It's heartwarming when your parrot returns the love you shower on her. Some hookbills are naturally more affectionate than others, though; when bringing one into your life you should decide how important a factor your pet's return affection is to you, and how much time and attention she'll require.
Cockatoos Have the Rep
Out of all the many types of parrots in the world, cockatoos have the reputation for being the most affectionate. They enjoy being held and like to cuddle with their humans. Cockatoos are so loyal and loving it sometimes might seem that they act less like birds and more like dogs. That's not to say that cockatoos will fetch, but you might be able to teach yours to roll over.
Cockatoo Affection Requirements
If you think the ultra-affectionate cockatoo is for you, it's in your and the bird's best interest that you know what to expect. It's true that they are affectionate and snuggly, but they expect the love to flow both ways. To keep your 'too happy, you'll have to schedule daily cuddle time to meet her need to give and receive love. She'll be expected to caress her feathers, scratch her head and even cuddle her like a baby. Be prepared to find yourself being fed by your cockatoo; she'll groom your hair and clothing, as well.
Don't Create a Monster
In their book on exotic pet practice, Mark A. Mitchell and Thomas N. Tully Jr., tell readers that the affection trait that draws many buyers to cockatoo is also often a source of disappointment. The cockatoo's intense need to give and receive affection can overwhelm the owner who isn't prepared for it and doesn't have enough time to give to a cockatoo. Resulting behavior problems turn your docile and loving bird into a demanding, neurotic one. If your lifestyle won't allow for scheduled interaction with your bird, opt for a different type of parrot who doesn't require so much time. And even if you do have the time and decide to adopt a cockatoo, start out spending only the amount of time with her that you realistically have to give. It's tempting to spend every waking moment with a bird who's new to your home; but once the honeymoon is over and your normal life takes over again, your cockatoo's disappointment may develop behavior problems like screaming and feather-plucking as a result.
Other Affectionate Parrots
Plenty of different kinds of parrots enjoy forging a bond with their humans yet won't deteriorate into a feather-picking mess if you end up working late and miss cuddle time. Lovebirds and Senegals are loving parrots who will be happy to be part of the family and don't require the position of center of your universe. Don't overlook budgies or parakeets. They may be smaller than the rest of the parrot family but they are affectionate little guys who enjoy entertaining themselves just as much as they enjoy interacting with their humans.
- Parrot Culture; Bruce Thomas Boehrer
- Birds Off the Perch: Therapy and Training for Your Pet Bird; Larry Lachman et al.
- VeterinaryPartner.com: Planning for a Parrot
- Animal Diversity Web: White Cockatoo
- Manual of Exotic Pet Practice; Mark A. Mitchell and Thomas N. Tully, Jr.
- Avian Web.com: Cockatoos as Pets
Elle Di Jensen has been a writer and editor since 1990. She began working in the fitness industry in 1987, and her experience includes editing and publishing a workout manual. She has an extended family of pets, including special needs animals. Jensen attended Idaho and Boise State Universities. Her work has appeared in various print and online publications.