Moluccan Cockatoo Care Sheet

Scientific Facts

Scientific Name:Cacatua moluccensis
Life Span:Up to 70 years
Size:40 to 50 cm or 15.6-19.5 inches
Habitat:Lowland forest with vegetation
Country of Origin:South Moluccas, Eastern Indonesia

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Moluccan cockatoos, also called the Salmon Crested Cockatoos, are known for being affectionate and having a strong bond with their owners. They are cuddly and clingy sometimes. When they have a favorite person in the family, they become really close to that person as to how they treat their mate like they are in the wild. They stand out among others for their salmon-pink type of feathers and a crest with brilliant color. They have comical and boisterous personalities. An owner of this bird should be a dedicated one.

Physically, these cockatoos are the largest and described to be an intelligent and curious parrot. They live for a long time, testing the owner’s patience at first with their endless curiosity, loud talking, and shenanigans. Nonetheless, an owner would still say that these birds are still the best, for they are fun, cuddly, and loving.

Cockatoos have more than 20 species having their own personalities and behaviors. They are so sociable. They forage in the wild in flocks having 100 birds. They often come in white color and native to Australia, Tasmania, and New Guinea. They can live up to 60 years or more in the wild.

Physical Description

These are the largest having almost 20 inches and weigh between 640 to 1025 grams, but on average, Moluccan Cockatoo birds weigh 850 grams. Their most unique feature is the feather crest above their heads and bright pink feathers that serve as an adornment on the crest’s base. It is displayed to show excitement, fear, or anger. In addition, they use this crest to attract their mates, defend their territory, call flock members, and so on.

A raised crest is a warning sign, too, so you should not touch them, or else they will bite you, while a lowered crest means they are friendly, calm, and approachable. Thus, it used to communicate. This crest is not so much notice when feathers go flat. Primarily they are white having salmon color on

Adults are soft peach in color, having a bright and dark peach crest. There is a soft yellow suffusion under the tail and wings. Irises are black, and the area around the eyes is white. Males have a black eye, while females are dark brown.

Native Region or Natural Habitat

Moluccan Cockatoos are in the tropical forests in a single archipelago of Seram, Indonesia. This island is a haven for parrots having more than 117 bird species. Many parrots are found only on this island. Sadly, these Moluccans are vulnerable, and there are laws made to prevent the trapping and hunting of these birds.

These birds are inhabiting the lowland forest between 100 to 1200 meters. They are in the undisturbed and disturbed lowland forests having large trees and canopy forests having low vegetation.

Speech and Sounds

Moluccan Cockatoos is one of the chattiest parrots. Although they are just average talkers knowing a few and simple words, they do mimicry excellently. They have a comic representation of human’s daily conversation. This makes goofy and hilarious mumbling with some discerning words. Yes, they can be noisy, but they are adorable for their silliness.

Personality & Behavior

These birds are affectionate, sweet, and especially aging males are aggressive. That is how they are described. They love to be loved, and they always need the company of a person or a bird. They will be following you around the house, cuddle with you, and have a conversation with you like it is real. Their goofiness will be hard to resist, and you will just find yourself loving them.

Mentally, they are intelligent and want to thrive on challenges. They can learn to dance and perform tricks giving their owner a sort of entertainment. That is when they are in a good mood. They may not be the best talkers, but they can copy sounds.

However, it sounds like yelling instead of talking. To catch attention, they scream when they get unhappy or just for no reason. It could cause some troubles to your neighbors. Take note that a crank cockatoo tends to bite. Their beaks are designed for cracking nuts. Thus, they are not ideal for children.

As you spend time with your pet, you will discover more of their personalities. They could test your patience and understanding as well, but you will definitely love their nature. Keeping them in a house is better than an apartment.

Feeding Moluccan Cockatoos

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Naturally, they are fed on fruits like rambutan, langsat, durian and papaya, nuts, and seeds. They also eat growing corn, making them pests to farmers. Insects like crickets are also a part of their meal. In captivity, a seed mix intended for cockatoos can be bought at stores. This resembles their food in the wild. It gives the nutrients from berries, nuts, insects, and seeds. Vegetables and fruits would balance their diet. put some apples, kale, carrots, and bananas.

