Goffin's Cockatoo: Bird Species Profile

Temperament, Diet, and Care Tips

Goffin's Cockatoos
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A Goffin's cockatoo is the perfect companion parrot if you have the spare time to devote to it. This species is generally friendly, entertaining, outgoing, and extremely intelligent. These pretty white birds pack the best things about cockatoos into a smaller, easier-to-care-for package. Goffin's offer the same temperament as their larger cockatoo cousins but in a more compact size. And, like larger cockatoos, they require several hours of mental stimulation and physical interaction.

Species Overview

Common Names: Goffin's cockatoo, Tanimbar corella

Scientific Name: Cacatua goffini

Adult Size: One of the smallest cockatoo species, between 12 and 13 inches long, about the same size as a cockatiel

Life Expectancy: 30 to 40 years with proper care

Origin and History

The natural habitat for the Goffin's cockatoo is the Tanimbar Islands of Indonesia. Their habitat includes the tropical forests of Larat, Selaru, and Yamdena in the Maluku province. They can be found in New Guinea as well.

A loss of habitat and trapping for the pet trade has left this species threatened in the wild; they are a protected species. To keep one as a pet, you need a permit from the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). The permit certifies that the bird was captive-bred and not an illegally trapped wild animal.


Goffin's cockatoos have a reputation for being very social and affectionate. They are playful, curious, and active birds. They may be one of the smaller cockatoos, but they have a big bird personality and are quite fun-loving and gregarious.

These birds are brilliant, which leads them to mischievous, menacing behaviors. After watching you a few times, they can learn how to open the latch on their cage. You can expect to have a crafty escape artist on your hands.

A scientific study put Goffin's to the test and found them to have extraordinary problem-solving skills when it came to mechanics. Ten birds were tested on various interlocking devices, and most figured out the puzzles after just one failed attempt. Some required a demonstration from humans, while another bird figured it out on its own.

Speech and Vocalizations

Compared to many parrots, the Goffin's are relatively quiet. However, they will still scream when they want your attention. These birds are not the best talkers, but with enough training, you can teach them to say a few words. They tend to mimic sounds they hear. If you want to be entertained, turn on the music; they love to dance.

Goffin's Cockatoo Colors and Markings

The Goffin's cockatoo is often confused with the bare-eyed cockatoo. It is mostly white with touches of light salmon or pink on either side of their beaks. The salmon color also appears close to the head when the bird fans out his crest. Under the wings, you might notice a pale yellow on the feathers, making their flight a beautiful sight.

The birds have a pale gray beak and feet. The only noticeable difference between the sexes is in the eyes. The iris of a male will be black, while a female has brown eyes.

Caring for a Goffin's Cockatoo

Loving and affectionate, Goffin's cockatoos bond strongly with their owners and require daily interaction to maintain their mental and emotional health. They are best suited to experienced bird owners.

It's essential to set your boundaries early in the relationship with a new bird. You'll want to find a balance between too much and not enough attention. This balance of your time will help ensure the bird is well socialized but can also handle some time alone when you're gone.

The fact that they don't require as much space makes the Goffin's cockatoo a popular pet with those who don't have room to house a larger cockatoo species. The minimum cage size is still big: 5 feet tall by 24 inches deep by 36 inches wide. This species likes to chew and can destroy a cage, so make sure that the one you choose is tough (preferably wrought iron).

Common Health Problems

Neglected Goffin's cockatoos will not thrive. They will resort to destructive behaviors like feather plucking or skin picking if they do not get the interaction they need. Birds that self-mutilate can easily contract bacterial, viral, and fungal infections.

Other diseases that are common in cockatoos include psittacine beak and feather disease (a virus), as well as fatty liver disease and obesity. Weight-related conditions can occur if the bird eats a diet high in fat and does not get enough exercise.

Diet and Nutrition

In the wild, this bird eats seeds, fruits, nuts, berries, blossoms, roots, leaf buds, and an occasional insect. With the disappearance of their natural habitat, they have learned to forage from farmer's grain crops.

In captivity, all cockatoos, including Goffin's, are prone to excessive weight gain. Owners need to monitor fat intake. A high-quality, formulated pellet should make up 75 percent of their nutrition. A wide variety of healthy, raw vegetables, grains, greens, fruits, and, occasionally, nuts are supplemental (25 percent).

Feed approximately 3/4 cup of formulated diet and 1/4 cup of fresh fruits and vegetables daily. If the bird consumes all of its food, add small amounts as desired. For a treat, consider offering sprouted seeds as a healthy alternative to dried seeds; dried seeds are high in fat.


Goffin's cockatoos are active birds that need plenty of activity to stay healthy. Owners should give their birds a minimum of three to four supervised hours outside of the cage each day to play and stretch their muscles. Out-of-cage time also gives these birds a sense of independence.

Time outside the cage is ideal for training. Be consistent, so your bird remains tame and well adjusted to life in your home. Get a play stand for out-of-cage time; it is a perfect accessory for this. Birds will use it like a personal gymnasium, where they can play with toys, climb up and down, grab treats, and eat snacks. The toys and treats will keep your bird occupied and stimulated. 

Get interactive toys to ensure that your birds get the exercise they need to stay in good physical and mental condition. Give your bird puzzles like knots to untie and things they can take apart. Chew toys allow these birds to use their natural inclination to bite on something. Tap into their foraging instinct by hiding toys or treats for the bird to find.

  • Social, friendly, not as loud as other cockatoos

  • Can dance and learn to say a few words

  • Smaller cockatoo, does not need a cage as large as the bigger species

  • Can get loud and scream when it wants attention

  • Requires at least 3 to 4 hours of supervised out-of-cage time

  • So smart, it can escape its cage

Where to Adopt or Buy a Goffin's Cockatoo

Before you bring a Goffin's cockatoo home, contact local breeders and see if you can spend some time with them and their birds. Experienced keepers can help you decide if these birds are the right bird for you. Learn as much as you can about the bird's history. You can expect to pay $1,000 to $3,000 for a Goffin's cockatoo.

Use caution if you adopt a Goffin's cockatoo from a rescue; many rescue birds were neglected and their self-destructive behaviors can take a lot of hard work to recover from.

Some online sources where you can find Goffin's cockatoos include:

More Pet Bird Species and Further Research

If you are interested in a similar species, look at:

Otherwise, check out all of our other large bird species profiles.