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Choosing a Ducorps' Cockatoo

By: Dr. Susan Clubb

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Ducorps' cockatoos, also known as the Solomon Islands cockatoo or Solomon's corella, are medium-sized cockatoos that range from 12 to 14 inches long. They closely resemble the Goffin's cockatoo but are completely white except for the underside of the flight feathers and tail, which are yellow; the crest, which has a pale pink coloration; and the eye rings, which are blue. They are not well known in aviculture and only became available in the early 1990s.

The birds (Cacatua ducorpsii) are abundant throughout the Solomon Islands in the south Pacific, from the coast to mountains, living in a variety of forest and woodland habitats. They also invade cultivated areas and damage crops. They are wary and shy by nature. Little is known about their pet potential.

Ducorps' cockatoos can probably live up to 50 years, judging by the life span of similar species. Little is known about their life history in captivity.

Captive birds breed relatively well, but long-term information is not available.

Ducorps' cockatoos should always be provided with toys, blocks of wood or branches that they can chew. Young cockatoos should be socialized to many people and exposed to a variety of situations, such as new cages, toys, visits to the veterinarian, handling by friends, wing and nail clips, etc. to avoid fear of novel situations. They need some space for flight.

Feeding

Cockatoos should be fed a formulated (pelleted or extruded) diet supplemented with fresh fruits and vegetables daily to add variety and psychological enrichment. Feed approximately 1/4 cup of formulated diet and 1/4 cup of fresh fruits and vegetables daily. Monitor food intake. Overfeeding leads to pickiness, selective feeding and wasteful food throwing. Vitamin supplements are not needed for birds eating a formulated diet.

Grooming

Routine bathing or showering is vital to maintaining good plumage and skin condition. Birds can be misted and allowed to dry in a warm room or in the sun, or they can be gently dried with a blow dryer. Care should be taken not to clip the wing feathers excessively as cockatoos often fall and injure themselves. Clip only the primary flight feathers and only enough so the bird will glide to the floor. Ducorps' are better flyers than Moluccans and umbrellas and a few more feathers should be clipped.

Housing

Ducorps' cockatoos are very active and should be provided the largest cage that space and budget allows – one that allows room for flight. Durable cage construction is not critical as Ducorps' are not such strong chewers. Many are adept at opening cage latches, so locks or escape-proof latches may be necessary. The birds should also be supplied with a retreat to guard against insecurity and fear responses. Ideally, the bird should have an outdoor cage as well to allow playtime in the fresh-air and sunlight.

Breeding

Initial results indicate that Ducorps' cockatoos will breed relatively well in captivity. In North America, they breed predominantly in the winter and spring. Clutch size is typically two to three eggs.

The breeding cage should be at least 6 feet by 4 feet by 4 feet suspended 4 feet above the ground or floor.

Double-entrance nest boxes are often used to reduce the chance of the male trapping the female in the box. Grandfather-style wooden boxes can be used. Size should be approximately 12 inches by 12 inches by 24 inches or deeper.

Incubation period is approximately 24 to 26 days. Chicks will usually fledge at approximately 10 to 12 weeks of age. Ducorps' cockatoos are relatively easy to hand-rear. Most hand-rearing formulas can be used successfully.

Male cockatoos frequently become aggressive toward their mates. Cage construction and management should take into consideration techniques to reduce mate aggression. Clipping the wings of the male prior to the breeding season will help the female to escape in case the male becomes aggressive. Aggressive behavior may occur in compatible breeding pairs.

Ducorps' cockatoos are not as noisy as the larger cockatoos, however when breeding cockatoos, noise and proximity to neighbors must be considered. If housed outdoors cockatoos often call at night especially during a full moon. In southern states outdoor caging must be protected from opossums to prevent exposure to the parasite Sarcocystis falcatula, which can result in a fatal lung infection.

Common Diseases and Disorders

The Ducorps' cockatoo is a relatively healthy bird but is susceptible to the following:

  • Psittacine beak and feather disease
  • Feather-picking
  • Fearful behavior
  • Mate aggression
  • Fear-related neurosis
  • Poor eating habits
  • Bacterial and fungal infections
  • Sarcocystis
  • Toxicity, ingestion of metals

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