Cockatoos are the clowns of the bird world. They are extremely intelligent, fun and sweet, and when well cared for, can live up to 80 years. But to get there, it's important that you learn what a healthy cockatoo sounds and acts like and when it's time for a vet visit.
Inspect the plumage. Healthy cockatoos will likely have shiny, clean feathers with no molting. A common sign of disease -- both physical and emotional -- is feather plucking. In fact, cockatoos can turn into very neurotic birds in times of severe stress and self-inflict a lot of damage by plucking their feathers until they draw blood.
Look for signs of showmanship. Cockatoos are born entertainers. Not all types of cockatoos speak, but the ones who do usually have a large vocabulary and will break out in songs and conversation at the oddest of times. If your normally talkative bird is suddenly quiet, something's wrong. Cockatoos who don't speak will still be lively, fun birds. As long as that attitude is present, your bird is probably healthy. A lethargic, depressed bird is probably very sick and should see the vet immediately.
Listen to your cockatoo breathe. A healthy bird will breathe so quietly you should barely be able to hear it in between all the talking and singing. Labored or raspy breathing, nasal discharge, coughing and unnatural head twisting can all indicate difficulty breathing and a possible respiratory infection.
Pay attention to body positioning. Healthy birds have perfect balance. You probably noticed this the first time you saw your cockatoo walking on a narrow perch, curtain rod or even the back of a chair. If your cockatoo is suddenly wobbly, like he's having a hard time maintaining steady balance, this could be a sign of trouble. Favoring one foot over the other for long periods of time could also indicate a problem.
Tammy Dray has been writing since 1996. She specializes in health, wellness and travel topics and has credits in various publications including Woman's Day, Marie Claire, Adirondack Life and Self. She is also a seasoned independent traveler and a certified personal trainer and nutrition consultant. Dray is pursuing a criminal justice degree at Penn Foster College.