Cockatoos make for amazing pets.
They are very friendly with a wonderful sense of humor.
They especially love to be around people and form close bonds with their human companions
Because of this close bond, many owners wonder if their cockatoo would do better living in a pair or on its own.
This is a big decision for any bird owner, especially for the highly social and loving cockatoo.
After all, we want our birds to be at their happiest and healthiest.
Let’s take a look at all the elements we need to consider.
Should cockatoos be kept in pairs?
Yes, in general cockatoos are best kept in pairs. However, it depends on the attention that you can give them and if you want to commit to caring for two birds instead of one. Cockatoos are highly social and keeping them in a pair helps to ensure that they stay happy and stimulated.
On the other hand, it’s worth keeping in mind that keeping cockatoos as pairs will mean that they will bond closest with one another, not with you.
This could be a negative for some owners looking for a closer relationship.
In addition, cockatoos are large and noisy birds.
Adding a second bird to the home will always increase the activity level.
A second bird will have other care requirements, including more physical space.
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Can cockatoos live alone?
Many owners are wondering if their bird can and will be happy and fulfilled living on its own.
Yes, cockatoos can be kept on their own. However, they will need a lot of attention and they form very close bonds.
This need for companionship is why many experts recommend keeping cockatoos in pairs.
A human often simply cannot provide enough stimulation to keep the bird healthy.
In the wild cockatoos live in flocks of 8-10 birds, relatively small compared to other wild birds.
This small flock size influences how closely they bond with other birds.
In the wild they get a lot of attention from their peers, and this need is just as true for domestic cockatoos.
Without lots of stimulation and activity a cockatoo can become bored, leading to poor habits and destructive behavior.
This can also lead to anxiety and unhealthy habits like feather picking.
How to keep a single cockatoo
If you do decide to keep a single cockatoo instead of a pair, then there are some care guidelines that you should keep in mind.
Without another bird you will become their flock.
This is a big responsibility.
Expect to spend a good amount of time each day playing with them and working with your bird.
They are very affectionate and intelligent, so time spent training and simply socializing will pay off with a close bond.
You can also help increase their daily activity levels by providing them with more space and lots of toys.
A larger cage or a full aviary will encourage them to exercise and provide more entertainment.
Give your bird lots of toys to keep them entertained and rotate them frequently.
While an engaging environment is certainly beneficial it cannot make up for time spent with your bird.
If you will be gone for long hours at work or on frequent trips, then consider how this could impact your bird.
If you don’t feel you can provide the attention required, it’s time to reconsider getting a pair of birds.
How do I keep a pair of cockatoos?
If you decide to keep a pair of cockatoos then you must make sure that the environment is safe for both birds.
While keeping two birds can help both to socialize enough, it also requires being aware of the match and how the birds are getting along.
It is ideal to keep cockatoos together that have been raised together.
In this case you know that they will get along and that they are bonded.
It is also important to keep gender in mind.
A male and female will almost always get along better than a pair of the same gender.
Of course, a mated pair could also lead to baby cockatoos!
This could be an added responsibility that you are not looking for.
If you are introducing two parrots that have not lived together before do so very slowly.
Begin by keeping them in the same room but separate cages and slowly allowing them to interact in common areas.
Watch for territorial behavior and aggression.
The process must be slow enough that neither feels threatened.
However, even the most responsible owner cannot force an incompatible pair to bond.
If your birds are not getting along safely then you may need to keep them in separate cages.
Keep in mind that if you get a pair of cockatoos that you are signing up for twice the noise!
They love to play by screaming and chattering together.
While a single parrot will also be noisy, it is definitely a factor to consider when getting a pair.
Can cockatoos live with other species of parrot?
While some parrot owners have had success with introducing their cockatoo to other parrots, keep in mind that it is always a risk.
Parrots of different sizes or vastly different personalities should never be put together.
Cockatoos have a strong personality, so it is likely that they would be aggressive towards parrots of another species.
Always watch for aggression if they are mixing, either in common spaces or with the intention of keeping them together.
Also consider individual personality.
While in general cockatoos are a more aggressive breed, this does not mean every bird will have this temperament.
If you do decide to try mixing species, keep both size and personality in mind, and always do so in a very controlled environment.
Lastly, it is worth noting that cockatoo aggression is not limited to other birds.
Other pets, like your dog or cat, may also not mix well with your bird.
A defensive or scared bird could lash out and the pets could injure each other.
It is best not to mix them.
At the end of the day, the decision to keep one or two birds is very individual.
Either way, if you maintain your cockatoos social and emotional needs then you are sure to have a happy and healthy friend for life.