The bare-eyed cockatoo is a smaller cockatoo that is a somewhat easier pet to keep than its larger cousins. The ring of blue around its eyes gives this bird a slightly sleepy look, but it is quite active and social and prefers to be out of its cage interacting with its owner. The bare-eyed cockatoo may not be the most colorful parrot in the world, but this bird makes up for its monotone look with a dynamic personality. Sweet, playful, and intelligent, bare-eyed cockatoos are one of the best talking cockatoos.
Common Name: Bare-eyed cockatoo, little corella cockatoo, blue-eyed cockatoo
Scientific Name: Cacatua sanguineat; in the wild, four subspecies have been identified: C. s. sanguinea, C. s. normantoni, C. s. transfreta, and C. s. gymnopis
Adult Size: 14 and 16 inches
Life Expectancy: 50 years
Origin and History
This white cockatoo is native to Australia and southern New Guinea. The bird was first described and cataloged by English ornithologist John Gold in 1843.
In the wild, their preferred habitat ranges from arid deserts to coastal plains; these birds rarely live in thick forests. You can also find bare-eyed cockatoos in urban areas and agricultural zones. They are so prevalent that they create a nuisance.
With a reputation for being goofy and clownish, the bare-eyed cockatoo usually is a very social bird that loves to play and interact with its owners.
Intelligent and friendly, bare-eyed cockatoos make excellent pets for experienced bird owners who would like a cockatoo but don't have the space to keep one of the larger species. These birds can learn to perform tricks and love to hang upside down.
In general, cockatoos are among the more difficult birds to keep, due to its reputation as a "velcro bird" (sticking to their owners). However, many owners love this endearing quality; it's a wonderfully affectionate bird that will even cuddle with you.
Speech and Vocalizations
Among the cockatoos, this species is the best at mimicking human speech. It is common for a bare-eyed cockatoo to spontaneously mimic the vocal patterns of every member of the family. While cockatoos are known for being one of the loudest of the parrots, these little corellas are slightly less talkative in comparison.
Bare-Eyed Cockatoo Colors and Markings
Bare-eyed cockatoos are primarily all white with touches of salmon-pink on their faces. They have horn-colored beaks and bare, gray-blue patches around their eyes.
Males and females are identical, though males are slightly larger in stature and also have somewhat larger eye patches. To be sure of the sex, genetic or surgical sexing is required.
Caring for a Bare-Eyed Cockatoo
Although the bare-eyed cockatoo is a little less demanding than larger cockatoos, this is still a bird that is best suited for an owner who wants a constant companion. These birds crave social interaction with their owners and can resort to destructive behaviors if they feel neglected. You will need to devote at least 3 hours a day to your bird.
As with all birds, get the largest cage possible. It will need a medium or large-sized enclosure that is at least 2-feet wide, 3-feet long, and 4-feet tall. Even if you give it an enormous cage, your cockatoo will need plenty of time outside the enclosure for play, exercise, and attention from you. You serve as this bird's flock, and your bare-eyed cockatoo will insist on interacting with you.
All cockatoos emit a powder down used for preening, which helps maintain their overall feather and skin health. People who have allergies or are sensitive to dust or animal dander may not be well-suited for life with a cockatoo.
The bare-eyed cockatoo benefits from weekly baths to keep its skin healthy and plumage shiny. Carefully dry the bird in a warm room after bathing it.
If you clip its wings, do so only on the primary feathers so it can easily fly and glide around the house. This bird prefers to be out and about rather than remaining confined to its cage.
Common Health Problems
Cockatoos are highly susceptible to psittacosis, a disease caused by the bacteria Chlamydia psitttaci. Symptoms include lethargy, discharge from the eyes, and respiratory problems. Your bird will require antibiotics if it contracts psittacosis.
Nutritional deficiencies are also common with cockatoos and are preventable with vitamin supplements or sufficient fruits, vegetables, and a high-quality pellet diet. Cockatoos are prone to weight gain, so they should be fed a diet low in fat; otherwise, they are at a higher risk of developing fatty liver disease.
The most common problems with cockatoos are general malaise and behavior problems that occur when birds do not receive enough attention and interaction with owners. Unwanted behaviors like feather pulling or constant screaming are clear signs your bird needs more attention.
Diet and Nutrition
In the wild, blue-eyed cockatoos are mostly ground feeders but sometimes eat in the trees and shrubbery. They like seeds, insects, fruits, and nectar.
A high-quality formulated pellet mix should make up at least 50 percent of your cockatoo's diet. Also, offer your bare-eyed cockatoo a fresh vegetable mix that includes leafy greens, root vegetables, and fresh fruit. You can give nuts like almonds and walnuts as training treats; but, nuts are high in fat, so offer them sparingly.
Start by offering your bird 1/4 cup of pellets and 1/4 cup of fruits and vegetables daily. Increase the amount as needed. Never feed chocolate or avocado; these foods are toxic to birds. Of course, fresh drinking water should be available at all times.
Bare-eyed cockatoos, like all cockatoos, need plenty of exercise. Give this bird a minimum of 3 to 4 hours of supervised playtime outside of the cage each day which should include social interaction with you.
Provide toys to encourage independent play. With plenty of toys and an exciting play gym, it can manage its own activity time. Wooden toys, as well as those made of leather and sturdy hemp twine or plastic rope, will give the bird an outlet for using its substantial reserves of energy. Ladders and swings will also help to engage your cockatoo and provide it with needed exercise mentally.
You will need to supervise its outside-of-cage time. This bird's curious nature may lead to chewing on electric wires or other parts of your house that may appear interesting but are hazardous.
Social, affectionate, and even, cuddly
One of the best speaking cockatoos
Can learn to do tricks
Can be noisy, not well-suited for apartments
Requires at least 3 to 4 hours of supervised out-of-cage time
Emits a powdery down that can aggravate allergies
Where to Adopt or Buy the Bare-Eyed Cockatoo
You can purchase a bare-eyed cockatoo from a reputable breeder or adoption group. Before deciding on a bare-eyed cockatoo, contact breeders to see if you can spend some time with them and their birds. Getting to know someone that has experience raising these unique birds will help you decide if they are right for you. These birds cost about $1,000 to $2,000.
Some online sources where you can find bare-eyed cockatoos include:
- Birds Now
- Birds of Paradise
- Rescue the Birds
Make sure that the bird you want to take home is alert, active, and exhibits all the signs of a healthy bird, such as bright eyes, clean feathers, and full crops.
More Pet Bird Species and Further Research
Other similar pet bird species you might want to consider include:
- Cockatiel Species Profile
- Umbrella Cockatoos Species Profile
- Sulphur-Crested Cockatoos Species Profile
Otherwise, take a look at more species in the cockatoo family.