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Moluccan Cockatoo

Batul Nafisa Baxamusa
Keeping the Moluccan cockatoo as a pet is a matter of lifetime commitment, and therefore, you need to take into consideration certain facts about the species before you go ahead.
The Moluccan cockatoo (Cacatua moluccensis) is a cockatoo species endemic to the Maluku Islands or the Moluccas of Indonesia.
Even though it's enlisted as a vulnerable species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, its inclusion in the appendix 1 of CITES―the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora―makes their trade illegal, and therefore, you need to ensure that the one you keep as pet is a captive-bred cockatoo.
You also need to understand that keeping a Moluccan cockatoo as a pet is a lifelong commitment.

Facts to Know

Also called the Salmon-crested cockatoo, the Moluccan cockatoo is no ordinary species. It is very intelligent, and is known to manipulate its owners. It has the ability to develop an extensive vocabulary, sing songs, mimic voices, etc. At 50 cm, the species is one of the largest cockatoo species in the world. It has a lifespan of 40 years.


These cockatoos have pinkish-white feathers, which give out a peachy glow and make them look very attractive. In addition, they have a slight yellowish tinge on their underside. These birds have a large, retractable and recumbent crest, which they raise when threatened or when they are emotionally excited. The crest is bright red-orange color and is used to ward off predators.


The species needs a really large cage and therefore, make sure you get the largest you can afford. The cage should be placed off the floor and away from drafts. The bird can do well in average temperatures.
The cage should have metal bars that are about 1-inch apart. Ideally, the perches should be about 9-inches long and have a thickness of about an inch.
You need to make sure the cage has a secure lock as these birds are known to pick locks. In fact, it's better to ensure that they cannot reach the lock in the first place. You will have to let them out of the cage for playing and training. So, you need to clip their wings to prevent them from flying off.

Diet and Feeding

In wild, Moluccan cockatoo species feeds on seeds, nuts, fruits, and coconuts. They even eat insects to include proteins in their diet. In captivity, you can feed them fresh fruits and vegetables daily. You can even feed them specialized pellets diet and fortified seeds.
Fruits like grapes, pineapple, corn, etc., can also be fed. Do not feed your bird chocolates, alcohol, avocados, fruit seeds, etc., under any circumstances. Do provide it with fresh water at all times.


They are emotionally charged and need proper training. If you cannot control this bird, it may attack people. It tends to build a strong bond with humans, such that, if separated, it develops emotional problems. If you have the time and the determination to train this bird, it will become a really great pet and―more importantly―won't develop any behavioral problems.
Moluccan cockatoos tend to be really vocal and have the loudest call among parrots. Therefore, if you live in an apartment, this bird is not suitable. If you don't meet their demands, they will scream continuously. They need a lot of place for exploring and walking around.


The bird needs constant attention and care. You will have to give it plenty of toys and challenges, or else it will get bored. Many families bring home this bird without understanding its needs. If you are working and cannot devote enough time for the bird, you should drop the idea of keeping it as a pet.
It won't just throw tantrums, but will also become emotionally disturbed and may even go the extent of self mutilation. Most of these birds end up in an animal shelter, where their needs are not met. This causes them to develop severe behavioral problems. Once the bird begins to self mutilate, then euthanasia is the only way out.
If you have the space, time, money, and dedication, and you are sure that you will be able to keep it happy, then you can buy one from a reputed breeder in your area. A single bird will cost you anywhere between $400 to $1500. A pair, on the other hand, will cost you about $2,000. You can try your luck at an animal rescue center as well; the price there will be relatively low.