MAJOR MITCHELL COCKATOO
Origin: Semi-arid and arid parts of Australia
Size: 360mm including a 160mm tail
The male bird sports a white crown suffused with salmon pink. It has a narrow crest that is scarlet with a yellow centre band and white tips. The sides of the head, forehead, breast, nape, the upper belly and underwing coverts are salmon pink. Its lower belly, under tail coverts and upper parts including the tail are white.
The undersides of the flight and tail feathers are washed with deep salmon pink. Its eyes are dark brown, the beak is cream and the legs grey.
The female is similar looking to the male, but has pale red eyes and its central crest band is wider than the male. The immature chicks are similar to the adults but see the world through pale, brown eyes.
To keep these birds as pets, because they are a large bird, they need to be kept in a big cage or a roomy aviary that also needs to contain non-poisonous native plants growing that the birds can safely chew.
In the wild these noisy birds nest in hollow limbs of trees lined with wood dust and bark. When kept as pets, a large nesting box should be provided and lined with wood shavings or a hollow branch if possible.
Keeping the cage or aviary clean is a must and so too is providing fresh food and water.
Good quality small parrot mix, greens, fresh fruit and vegetables – do not feed avocados as these are poisonous to most birds – cuttlefish bone and grit.
In the wild these birds love to feast on seeds, nuts, fruits, roots, and they love Cyprus pine and acacia seeds.
Features: A distinguishing two syllable quavering cry and gives off several harsh, loud screeches when alarmed.
These birds usually breed from August to December with the female laying two to three eggs. The eggs are incubated for about 30 days with the male sitting on them during the day, and the female sitting on them at night.
The chicks are cared for by the parents for six weeks until they leave the nest, but they then stay with the parents to form a family group that can remain together for many years.
Major Mitchell Cockatoos are very wary birds, but if disturbed they rarely fly too far away from their territory. They are shy birds and not recommended for children, and both children and adults need to be very careful around the bird’s very powerful peak as it can easily slice through a finger and cause serious injury.
They can be very affectionate towards their owner, but if kept inside the home you will need to protect the furniture because they will soon destroy it if allowed.