Wash them well to avoid infections from parasites. Offer high-quality pellets and some mixtures of seeds to make sure they get all the nutrients they need. It is very important to guard your pets’ weight. Don’t let them gain too much weight. Diet must be well-balanced.


Moluccan cockatoos need lots of exercise to keep their physical and mental state healthy. Let them stretch those muscles out by 3 hours outside their cage. In doing so, make sure it safe for your birds to go out.

They should not be hurt or injured or escape, which you don’t want to happen. Hiding their food will be an enjoyable challenge for them. Toys would be an avenue to exercise their beaks. Wood made toys are ideal. Toys are available at pet stores and markets.


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Your cockatoo must be healthy and mature before going into breeding. They should be used to their environment and well-fed. Cages must be clean too. Moluccan cockatoos breed once a year only from December and March. This time vegetation and food are at a peak and available.

Cockatoos have a strong tie. Once they are separated, they suffer from depression. A caretaker is considered a mate when their true bird mate is absent. In captivity, they breed well. They can start breeding at 3 years old. A hand-reared bird at 8 to 10 years old, especially the males who are hand-fed. Their breeding life span is up to thirty years.

For the breeding cage, it should be big enough to let flight happen. 1 inch by 2 inch 12-gauge wire is good for the cage. The width should be 4 feet by 4 feet by 8 feet long and is 4 feet above the ground. The males are aggressive to their mates; in fact, they tend to bite the wings, legs, and face of the female.

To clip the male’s wings before the breeding would let the female escape once her mate gets aggressive. In pairs of compatible breeding, aggressive behavior shows. Bear in mind that these breeding cockatoos are noisy at night, and they could be annoying to your neighbors.

Nest Boxes

To lessen the chance of the male cockatoos from trapping their mate, use a double-entrance nest box. A large box made of wood is good. The size should be 18 by 18 by 24. As an alternative, use garbage cans, use metal barrels and plastic pickle barrels. Their clutch size is 2 to 3 eggs. Incubation takes 24 to 26 days. At 12 to 14 weeks, the chicks fledge usually. Hand-rear formulas can be used, but it should not contain much fat so as not to overfeed them.

Care of Chicks

Regular checking of the nesting box should be a routine in order to monitor if chicks are eating properly. Lots of water and fresh food should be given daily. First-time parents tend not to care for their young. You need the proper equipment to hand-rear your chicks.

Putting them in an incubator and feed them every 2 hours. Ask your vet for the proper way of feeding. This age for your bird is prone to mortality and complications. Then, after some time, the chicks will begin to eat the seeds. If they can eat by themselves, you can separate them from their parents and start the process of taming them.

Life Cycle

Mating. They mate once a year. That is between December and March. Males have a show for them to attract females. They open their wings, spread their tails, ruffle their feathers, and raise their crest as they bob, bounce, and dance. When the invitation is accepted, they preen on each other. This pair will be mates forever.

Nesting. After they breed, they leave their group in search of a nesting spot. Nests are built of hollow trees. Nests are from 16 to 100 feet above the ground. The mother bird lays two to three eggs. Both parents sit on them. They turn the eggs and keep them moist as they are incubated. After 30 days, eggs are hatched.

Cockatoo Chicks. They are blind and naked. After a few weeks, their eyes will be open. both mother and father bird feed and keep the egg warm. 60 to 100 days after, the chicks will have their feathers fully developed.

Leaving The Nest. At about 4 months old, the chicks test their flying abilities. Mother and father birds continue feeding and guide them to build their wings’ strength and know-how to forage for their food. After a month, they are independent and weaned. Young ones stay with their flock. They get sexually mature at 3 to 4 years old.

Adult Cockatoos. They are often big and white, having a pink crest on their heads. They come in a large flock. They live for over 60 years.

