Described by some as the perfect companion parrots, Goffin's cockatoos are friendly, entertaining, outgoing, and extremely intelligent. These pretty white birds pack the best things about cockatoos into a smaller, easier to care for package.
Not unlike mini-macaws, Goffin's have the same temperament as the larger birds. That means their need for stimulation and interaction are pretty high. For the right bird lover, they do make an excellent pet.
Common Names: Goffin's cockatoo, Tanimbar corella
Scientific Name: Cacatua goffini
Adult Size: One of the smallest cockatoo species, it is normally 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. They enjoy the tropical forests of Larat, Selaru, and Yamdena in the Maluku province and 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 and they are under protected status. For this reason, you will need a permit from the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) to keep one as a pet. This is used to prove that the bird was not an illegally trapped wild animal.
Goffin's cockatoos have a reputation for being very social and affectionate. They are playful, inquisitive, and active birds that require plenty of interaction and attention from their owners. They may be one of the smaller cockatoos but they have a big bird personality and are quite fun-loving and gregarious.
Compared to many parrots, the Goffin's is relatively quiet. They will scream, however, when they want your attention. These are not the best talkers, though they do vocalize, can learn a few words, and enjoy mimicking sounds they hear. If you really want to be entertained, turn on music because they love to dance.
These birds are extremely intelligent and many astound their owners in the most mischievous ways. They are known to learn how to open the latch on a cage, even after seeing it just a few times, so they can be crafty escape artists.
In fact, one 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 were able to figure out the puzzles after just one failed attempt. Some required a demonstration from humans or another bird while others got it on their own.
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. These birds simply cannot thrive if they are neglected, and will resort to destructive behaviors like feather plucking if their need for interaction is not met.
For this reason, you do need to use caution when adopting one from a bird rescue. It's good to learn about a bird's history because bad behaviors can take a lot of work to break.
Goffin's are recommended for experienced bird owners that have plenty of free time to spend with their feathered friends. It's important 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 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. However, a larger cage will make a happier bird, so don't go too small. This species likes to chew and has been known to destroy a cage as well, so make sure that the one you choose is tough.
Goffin's should also be provided time outside of the cage each day to give them a feeling of independence. A play stand is a perfect accessory for this. You can provide toys and treats on the stand to keep your bird occupied and stimulated.
Before you bring a Goffin's cockatoo home, contact local breeders and see if you can spend some time with them and their birds. Talking with someone who is experienced in keeping these birds will help you decide if they are indeed the right bird for you.
Feeding Goffin's Cockatoo
Like all cockatoos, Goffin's cockatoos are prone to weight gain, so owners should monitor their fat intake. A healthy diet will consist of high-quality pellets and daily helpings of fresh leafy greens, root vegetables, as well as fruit and some nuts.
A wide variety of healthy raw food is the way to go when feeding these wonderful birds. Learning to sprout is also a great way of getting much needed live, fresh, raw nutrition into them. The wider the variety of vegetables, grains, greens, and nuts you feed them, the better off they will be in regards to their health.
Goffin's cockatoos are active birds and need plenty of exercise in order to stay healthy. Owners should be prepared to give their birds a minimum of three to four supervised hours outside of the cage each day to play and stretch their muscles. Use this time as training and be consistent so your bird remains tame and well adjusted to life in your home.
Interactive toys are a good choice to ensure that these birds get the exercise they require to stay in good physical and mental condition. Give your bird puzzles like knots to untie and things they can take apart. Chew toys will also let them release the natural instinct to bite on things. You can play off their foraging instincts by hiding toys or treats for the bird to find as well.
More Pet Bird Species and Further Research
If you’re interested in similar species, check out:
Otherwise, check out all of our other cockatoo species profiles.
Auersperg AMI, Kacelnik A, von Bayern AMP. Explorative Learning and Functional Inferences on a Five-Step Means-Means-End Problem in Goffin’s Cockatoos (Cacatua goffini). PLOS One. 2013. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0068979