How to Bond With a Cockatoo

Spending quality time with your cockatoo encourages bonding.

Spending quality time with your cockatoo encourages bonding.

It's always enjoyable when the cockatoo you love feels the same way about you. Parrots tend to have a mind of their own, though, and you can't force your cockatoo to choose you over another member of the family, but you can stack the odds in your own favor.

Spend quality time with your cockatoo. Let her join you when you're watching television and include her when you sit down to eat. Spend some QT (quality time) with her playing her favorite games or with the toys she enjoys most. The more effort you put into making time together enjoyable the more likely your cockatoo will be associate you with positive experiences and bond to you.

Handle your cockatoo carefully but also with a measure of authority. Mishandling a parrot will lead to her fearing you or not respecting you, and neither scenario will encourage her to bond to you.

Feed your cockatoo her most favorite treat when you get her out of her cage for play time. You should be the only one in the family to give her the food she finds the yummiest so you're the only human she associates it with. Yes, it smacks of bribery, but cockatoos can be tough customers.

Groom your bird. In the wild, parrot mates groom each other and your cockatoo will associate the grooming with care that a mate would provide. Gently pull her wings open and lightly pinch individual feathers between your fingers as you run them down the feather to the tip. Lightly scratch her head or rub it with a small stick. Rub her chest with the side of your finger. Any action that can be construed as grooming will promote bonding.

Items you will need

  • Parrot toys
  • Treats


  • Have patience with your cockatoo when promoting bonding. There are no guarantees who she'll choose to be her BFF, but being consistent in your treatment of her will encourage her to trust you, which is the first step in the bonding process. She might seem almost indifferent to you for months and then one day you may wake up to find she only has eyes for you.
  • Some grooming tasks should be performed by a professional groomer or your avian vet. Things like clipping your cockatoo's wings and nails are best done by someone who has been trained to do them to avoid hurting or injuring your parrot.

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About the Author

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.

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