Interesting Facts about Cockatoos

  1. From Down Under. All the 21 species are native to Oceania. Cockatoos are specifically endemic to Australia, New Guinea, and New Zealand, Solomon Islands, and Indonesia.
  2. Velcro Birds. Hand-fed babies who are properly tamed become extremely close with their owners for their whole life. They love being pet and be near their owners all the time. Devoting time to them is important. Handling and socializing for 2 hours with them is enough. Remember that they get depressed when they are not attended, leading to misbehaving and feather plucking.
  3. The 3-Way Bite. Cockatoos have lower mandible on their beaks. On their lower jaw is a U shape. This scoop shape lets this bird do the 3-way bite. This gives the power to clamp branches and foods and even their owner’s finger. That means their bite is damaging and more painful.
  4. Loud and Vocal. They are really loud. Their call can be heard from a far, particularly in the morning or nearly sunset. They are not recommended if you live in a small space as they can make your neighbors angry.
  5. Dimorphic. Both sexes are identical. It is difficult to tell their sex. Males could be larger than females, or plumages are bolder. For most species of cockatoos, looking into their eyes would tell the sex. The female’s eyes are light-colored, while males have dark irises, but the best way is through DNA.
  6. Prone to Obesity. They gain weight, so it is vital to monitor their diet. Give a minimal amount of seeds. Give various veggies and fruits. Include slices of bread and nuts.
  7. Naughty Nature. Despite being devoted and loving, they are also naughty. They chew and destroy cages. To deal with it, give enough attention and toys. Set their limits as early as you can. Rotating their toys will lessen their boredom.
  8. The Crest. Their crest is their way of expressing their feelings. An owner should interpret what the crest wants to imply. A raised crest is their body language. When breeding, it means to attract their mate. At times, it is to get attention by showing off. On the other hand, it means aggression or warning. It could be greeting, curiosity, or being startled.
  9. Limited Vocabulary. Generally, they can learn more than 20 words and just simple expressions.
  10. Black Feathers Are Rare. Most of the cockatoos are white, and very rare is black.

Fun Facts

  1. Moluccan cockatoos are a pest in the coconut plantations. They are fed on young coconuts. They chew the outer layers and get the milk and soft pulp.
  2. Both mother and father bird do the incubation.
  3. Moluccan cockatoos copy the sound of people and other animals.
  4. They use their one foot to and the other to break the food into pieces.
  5. They live in loose and small flocks.
  6. They have the shrillest cries.
  7. They are so gregarious.

Ecology and Conservation

Moluccan cockatoos become food to bigger animals. They are a pest on plantations. They disperse seeds through eating fruits. In the pet trade, they are very popular and easy to tame. They are affectionate to humans. They are used for shows and exhibitions. The USA prohibits import commercially as they are threatened or endangered.

Living with a Moluccan Cockatoo

Before planning to raise a cockatoo at home, here are some things you need to think about and consider:

Assessing Your Lifestyle

Tell your family about your future responsibilities toward your pet. You will need to exert much effort. Leaving the bird in their cage and feeding them is not enough. You need to allot time every day. Tell your family about this bird’s need for high maintenance.

Orient them of the bird’s behavior. Take into consideration your neighbors, too, who might be affected by the bird’s noise. Cockatoos are lifelong pets. You cannot just give it away when you no longer want. Most importantly, know if you really can sustain the needs of this pet. Know how much you will spend for the maintenance. You will need to spend on food, toys, visits to the vet, and more. If you think you cannot afford it, then this pet might not be the right pet for you.

Dealing with Cockatoo Traits

After deciding that this pet is for you, you need to know how to deal with their traits, especially. Cockatoos are messy in their cage. They need something to chew, causing a mess in and outside the cage. The toss papers on the floor too. Expect dust powder from their feathers.

Then, you will need to vacuum it. Put an air filter in the room. This bird loves chewing. Take note they will not chew the things in your house when they are out of their cage. Cockatoos are demanding and noisy. They screech so loudly when they are bored or just want to get attention.

Creating the Right Environment

Get a large cage. It should have lots of rooms for playing and exercising. It should be sturdy. Again, your pet is a chewer. The cage might end up being chewed if it is not sturdy enough. Your bird should have its own cage. It could be very aggressive to other birds, and it could kill using its beak. Don’t let two or more birds share one cage. Allot ample time with your pet.

