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The Life Cycle of Cockatoos

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Cockatoos are parrots that belong to the family Cacatuidae and the genus Cacatua. Twenty-one species of cockatoos exist; more than one species may even exist together in a single flock. Wild cockatoos are native to Australia, Indonesia, New Guinea, the Philippines and Solomon Islands. They inhabit rain forests, pine forests, eucalyptus groves, scrublands and savannahs. Wild cockatoos eat berries, nuts, roots and seeds; pet cockatoos eat commercial pellets, fruits, vegetables and nuts in the shells.


Cockatoos mate once a year, between December and March. The male cockatoo puts on an elaborate show to attract a female. He opens his wings, spreads his tail, ruffles his feathers and raises his crest while bobbing, bouncing and dancing in front of the female. After the female accepts the male's advances, the pair will preen each other. Cockatoos are monogamous, mating for life.


After breeding, the cockatoo pair leaves their group to find a good nesting spot. They make their nest in a large tree hole, 16 to 100 feet above ground. The female lays two or three eggs, and both parents take turns sitting on them, turning them and keeping them moist during the incubation period. The eggs hatch in about 30 days.

Cockatoo Chicks

Cockatoo chicks are naked and blind when they emerge from the eggs. Their eyes will not open for several weeks. Both parents care for their babies, feeding them and keeping them warm. It takes 60 to 100 days for the chicks to become fully feathered, depending on the species. This is when the babies become curious, bravely exploring the world around them.

Leaving The Nest

The cockatoo chicks try out their flying abilities when they are about 4 months old. Mom and Dad will continue to feed and supervise them as they build strength in their wings and learn to forage for food. About a month after fledging, the young cockatoos are weaned and independent. Young cockatoos often stay with the flock they were born into. Cockatoos reach sexual maturity when they're about 3 to 4 years old.

Adult Cockatoos

The size of adult cockatoos varies from 12 to 26 inches tall, depending on the species. They are white, yellow, rose or dark gray colored and have a crest on top of their heads. They form large, noisy flocks in dense forests. Cockatoos use their feet like hands, feeding themselves with one foot. Their nimble tree climbing abilities enable them to reach fruits and nuts. Cockatoos live for an average of 40 to 60 years.