Feathered Companions: The 10 Best Pet Cockatoo Species to Consider

Cockatoos are affectionate birds and are known as “velcro birds” because they love spending time with their caretakers. They are members of the parrot family and there are several cockatoo species to commonly keep as pets. However, they aren’t the easiest birds to care for because they require lots of attention, can be noisy, and, if neglected, can become depressed and ultimately resort to destructive behaviors.

Despite the obstacles of living and caring for a cockatoo, they are beautiful and loving creatures that have an attractive plumage. With the right care and attention, they can become your best companion. Here are 10 of the most popular pet cockatoo species to consider having as a pet.

  • 01 of 10

     

    Bare-Eyed Cockatoo

    bare-eyed cockatoo standing on grass
     Toby Hudson/Wikimedia Commons

    The bare-eyed cockatoo might not be the prettiest parrot, but it makes up for it in personality. Sweet, playful, and intelligent, these birds are smaller than many cockatoo species. This makes them a good option for families with children and those who lack the space to accommodate a large parrot.

    Species Overview

    Length: 14 to 17 inches

    Weight: 11 to 16 ounces

    Physical Characteristics: Primarily white; pink on face; gray-tan beak; gray-blue eye circles

  • 02 of 10

     

    Black Palm Cockatoo

    Black palm cockatoo
    Floridapfe from S.Korea Kim in cherl/Getty Images

    Black palm cockatoos are large, powerful birds that require a caretaker with ample parrot experience. While hand-fed black palm cockatoos can make excellent pets, they still require firm training to keep them tame. These are bold parrots that need bold owners who aren’t intimidated by that massive beak.

    Species Overview

    Length: 23 inches

    Weight: 32 to 42 ounces

    Physical Characteristics: Smoky gray plumage; long crest; gray feet and beak; red patches on cheeks

  • 03 of 10

     

    Citron Cockatoo

    Citron crested cockatoo
    Ger Bosma/Getty Images

    Citron cockatoos are quieter than most cockatoo species. However, they have big personalities and love to play and interact with their caretakers. Inquisitive and affectionate, a citron cockatoo will want to be by your side all day long. So be prepared to spend several hours per day with this bird.

    Species Overview

    Length: 14 inches

    Weight: 16 ounces

    Physical Characteristics: Primarily white; orange cheek patches; yellow under wings and tail; orange crest; gray feet and beak

  • 04 of 10

     

    Sulphur-Crested Cockatoo

    sulphur-crested cockatoo in a tree
    Hermann Büchen/EyeEm/Getty Images

    Sulphur-crested cockatoos are highly intelligent and need plenty of space to play. Unless these birds are given adequate exercise and mental stimulation, they might resort to behaviors, such as feather picking and destructive chewing. Caretakers must provide their birds with plenty of toys and several hours of attention each day.

    Species Overview

    Length: 15 to 20 inches

    Weight: 12 to 31 ounces

    Physical Characteristics: Primarily white; yellow crest; black beak

  • 05 of 10

     

    Goffin’s Cockatoo

    Goffin's cockatoo pair in a tree
    Arco J & C/Getty Images

    Goffin’s cockatoos require as much daily socialization as possible for their emotional health. These birds simply cannot thrive if they are neglected and will resort to destructive behaviors if their social needs aren’t met. Because they are intelligent and slightly mischievous, these birds are recommended for people who have experience with large parrots.

    Species Overview

    Length: 13 inches

    Weight: 8 to 14 ounces

    Physical Characteristics: Primarily white; pink on sides of beak; pink near crest; yellow under wings; gray feet and beak

  • 06 of 10

     

    Major Mitchell’s Cockatoo

    Major Mitchell cockatoo with crest standing up
    Kathryn Diehm/Getty Images

    The Major Mitchell’s cockatoo is an attractive and intelligent bird that is known for its colorful crest. While they are a sight to see, these cockatoos need specialized care and large enclosures that not all people can accommodate. They also are recommended for those who are familiar with large parrots.

    Species Overview

    Length: 14 inches

    Weight: 15 ounces

    Physical Characteristics: Primarily pinkish-white; pink patches around neck and on underbelly; pink under wings; pink and yellow-orange crest with white tips

  • 07 of 10

     

    Moluccan Cockatoo

    Moluccan cockatoo pair perching in a tree
    Alexander Bialik/EyeEm/Getty Images

    Moluccan cockatoos are affectionate birds that bond strongly with their caretakers. Those interested in a Moluccan cockatoo should expect a cuddly and somewhat clingy feathered friend, as these birds like to stay close to their favorite humans. Thus, they require a person who is home for most of the day.

    Species Overview

    Length: 20 inches

    Weight: 30 ounces

    Physical Characteristics: Primarily white plumage; pink feathers on base of crest; yellow to peach feathers under wings; black beak and feet

  • 08 of 10

     

    Rose-Breasted Cockatoo

    Galah flying
    Vanessa Mylett/Getty Images

    Their striking pink and gray feathers and friendly personalities have made rose-breasted cockatoos popular pets. These birds can live up to 80 years in captivity with proper care. Also known as galahs, they tend to be loud and bold, so don’t expect a quiet companion if you bring one home.

    Species Overview

    Length: 12 to 15 inches

    Weight: 10 to 14 ounces

    Physical Characteristics: Pink chest and lower part of face; pinkish-white crest; gray back, wings, and tail; gray feet; tan beak

  • 09 of 10

     

    Umbrella Cockatoo

    umbrella cockatoos preening
    Tannie Teh/EyeEm/Getty Images

    Hand-fed umbrella cockatoos can be friendly, well-behaved pets. Many learn to do tricks and can mimic speech quite well. But as highly social birds, they tend to be very affectionate and even borderline obsessive about spending time with their favorite people. Still, many are beloved family pets gentle enough for older children.

    Species Overview

    Length: 18 inches

    Weight: 16 to 26 ounces

    Physical Characteristics: Primarily white plumage; pale yellow on wings and tail; large white crest; black beak

  • 10 of 10

     

    Slender-Billed Cockatoo

    three long-billed corellas on a branch
    Auscape/UIG/Getty Images

    Slender-billed cockatoos, also known as long-billed corellas, long have been popular pets in their native Australia and are beginning to attract fans around the world. The needs of this cockatoo are similar to those of other large parrots. They crave interaction with their caretakers and require daily handling to maintain their emotional health.

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