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Introducing a new bird

Expert Question

Dear EB, I have a 3 year old rose breasted cockatoo and I have been thinking about getting him a companion. What is the best way to introduce a new bird to him? Is it better for the new bird to be younger? Is he more likely to get along with another rose breasted cockatoo or will another bird his size be alright?
Thanks Jade

Expert Answer

Dear Jade, That is a very difficult question to answer, especially from afar. As rose-breasted cockatoos can be quite aggressive to mates or perceived mates in a captivity situation, it follows that you must proceed very carefully.

First analyse whether your pet in fact WANTS another bird in the house or a companion.  Many parrots are so attached to their owners that they resent a newcomer.

To choose another rose-breasted cockatoo would be a challenge. Again, dominance and jealousy and abuse can enter the scene and make matters problematic if not outright dangerous.

Under no circumstances would I choose a young female rose-breasted as your male will know it is a hen right away, and will try to get sexual with it long before she is ever ready to accept him as a partner.  This means he will more than likely get aggressive and put fear into her at some point—leading to little chance she will be his preen partner for many many months if at all.

You could try another cockatoo species such as Goffin’s, even try a male bird in hopes that the two would become buddies without copulation or breeding needs being a serious issue. But the challenge here would be to find a trial basis for a companion before purchase (perhaps an understanding adoption agency) since if you purchase on speculation and the two birds do not get along, you will not be stuck with a second dilemma.

I have know lorikeets to befriend rose-breasteds, also amazons and greys have been know to befriend these pink cockatoos—Rosies by and large are touchy feely psittacines and take well to any affectionate bird as long as they are not jealous of you or intimidated by being pushed too quickly towards acceptance.

If you do decide on a parrot from another geographical continent—amazon or grey, then it would normally be okay to get a baby bird, either gender, and allow the two to interact slowly and gradually—sexual issues are usually minimal between parrot friends of totally unrelated genera.

Good luck, and keep the list posted.
You did not give your cockatoo’s name!

Aloha, EB

EB Cravens
About EB Cravens

“If we TRULY believe our captive-raised hookbills are important to world parrot conservation, we must work ceaselessly to ensure that these same psittacines retain as much of their wild instinctual behavior as is possible,” affirms avicultural writer and hobby breeder EB Cravens, from his small organic farm on the slopes of the Big Island Hawaii.

“Our goal is to birth and raise only a few baby parrots who know that they are parrots, but choose to befriend humans, because humans are nice to them… feed them… and are fun to be with!”

EB has bred, trained, raised, kept and rehabilitated more than 75 species of psittacines during the past twenty plus years both at his home and while managing the notable exotic bird shoppe, Feathered Friends of Santa Fe, New Mexico. His emphasis on natural environments for birds, the urging of babies to fully fledge during the extended weaning process, and the leaving of chicks for many weeks inside the nest box with their parents in order that they may learn the many intangibles of their species, have succeeded in changing for the better the lives of so many captive parrots.

A science writer by training, he was for years a regular contributor for AFA’s Watchbird Magazine and the Companion Parrot Quarterly. EB currently writes a monthly column entitled “The Complete Psittacine” in PARROTS Magazine out of England; and another, “The Hookbill Hobbyist” down under in the well-regarded Australian Birdkeeper. His monthly series of articles “Birdkeeping Naturally,” is sent out to bird clubs and individuals around the U.S.

“As devastating pressures continue upon avian species in the wilds,” he says, “it is critical that those keeping birds in captivity do so with responsibility and foresight.”