Major Mitchell’s Cockatoo

Origin: Inland areas of AustraliaMajor Mitchell's Cockatoo

Class: Aves

Order: Psittaciformes (parrots)

Family: Cacatuidae

Subfamily: Cacatuinae

Genus: Lophochroa

Species: L. leadbeateri

Size: Medium. Average of approx 40 cm (15 inches) from the tip of the beak to the end of the tail feathers

Weight: 300 to 450 g

Wingspan: 32 inches /81 cm

Appearance: Major Mitchell’s cockatoo is also known as the pink cockatoo. This is a strikingly beautiful medium-sized bird with a soft-textured white and salmon-pink plumage. It’s notable for the bright red and yellow head crest. Male and female birds are almost identical, the male tends to be the larger of a pair and the female has a broader yellow stripe on the crest. This cockatoo has grey feet and a horn coloured bead.

Procreation: Like many parrot and cockatoo species, monogamy is the norm for the Major Mitchell’s cockatoo. In the wild, they nest in tree hollows, generally during the second half of the year. Persuading them to breed in captivity is difficult. The female lays 2 or 3 eggs, which are incubated for 26-30 days. After being hatched, the young birds are able to leave the nest at around 6 to 8 weeks, but the parents, mostly the male will continue to feed them for around another 8 weeks.

Temperament: Major Mitchell’s cockatoos bond strongly with their owners and have the reputation of being one person birds. They’re very intelligent and affectionate but do require lots of socialisation and interaction if they’re to maintain good emotional health. Plenty of handling and human interaction from a young age is important if they’re to realise their full potential as tame and affectionate birds. If under-stimulated, they can become nippy or self-destructive. Because they need so much attention and care, they’re more suitable for experienced bird owners than for novices.

Talkativeness: These are loud birds, so not generally recommended as a choice for apartment dwellers. Their ability to learn to talk or learn tricks is average to high.

Environment: Major Mitchell’s need a lot of cage space: 4ft. x 3ft. x 4ft is regarded as a minimum. They can be good escape artists, quite capable of learning to open their cage. If allowed to fly freely around the house, they can be destructive, so a secure care and supervised free time is recommended. These intelligent birds will also appreciate toys to play with and some are especially fond of mirrors.

Preferred Food: In the wild, they feed on seeds of native and exotic melons and on the seeds of species of saltbush, wattles and cypress pines. A healthy diet for a pet Major Mitchell’s cockatoo should consist of high-quality pellets, a medium amount of seed mix, and daily helpings of fresh fruit and vegetables. Like many cockatoos, they can be prone to weight gain so a well-balanced diet with a limited fat intake is a must.

Relationship with People: Their need for attention means that these birds make great pets for the right owner. They’ll do best with someone who wants a true companion pet bird. Because they can be nippy or aggressive, they’re not generally regarded as the best pet for a family with young children.

Common Health Problems: These cockatoos are prone to Sarcocystis, a parasitic disease that can be fatal, bacterial and fungal infections. Good hygiene should limit the risk of all of these. Major Mitchell’s can be picky eaters, so should be encouraged to eat a varied diet. Most other common health problems are emotional rather than physical. Mate aggression is not unknown and is one of the reasons why it’s challenging to breed them in captivity. Feather picking and other forms of self-destructive behaviour are generally a result of boredom and frustration.

Lifespan: Up to 75 years in captivity.