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Cockatoos are one of any twenty bird species belonging to the Cacatuidae family. The name “Cockatoo” comes from the Malay name for these birds. They are of the Parrot species, which are usually grouped into two families: the Psittacidae (or “True Parrots,) and the Cacatuidae (or Cockatoos.) Cockatoos share many features with other True Parrots, including their characteristic curved beak shape and clawed zygodactyl feet with two forward toes and two backwards toes. However, they also have several characteristics that differ from True Parrots, including their movable head crest, the presence of a gall bladder and other anatomical details. They also lack the Dyck texture feather composition which causes the bright blues and greens seen in True Parrots. The Cockatoo species are larger than the average size of True Parrots, except for the Cockatiel, the smallest Cockatoo, which is a small bird, and the Hyacincth Macaw and the flightless Kakapo, which are larger Parrots. Cockatoos occur naturally only in Australia and the nearby islands of the South Pacific: Indonesia, the Solomon Islands, New Zealand and New Guinea. Eleven of the 21 species exist in the wild only in Australia, three species occur in both New Guinea and Australia, while seven species occur in the other islands. There are over 40 varieties of Cockatoos, with the most common being the Greater Sulphur Crested Cockatoo, the Medium Sulphur Crested Cockatoo, the Lesser Sulphur Crested Cockatoo, the Citron, the Umbrella Cockatoo, the Galah or Rose Breasted Cockatoo, the Moluccan, the Goffin and the Bare Eyed Cockatoo. The most recognized is the Sulphur Crested Cockatoo.

Many experts agree that Cockatoos exhibit the most intelligent behavior of all the Parrot family, although they do not always talk as well as True Parrots. These lovable creatures sometimes act more like a dog than a bird. They love to be touched and scratched on the back of the head by their owner. Cockatoos come in different colors, but mainly white. Some come in grays and pinks, blacks and deep blue. With their intelligence also comes a certain emotional vulnerability. They love attention and if they get used to lavish attention and it is taken away, they may become emotionally distraught (and will let you know with their very loud screams.) Cockatoos are also charmingly vain and will often spread their wings, toss their heads to display their wonderful crests – seemingly all for your enjoyment! Cockatoos are the most long-lived of Parrots, with an average lifespan of 40-60 years. There have even been some reported cases of Cockatoos living into their 80s, so be prepared for a lifelong companion.


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