Slender-billed cockatoos are often overlooked for other cockatoo species that have more substantial rising crests on their heads. However, their charming, endearing personalities and excellent talking ability make them one of the better cockatoo options. Also, they are not as loud as other parrots. They are a popular pet in their native Australia and are becoming better known in other parts of the world.
Common Names: Slender-billed cockatoo, long-billed cockatoo, slender-billed corella, long-billed corella
Scientific Name: Cacatua tenuirostris
Adult Size: 18 and 20 inches, weighing about 1.5 pounds
Life Expectancy: 50 years
Origin and History
The slender-billed cockatoo calls southeastern Australia home. They prefer woodlands and open fields and often travel in sizeable flocks estimated to be more than 1,000 birds.
During the mating season, pairs will go off to build a nest near water in eucalyptus trees or rocky cliffs. The couple mates for life. If one goes missing or dies, the other experiences great sadness.
Farmers in Australia consider slender-billed cockatoos a nuisance since these massive flocks can destroy a season's crops. Farmers have retaliated by poisoning some of these birds. Urban flocks are more prevalent near Perth and Sydney. This population growth stems from the release of unwanted pet birds.
Compared to other cockatoos, the slender-billed is a great pet bird. These intelligent birds are friendly and outgoing. Their antics will keep you entertained for hours.
While slender-bill cockatoos are incredibly affectionate and sensitive, they're also one of the more independent cockatoos. That does not mean they don't crave attention, they still do. However, these cockatoos are not as needy as other cockatoo species.
In the wild, they're used to being monogamous. Similarly, they are one-person birds. After forming a bond with you, it lasts forever.
Speech and Vocalizations
Of the cockatoos, this species is the best talker; it can learn complete, clear sentences and mimic words and whole sentences to near perfection. On the flip side, they are also considered a "quiet" parrot and do not scream as loudly or as often as most.
Slender-Billed Cockatoo Colors and Markings
The slender-billed cockatoo is a stocky bird with a somewhat comical appearance. Its grayish-white beak is very long and slender. Unlike many other cockatoos, this species does not have a prominent crest. It is very short, and, when not fanned out, you will hardly be able to see it. It is almost hard to tell that the bird is a cockatoo.
This bird's feathers are mostly white with a salmon-pink cast. It has patches of bright pink just above the beak and on the neck, giving its face both a mask and a collar. They also have a baby blue eye-ring. The feathers on its wings and short tail are white with pale yellow undersides that are most visible in flight. They have gray legs.
This bird is monomorphic, meaning that genetic or surgical sexing is the only way to tell males from females. If you look closely, however, you may notice that a mature female (at least 5 years old) has a brown iris while a male has a black iris.
Caring for Slender-Billed Cockatoos
Slender-billed cockatoos are affectionate pets. These birds crave interaction with their owners and require daily handling and socialization to maintain their emotional health.
Slender-billed cockatoos that feel neglected will sometimes resort to destructive behavior. For the bird's well-being, do not bring one home if you will not be able to spend at least three hours a day with it.
They are large birds and require a large cage. To keep a slender-billed cockatoo comfortable, the minimum cage size should be at least three-foot square, but larger is always better. You should also invest in a moveable parrot play stand that can follow you. These birds love to spend time near their owners. The stand keeps the bird busy while keeping the bird close to you.
Around the time that the bird reaches sexual maturity (around ages 3 to 5), male slender-billed cockatoos may go through an aggressive stage called bluffing, which is typical among parrots. Handle this temperamental period of biting, hissing, or insolence with a dose of patience and reinforce the training you have established. If you have young children, this parrot may not be the right choice if you have a slender-billed cockatoo that has not reached maturity yet.
Cockatoos naturally produce a powdery down that helps keep their feathers clean. This dust will coat the surfaces near the bird and can trigger allergies for those who are sensitive to dust or animal dander.
Common Health Problems
Cockatoos of all species are prone to most of the same health issues. Any pet bird that feels neglected or lacks exercise may start feather plucking and destructive chewing. To avoid these unwanted behaviors, provide your pet with plenty of toys and attention.
Like other parrots, slender-billed cockatoos are prone to obesity and fatty tumors if their diet does not include enough fresh vegetables and fruit. This species is also susceptible to psittacine beak and feather disease (PBFD), a viral condition.
Diet and Nutrition
In the wild, the slender-billed cockatoo uses its long, slender beak for digging up roots, seeds, and bulbs, especially from the weed onion grass.
Like all cockatoos, slender-billed cockatoos are prone to obesity, so owners should monitor their fat intake. Avoid feeding large quantities of high-fat seeds such as sunflower and safflower. Never feed birds avocados or chocolate; these foods are toxic to them.
A healthy diet should consist of high-quality pellets, a moderate amount of seed mix, and daily helpings of fresh bird-safe fruits and vegetables. To start, offer approximately 1/3 cup of formulated diet and 1/3 cup of fresh fruits and vegetables daily. If the bird consumes all of its food, incrementally add small amounts as desired. Do not overfeed.
Overfeeding can leads to selective eating and wasteful throwing of food. Adult and juvenile birds are picky eaters.
Slender-billed cockatoos need a minimum of three to four hours outside of the cage each day to stretch their muscles and play. This activity helps the bird maintains peak mental and physical health.
These cockatoos are naturally curious and like to chew on wooden furniture and electric wires—a potentially fatal hazard. Train your birds to stay at their play stand and closely supervise the bird when it is out of the cage.
To encourage good chewing habits, have a ready supply of bird-appropriate toys for them to chew, grasp, and climb. Expect to replace the toys regularly. Also, rotate the toys in and out as the bird loses interest in an item.
Social, affectionate, likes handling
Intelligent, one of the best talking cockatoos
Quietest of the cockatoos
Not as needy as other cockatoo species
Requires at least 3 to 4 hours of supervised out-of-cage time
Emits powdery dust that can aggravate allergies
Head crest not as noticeable as most other cockatoos
Where to Adopt or Buy a Slender-Billed Cockatoo
Contact slender-billed cockatoo breeders to see if you can spend some time with their birds. Talking to someone experienced in keeping these cockatoos will help you decide if they are a good match for your home.
Ask breeders how long they have been breeding and tour their facility. Make sure that the bird you take home is alert, active, and exhibits all the signs of a healthy bird, such as bright eyes, clean feathers, and full crops.
The price ranges from $3,000 to $4,000 for hand-tame babies or adults that need a new home. Some online sources where you can find slender-billed cockatoos include:
More Pet Bird Species and Further Research
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Otherwise, check out all of our other cockatoo bird species profiles.