Baby cockatoos who have just been weaned after hand feeding are the sweetest and most beautiful pets you could ever imagine. The silky white feathers, the expressive crest with a splash of color, and the huge eyes appeal to most human hearts. Cockatoos are love sponges, sucking in as much attention as you can dish out. They want to be with their people, often with one special person, day in and day out.
Then the baby becomes a teenager. Tempers flare when he can’t be with his person all the time. Screaming and plucking often come with the change. This is the time where the bird will learn things it will carry for the rest of his life.
If the person who took in the baby can’t deal with the teenager, there’s a chance the parrot will be rehomed. Okay. An adjustment period will follow where the confused bird will try to be on his best behavior. We call this the “honeymoon” phase, and it lasts about three months. Then the cockatoo will start pushing. Wanting more attention. Hating the cage. Hating others in the home who might prevent the special person from being with him.
Can’t handle it? Well. Let’s rehome him. He’s still beautiful, he can be sold for a lot of money. Cage that he hates and all to the first interested person with the cash. No effort made to be sure this is a safe, stable home. No concern that this new person might not know what to expect from a Cockatoo.
I learned recently from E.B. Craven, an aviculturist in Hawaii, https://thegabrielfoundation.org/files/cravens/BNFeb09-GastroCockatooSyndrome.doc that provided lots of information on the species that I had never heard before. Cockatoos are not heavy eaters like Amazons, African Grays, or Macaws. They eat a little at a time and need to be kept busy doing things until they get hungry again. Foraging for food is vital to the mental health of these smart birds. A successful owner of a cockatoo would give the bird milk jugs with beads and treats in it, bolts and nuts for it to take apart, and an entire branch of a tree every day for the bird to strip. Yes, it’s messy. But the cockatoo had not social problems like screaming and plucking.
But of course, Owner Number Three of our subject didn’t know this and didn’t learn. This is actually a true story of a cockatoo named Babalu. He currently resides at the Chloe Sanctuary with other distressed and abandoned cockatoos. http://chloesanctuary.org/babalu/ As you can see in the video, Bab is beautiful and funny to watch. He’s eleven years old and has been rehomed 5 times. Just typing that makes my eyes tear up.
Cockatoos, as I said, are intelligent. Bab hasn’t missed the fact that no matter how much he loved his people, they never loved him back enough. Now he has a condition which causes his cloaca to swell when he tries to pass solid waste. The Chloe Sanctuary in a smaller operation, but the work they do is vital. They need donations so that Babalu’s condition can be diagnosed and treatment begin. They are a 501(c)3 nonprofit public charity.
Babalu isn’t the only cockatoo at the sanctuary which is in need of special medical care. Peaches http://chloesanctuary.org/peaches/ and Sugar http://chloesanctuary.org/sugar/ also need your help. People have told the sanctuary volunteers that saving Sugar wasn’t worth the effort. I can’t believe that is the truth and thankfully neither did Don Scott who runs the place.
Our uncertain economic future means that help for these precious beings is going to be hard to find. Please, send a dollar. Give the cost of tomorrow’s gourmet coffee. Make your lunches for a week and send the cost of buying them to the Chloe Sanctuary. These birds did not ask to be bred in captivity, to be bonded to humans, or to be abandoned and abused. Humans can make it better. Please do whatever you can do. Thank you! I’ll be back next Sunday.