cockatoos. During the breeding and moulting periods give it egg food.

When it comes to dry food, it’s best to serve special pellets. These contain all the essential nutrients in exactly the right proportions. This prevents the bird from eating selectively and not consuming all it needs as a result.


You can keep the cockatoo both indoors and outdoors, in a spacious aviary or cage. For example, for a pair of a small cockatoos, such as the 30 cm pink cockatoo, you will need an aviary of at least 3m x 2m x 1.5m. Larger cockatoos should be housed in an aviary of at least 5m x 2m x 2.4m. Indoors, you can keep the cockatoo in a smaller cage, provided you let the bird out to fly freely during the day.

Are you going the aviary route? Then also provide a heated interior, as well as perches, a drinking bowl, a feeding bowl for each bird, a bath with fresh water, and many toys: climbing rope, trees and boxes, paper/cardboard for shredding, feeding puzzles ... Natural gnawing materials are also very popular.

The aviary does not have to be completely covered, but your cockatoos should be sheltered and draft-free. Make sure the bars are horizontal so that the cockatoo can climb on them. On top of this, go for sturdy metal mesh: this bird gnaws vigorously.

As ground cover you can choose, for example, shell sand. This surface should be changed once a week. Also clean the toys, ropes and perches weekly. The food and drinking bowl and bathwater should all be changed daily.


If you want a tame bird, it’s best to go for a cockatoo that grew up with people. According to the UN's international CITES convention, you are only allowed to keep a cockatoo that was bred in captivity, and with documents proving that you obtained the bird legally.

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