Origin: New Britain, Papua New Guinea
Species: C. ophthalmica
Weight: 550 grams
Height: 17-19 inches (43-48 cm)
Appearance: The blue-eyed cockatoo is a mainly white bird with a mobile, erectile yellow and white crest. They have black beaks, dark grey legs and, most distinctively, a light blue rim of featherless skin around the eyes. The male and female of the species are very similar in appearance.
Procreation: This bird reaches full maturity at 4 years of age. In the wild they generally nest in large and high trees, the average height of a blue-eyed cockatoo’s nest is around 40 metres. The female generally lays just 2 eggs which are incubated for around 28-30 days. Chicks leave the nest sometime between 14-16 weeks.
Temperament: The blue-eyed cockatoo is considered to the friendliest of all the cockatoo species. They love to cuddle, are playful and trainable but also very needy. They will demand attention from their owners, and if they don’t get it are prone to behaviour problems. They can be destructive and will pluck their own feathers if bored.
Talkativeness: Blue-eyed cockatoos are noisy. They love to scream, so much so that most consider them to be unsuitable for apartment living. They can be trained to talk, though most will only learn a few words or phrases. They’re great mimics, don’t be surprised if your cockatoo learns the sound of your alarm clock, the doorbell, or even the boot up tune of your computer!
Environment: Because these are smaller than most cockatoos they don’t require as much living space. You could keep a blue-eyed cockatoo in a cage as small as a metre in all dimensions, but he or she would then need plenty of time outside the cage to exercise and stay healthy.
Preferred Food: In the wild, blue-eyed cockatoos feed on seeds, nuts, berries, fruits, insects and their larvae. In captivity their diet should be around 50% grains, 45% fruit and vegetables. Restrict the nuts, as like all cockatoos, blueeyed’s can have a tendency to weight gain. They’re fun to watch while they’re eating, using their zygodactyl feet to hold objects and to bring food to their beak
Relationship with People: Blue-eyed cockatoos love to play and they love to be loved. This is a perfect choice if you’re looking for a bird with the personality of a larger parrot but don’t have the space for one. However, if you aren’t prepared to devote a minimum of two hours a day to your pet, choose a less love-hungry bird. They’ll appreciate several hours a day outside of their cage for ‘playtime’ so make great house pets. They are best suitable to experienced bird owners.
Common Health Problems: Mostly related to incorrect nutrition, though parasites can also be an issue. Correct diet and impeccable hygiene will go a long way towards keeping your blueeyed cockatoo healthy. It’s worth remembering that when a bird looks ill, it’s likely that it’s already very unwell, as their natural instinct in the wild is to hide symptoms of weakness. Consult a vet with specialist bird knowledge at the first symptom that anything is not as it should be.
Lifespan: 50 years or longer
The Blue-eyed Cockatoo are highly intelligent, but to a large extent uncommunicative birds. Their ability to repeat some words or sounds can be accomplished with continuous training, however this is not their main distinctive feature. Instead, they revel in the act of performing. Cockatoos are very inventive and, if toys are not provided, they will use what is currently at hand. Such objects may often take the form of their food dishes or perches.
In order for an owner to train or handle a Cockatoo, that person should first gain the bird’s trust. Taming and training is best done in a room that offers as few distractions as possible. A hand-fed baby is more susceptible to training and could be handled from the start, because it would not feel threatened in the presence of humans.
Initial Training: The taming process is divided into several steps. The owner should start with cage taming. The owner’s aim here is to approach the cockatoo’s cage without the bird jumping off its perch and heading to an opposite corner. To achieve this effect, one should pronounce soothing words and make only slight movements until the parrot is accustomed to the owner’s behaviour. The second step involves hand taming, during which the Cockatoo will climb on the owner’s hand and will allow the latter to be carried around. This is done by offering the bird treats outside of the cage until the animal becomes comfortable with taking them from the owner’s hand. The cage door is then opened and the same process is repeated, however the owner should now offer the treat inside the cage. Once the person has earned the Cockatoo’s trust, the bird will begin climbing the owner’s hand and will allow to be petted.
Advanced Training: Other training, such as performing various tricks and imitating speech will require patience and repetition. However, the effort is bound to pay off, for almost every Cockatoo parrot is able to learn at least several words.