It is a sociable animal who wants to be with people or animals all the time. Put the cage in an area where it could stay with your family. It would make the bird less lonely and avoid getting depressed. Keep it away from fumes in the kitchen. Under and around the cage, put a mat. The mats should be replaced like newspaper or paper bags. Don’t use shavings as they are toxic to your bird. Give lots of toys for playing. Don’t let it sit on your shoulder. It could bite your face. Also, don’t let them walk on the ground. They would think it is their territory. In their cage, make jungle gym. This would be their playhouse.

Common Health Problems

You should monitor your bird’s health condition to make them free from the following problems:

• Localized Herpes Infections. This is the growth of wart-like or white discoloration on their feet.

• Blood Parasites. This is caused by microscopic and tapeworms. These parasites are associated with kidney diseases.

• Bad, missing, or misshapen Feathers. This is led by Beak and Feather Disease. it is a deadly and highly contagious disease transmitted through the air.

• Cloacal Prolapse. It is resolved through surgery. When breeding, don’t use affected birds.

• Fatty Tumors. They could have lipomas. They are found on the ovary, kidney, and on the leg or foot.

• Tumors can be either benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous), which may involve any organ. Some bird species tend to develop lipomas or benign fatty tumors.

• Plucking feathers. Your bird will start pulling the feathers on its chest. Then it would go bald, getting wider and wider. Newly grown hair is pulled too. They even bite or nibble their skin, making a wound. They pluck themselves due to boredom or frustration. When they find no toys or not having interactions with others, they start plucking. Parasites are seen as another reason for plucking. To stop the plucking, remove the cause first. Give something to distract this habit. You can put a chest protector or put it in a large aviary and let it live with other cockatoos. With it, it will not be bored and have interactions instead. This behavior should be stopped, or else the wound could lead to infection and cause death to the bird.

• Psittacosis is. This is caused by Chlamydia psittaci, a bacterium. The symptoms are green color in the poop. Others are shortness of breath, fluid from the nose or eyes, audible breathing, and diarrhea. Infected birds often die in 2 weeks. The bacterium can be transferred through the feces, dust, saliva, or fluid and infected food. eggs can be infected, too, making them carriers from their birth. This is treated using antibiotics.

• Polyoma. This is due to a virus. Sadly, there is no vaccination or medicine. This disease shows no symptoms to birds, but it will affect the liver’s function due to blood clotting. Young ones will have bruises, and the belly gets swollen. Carriers remain as carriers for their whole life. transmission is through contact with skin, feathers, feces, and dandruff. Your bird’s immune system will fight polyoma. The cage and aviary should be cleaned and disinfected well. You can have your bird go for a test if you suspect it of being infected.

Recognizing a Sick Cockatoo

Your Moluccan cockatoo might be sick if it shows these signs and symptoms:


•Showing a slow response to something

•Feathers are puffed up

•Runny nose

•Slimes in the nose or eyes

•Breathing sound

•Loss of appetite

•Losing weight

Behavioral Problems

These could be indications of psychological problems. These could mean they are not happy too. They are caused by the owners keeping the bird in captivity, not letting it show the natural behavior. To deal with this, let them have interactions with you or other birds. Don’t let them stay alone feeling depressed and lonely. Include them with the other birds in the aviary. It is important to keep them socializing with others as it is their nature.

The behavioral problems manifested by cockatoos as follow:

  • Too much screaming
  • Feather plucking
  • Self-wounding
  • Attacking and biting
  • Apathetic
  • Stereotyped behavior

How to Care for Moluccan Cockatoos

In captivity, these cockatoos need a similar environment to their life in the wild. Thus, a strong bond with their owner is important. An owner should be dedicated to meet this bird’s needs. In other words, they need someone who stays at home, usually. However, if you really want to, you can have two Moluccans. They will entertain each other, but it would need more commitment.

In terms of the cage, choose the largest one. It should be sturdy to bear these birds’ nature. Plenty of toys are needed to match the energy. They produce powder for the feather preening. There will be dust on the surface. For people having an allergy, it can be a problem.

If you want to adopt one, you should contact local breeders. ask some help from someone who has the experience to help you choose which is the best for you. Do the checking beforehand before you make a decision. Unfortunately, these species have been left by their owners because they cannot address the bird’s needs. Take note that they tend to mutilate themselves when they are neglected, so you should be prepared before you decide to adopt one.

