What makes a Black Cockatoo a Great Pet?

At Emerald Aviaries we have as one of our own special family members MIMI a Red Tailed Black Cockatoo. Although we do not breed or hand raise these special birds ourselves, we would like to share with you some of our knowledge and show you some special highlights of living with MIMI..

  • Extremely Gentle and Affectionate
  • Highly Intelligent
  • Loves to Play Games
  • Substantial size

GENTLE and AFFECTIONATE – Black Cockatoos are well known as affectionate and gentle birds. Whilst Mimi’s beak is large and powerful she will readily preen the very small feathers of a baby parrot that may be sitting in our laps and appear to display genuine affection towards the baby parrot of another species. In relation to her human family, Mimi is very attached and has her own special favourites in the family. She loves nothing better at night than to play and then snuggle up for a long cuddle in front of TV. She will nudge your hand if you are not scratching her the right way.

LOVES TO PLAY GAMES – Mimi loves nothing better than to play games and interact with her human family. She loves the game of hide and seek and readily seeks out partners to play with her.  Black Cockatoos are highly intelligent and whilst they may not “talk” or mimic like their White cousins, they certainly show intelligence and understanding of what you are saying and attempting to get them to do.

Black Cockatoo Eating
Black Cockatoo Feathers

Personality and BEHAVIOUR

Here at Emerald Aviaries we purchased our Red Tail Black Cockatoo from some excellent Black Cockatoo Breeders who were personal friends of ours some 4 years ago when she was only around 4 weeks of age.  We then hand raised her ourselves. This was not without difficulty though, however we had a lot of hand raising experience under our belts and experts in black cockatoos that we could turn to for advice. Emerald Aviaries would always recommend that you should only purchase a baby bird once it is fully weaned and healthy.. Saves a lot of heartache in the long run.

During the day Mimi has a large outdoor aviary in which she can fly around and stretch her wings. This outdoor aviary is always filled with cut off branches of Australian Native Plants which she can chew and wreck.

Cockatoos are great chewers and we therefore we regularly have to replace all her perches.  Every time there is a storm in the area we go and collect large branches and use them for more perches for he. All her toys are from the natural environment and her favourite ones are ones that she can destroy.

When pine cones are in season she loves both the green unopened pines cones which enable her to eat the very small seed inside and the dryer opened pine cones that she can “cocky craft” – chew up.

After Mimi has spent the day in her large flight aviary she loves to come up inside to watch TV and play games with us. We transport Mimi between her outside aviary and the house in a large box which we call “The Bus”… We say, “Get in the bus Mimi, get in the bus” and she will step from her perch into the “bus” ready to go up and into the house for the night. Her level of understanding of our requests is remarkable.

Here are some photographs of Mimi when she was a baby, all soft and fluffy. She showed her wonderful ability to befriend everyoone very early on. Now that she is 4 years old (2019) she is very particular who she wishes to trust and who she wishes to play with. 

One of her favourite games at night time when she comes into the house, is to play hide and seek with a quilt being thrown over her head. She also likes to be carried high up near the ceiling to catch small bugs.

Mimi has a great understanding of various tasks that we request of her. If Mimi is sitting on our chest watching TV and we want to get up, we simply say “Back on your Perch” and she immediately does. We can say “Do you want a Peanut Butter Sandwich?” and she immediately goes to the highest section of her perch. In our experience, whilst she may not “talk” she certainly understands much of what we request her to do. She learnt this without us having to show her or reward her. Her intelligence is truely amazing.

DIETARY

Black cockatoos have a much higher fat requirement than many other birds. A diet with a reasonably high seed content is required. Therefore at the same time as feeding your black cockatoo a nutrient rich diet of fruit and vegetables, berries, banksia cones, acacia nuts, you will also need to feed a variety of seeds and nuts.

Favoured seeds are of course the grey striped sunflower seed, but also a range of nuts that can be cracked open and consumed, like almonds, cashews, walnuts. Just experiment until you find which ones your black cockatoo prefers. The key is to always provide variety.

The Photograph here shows some unopened banksia cones and a bowl featuring grey striped sunflower seeds and some vegetables.

Banksia cones
Black Cockatoo Food