The bird’s natural ability to imitate speech and sounds can be enhanced by spending time talking, whistling and singing to the young pet bird. The more the owner converses with the bird, the faster the parrot will learn proper speech. The process should be started by repeating the parrot’s name clearly at feeding times during mornings and afternoons. The short attention span of young birds means that speech lessons should be kept brief (2 to 5 minutes). Parrots are natural mimics and as such will imitate almost any sound they hear as often as possible. The owner should pronounce a few two to three-syllable words or phrases slowly and cheerfully. Timing and consistency are important – mornings and evenings tend to be the time when parrots are most focused and absorb the most information. The best way to get speech patterns set in place is to pronounce them regularly.
When the owner converses with the bird, that person’s words should convey excitement and pleasure. When the bird is taught how to name objects, small and colourful ones should be prioritized. As a reward, the bird should receive the correctly guessed object.
Parrots may learn to speak softer than their usual high-pitched voices. The lesson should begin once the bird is relaxed. Training periods should not exceed more than 10 to 15 minutes at a time. This exercise should be started with simple short words and phrases, such as “hello” and “good morning”.
The Blue-eyed Cockatoo (Cacatua ophthalmica) is a large, mostly white-coloured parrot. The species’ name is derived from the light blue rim of featherless skin around parrot’s eyes. Not much is known of the Blue-eyed Cockatoo’s behaviour in the wild. These birds are usually found in pairs, however they may also congregate in flocks of up to 20 to 40 birds, effectively forming a conspicuous and screeching community.
They are native to New Britain, Papua New Guinea, where they thrive in a suitable habitat. The species’ population is estimated to consist of at least 10,000 mature individuals and the total estimate for all Cockatoos is about 15,000 individuals. This species inhabits lowland rain forests, found at elevations of up to 1,000 metres within the tropical belt. Although the parrots may also inhabit disturbed and partly deforested areas, they are likely to be dependent on primary forests for nesting trees.
This bird is under threat from the rapid clearing of lowland forests. The loss of suitable nesting trees may have had a significant impact on the species’ reproductive output. This problem, however, may be masked by the significant life expectancy of the Blue-eyed Cockatoo, which may trick one into believing that their numbers are still great. Unlike other Cockatoo species, the Blue-eyed one remained relatively unaffected from the trapping and pet trade activities. However, some of these birds are kept in plantations around the city of Rabaul in New Britain and there is evidence of them being traded.
The Blue-eyed Cockatoo is protected by the law and international trade of this species is carefully controlled and monitored on the grounds of Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). These birds have been bred at Chester Zoo in England over the course of many years and the zoo has also supported research endeavours targeted at the wild population.
Cockatoos are prone to weight gain. As a result, they require a low-fat diet. They should be provided with meals that consist of high quality pellets and a moderate amount of seeds. These meals should then be supplemented with a variety of fresh, bird-safe fruits and vegetables on a daily basis.
- A suitable Cockatoo diet consists of a basic seed mix, with supplements containing sprouted seeds and a variety of fruits and vegetables.
- Apples, pears, plums, oranges, bananas, peaches, carrots, lettuce, chickweed, dandelions are some of the more suitable supplements.
- The parrot should not be fed with avocado, for it has poisonous effects on birds.
- The owner may occasionally provide the bird with foods high on protein, such as cottage cheese, hard boiled eggs and cooked meat bones.
- The parrot should not be given any seasoned or processed meat.
- Unless the bird is going through a stressful period, vitamins and minerals are not required in a well-varied diet.
- If the Cockatoo has established a tendency of breaking calcium blocks to pieces, the owner may sprinkle the bird’s food with calcium once per week.
- The bird should have access to fresh drinking water on a daily basis.
The personal hygiene of Cockatoos may include a weekly shower or bath to remove any accumulated dust from the feathers. These parrots should be lightly brushed in the direction of the feathers on the top of their heads, neck areas and other areas that are unreachable for them. This will help remove the feather sheaths from new feathers, which would otherwise make the birds feel uncomfortable. The feathers should be trimmed to discourage flight and prevent Cockatoos from flying through open windows or doors. If beaks and claws are not worn down from climbing and chewing, they would need to be trimmed as well. A variety of perches is required in order to keep the nails trimmed.
Blue-eyed Cockatoos, similar to all Cockatoos varieties, need plenty of exercise. As a result, these birds should spend at least 3-4 hours out of their cages on a daily basis and under strict supervision. Exercise and play-related activities are important for the physical well-being and the psychological health of all Cockatoos. These will also prevent stress, as well as screeching and feather-plucking habits. Said activities need to be presented in the form of large link chains, bird ladders, parrot swings, ropes and fresh branches for chewing. Bird toys should also be rotated on a regular basis.