A faint-hearted and inexperienced owner doesn’t match this complex and intelligent bird. They could be very close with one person and attack family members in the house if improperly trained. Emotionally, they could have problems if there is a separation between them and a mate. On the other hand, a trained and well-adjusted one becomes devoted, cuddly, and sweet to their owner. One behavioral problem about them is screaming when needs are not addressed. With all your effort and patience, these birds will reward you with their love and adorable actions.

Availability: Where to Get One?

It is recommended that you adopt one. Find for local rescue group center in your hometown or go to the nearest pet shops near you.

FAQ Section

Can Moluccan cockatoos talk?

Unlike other birds, they can just mimic a few words and simple phrases.

Are Moluccan cockatoos good pets?

Surely. They are affectionate to their owners. Strong bonds are established. They get so clingy and just want attention from their owners.

How long do Moluccan cockatoos live?

They can live for over 60 years when given the right care and maintenance.

Which cockatoo talks the best?

Long-billed cockatoo, rose-breasted, and the yellow-crested are better in talking. They need a special type of care.

Are cockatoos aggressive?

Yes, they are. They get aggressive by biting or lunging family members.

Why do Moluccan cockatoos scream?

They scream out of frustration or being bored. This behavior must be fixed by the owner.

Why do cockatoos puff up?

Puffing up indicates resting, calming, or being sick.

Are cockatoos good for beginners?

Honestly, cockatoos are not for first-time pet owners or beginners due to this bird’s behavior. An owner must be experienced to handle and raise this bird.

What does a Moluccan cockatoo eat?

Cockatoos are fed on nuts, berries, fruits, seeds, roots, vegetables, and more. They can eat larva and insects too.

Are cockatoos high maintenance?

Physically and emotionally, they need high maintenance. They require attention from the owner.

Are cockatoos loud at night?

Yes, they are. Therefore, housing them in an apartment may not be a good idea to do. Their calls and screams are loud.

How do I stop my cockatoo from screaming?

Train and teach your bird. Ignore it when it screams. When it stops, interact, and give her some treats.

Can a cockatoo eat cheese?

Dairy products are not processed. They can process lactose products.

Do cockatoos sleep at night?

Sure. They sleep between 10 to 12 hours.

Do cockatoos have feelings?

Yes, they do. If their needs are not met emotionally. They scream and pluck themselves.

Do cockatoos mate for life?

Yes, they do. Thus, they feel very sad when their mate dies.

Do cockatoos do better in pairs?

Generally, they are kept in pairs. These birds are sociable ones. They don’t want being left alone.

Can cockatoos eat peanut butter?

For your bird’s safety, don’t give jelly products or peanut butter.

Do cockatoos love their owners?

Yes, they do. They are cuddly and affectionate towards their owners.

Why is my parrot screaming?

Your cockatoo screams to get attention due to boredom, injury, illness, or lack of exercise or just a way to express joy. Leaving them alone for a long time would make them scream too.

What is the best food for a cockatoo?

The best food is a balanced diet having fruits, veggies, nuts, and pellets.

What foods are bad for cockatoos?

Don’t give the following food to your cockatoos: peanuts, apple seeds, foods high in fat, sodium and sugar, chocolate, avocado, garlic, onion, and more.

How often should you bathe a cockatoo?

Giving a bath should be at least once a week.

Do cockatoos sleep standing?

Yes, they do, but not most of the time.

Why is my cockatoo attacking?

It could be due to improper socialization, stress, or fear.

Why do cockatoos bob their heads?

The chicks do this to ask for food. For adults, it is an indication of excitement.

Why do cockatoos live so long?

They live long because of their body temperature, metabolic rate, and high resting glucose. They are said to have special mechanisms as protection from aging.

Why do cockatoos shake?

They shake when they suffer from changes in temperature from air-con or when they feel cold after bathing.

Do cockatoos bond with one person?

Yes, most of the time. they time with one person in the family.

Do cockatoos cuddle?

Yes, they do. They are very cuddly and affectionate.

Can you wash a cockatoo?

Yes, you can. They love bathing. Use warm water. Let it move around the shower.

Why do cockatoos get angry?

They get angry when talking about territory. The males are the ones who get angry usually.

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