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Behavior Problems in the Moluccan Cockatoo

By: Dr. Don Harris

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Moluccan cockatoos are undoubtedly God's gift to the maternal. No bird establishes the kind of bond with his owner that the Moluccan does, and therein lies both this bird's attractiveness – and his problems.

To encounter a Moluccan is to be enchanted, and many an individual has entered an avian nursery for a casual visit only to leave with a young feathered dependent that they couldn't possibly walk away from.

While the birds' speaking ability is limited, their beauty – a pale peach body accented by a salmon-colored crest – and their ability to interact with their owners makes them one of the most popular of all pet birds.

Moluccans Are Affectionate

Initially, Moluccan cockatoos are one of the most affectionate of all pets, avian or otherwise. They'll cuddle, snuggle, and do just about anything they can to be close to their owners. A well-trained Moluccan makes as good a pet as any.

Eventually however, their requests for attention turn into demands; when those aren't met immediately, the birds often begin screaming – literally – for attention. Screams may progress to tantrums manifested by self-destructive behavior that ranges from feather plucking to self-mutilation of the pectoral muscles, legs, chest, tail or just about any other part of the body the bird can manage to destroy.

Sometimes, an unsatisfied Moluccan may take his frustrations out on his owner, with random episodes of jabbing, biting or hysterical screaming. While this kind of behavior might suggest a bird's inability to adapt, in fact, it's often the result of this very intelligent creature's ability to manipulate his owner into an impossible role.

How to Deal With the Moluccan

In dealing with the bird, the trick to is to stay calm; showing frustration will only make him worse. Instead, treat the bird like a highly intelligent child who requires clear training and discipline. After, all, what bright human child wouldn't turn into a demanding terror if granted absolutely every wish and waited on hand and foot?

Whatever you do, don't make the bird the center of your existence. Instead, work him into your schedule. Develop a strict routine, where the bird gets only limited attention. A baby's scheduled dietary needs must be met, but beyond that the bird must be taught to accept periods of solitude and individual play. Toys and playpens can be used to create an environment in which the bird can entertain himself. If a young bird learns early on that "demands" don't elicit responses, the demands won't be as emphatic and, ultimately, the bird will also learn to take "no" for an answer.

What you will have then is a well-trained Moluccan – one of the best pets you could hope for.

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