Closing Observations on Cockatoo Reproduction in Aviculture

by D.T. Longo

Longo’s Aviaries Inc.
Meaford, Ontario, Canada

Chapter 3

Closing Observations on Cockatoo Reproduction in Aviculture.

To summarize in previous chapters of this topic, searching for reliable cockatoos with intact parenting skills does not always come as easy as acquiring 'proven' pairs. Where does one find these ideal candidates known as founder stock with the skills to commonly interact and nurture young? A great start is to seek the co-operation of local S.P.C.A.'s or avian rescue groups who get influx of cockatoos, seek a mutual understanding these birds are not ideal pets who carry hard to break habits whereby placing these birds in an environment with other birds is the best situation for each birds' individual life. Breaking unwanted behaviours and forcing these untame cockatoos does not make them better human companions, given the choice they would never select humans to interact with over other birds. Certain hand raised birds who failed in pet homes carry inherent social skills to enable them to interact with other birds of their kind. The angle of this achievement is to convert their human imprinting towards other birds, usually best results with younger birds. Some birds' human imprinting is so strong they can never be converted, thus remaining pet companions is probably the best place for them. My beliefs were always not to propagate cockatoos to feed this vicious circle of procreating handfed 'problem' cockatoos but to encourage parent raised birds for aviculturists' seeking ideal breeding stock for future generations.

The hundreds and thousands of single cockatoos of which are not ideal pets (perhaps wild caught founder stock) consuming their lifetime in one's living room with no other birds, no human interaction, just fear of what the next day holds and patiently waiting for their daily food rations; ideally, these are the birds we need to seek and acquire for our breeding programs. To utilize their natural behaviours and instincts to pass them on to further generations will be the key in ensuring future populations will multiply with less of the current obstacles we face when working with cockatoos.

Coming to a rational decision whether or not to risk a potential loss with young in the nest is not always the easiest decision to make. When one decides to allow the parents to raise young, the only major responsibilities we have is to ensure their feeding stations are full and being able to band the babies at the appropriate time. Some argue that cockatoos may be agitated by the shiny reflection of legbands and will try to remove them and sometimes sever the ankle or toe from the young; in most cases the young's lives are short lived if these shiny legbands do disturb them. One way to address this is try to ensure more darkness in the nest, the other is to apply dark tape around the legband which may help curb this problem which can then be removed once the young is fledged. Weeks and months will go by before the babies begin to peek out of the nests and become fully fledged and flighted birds.

When observing Introduction of cockatoos, it may be the best indication if they will be suitable candidates or not. Most of the times, one can almost instantly tell if the 2 birds being introduced are interested in each other. If one is over confident, it may intimidate the other so usually better to have each in 2 adjoining aviaries to view each other before full introduction, this is known as a soft introduction. Hard introductions are placing both the male and female in the same aviary without any prior introduction. The most ideal and commonly used introduction is to have the female first placed in the new aviary and keep the male by her in a close by enclosure for her viewing. Once the female feels comfortable in her aviary maybe after 7-15 days, she is able to claim this territory as her own and the male may then be introduced. This may save many birds (generally females) from being attacked or killed by following some of these simple steps.

The care and husbandry of cockatoos is not for everyone, to address their well being in my opinion require the highest amount of criteria to keep them and their offspring healthy. It is not difficult to acquire them on impulse, and for the most part safe to assume they require the same care as other parrots. Many that do keep them do not have breeding pairs with plucking or mutilating problems but there are twice as many more which do. If one can acquire non - human imprinted birds, keep their lives enriched from day to day in ample sized flights for encouraging exercise to ultimately have these birds raise their own young, we may be back on the right track to managing many of the wonderful species of cockatoos we already recognize in canadian aviculture.
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