Home | Bird Species Profiles | Goffin’s Cockatoo (Cacatua goffini): The Natural History and Captive Care of a Popular but Little-Studied Psittacine – Goffin Cockatoos as Pets – Part II

Goffin’s Cockatoo (Cacatua goffini): The Natural History and Captive Care of a Popular but Little-Studied Psittacine – Goffin Cockatoos as Pets – Part II

Click: Goffin’s Cockatoo (Cacatua goffini): The Natural History and Captive Care of a Popular but Little-Studied Psittacine – Goffin Cockatoos as Pets – Part I, for the first part of this article.

Goffin CockatooBe sure to install a full spectrum bird bulb over your pet’s cage. Please see my articles Providing the Proper Type and Amount of Light to Your Pet Bird and Lighting for Your Pet Bird: the Importance of Photoperiods for further information.Feeding
Goffin’s cockatoos consume a wide range of foods in the wild, and are at their best when provided with a rich, varied diet in captivity. The basis of their diet should be a high quality pellet, such as Lafeber Premium Pelleted Daily Diet for Macaws and Cockatoos, supplemented with nuts and seeds as contained in Sun Seed Vita Large Hookbill Bird Food. Lafeber Nutri-Berries and similar products can be used as treats and rewards.

Your cockatoo will also relish corn on the cob, broccoli, carrots and other fruits and vegetables, and should always have access to a cuttlebone.

Wild Goffin’s cockatoos are known to consume beetle larvae and other insects, and may have a higher need for animal-based protein than do their relatives. Most experienced aviculturists provide Goffin’s cockatoos with approximately ¼ of a hard-boiled egg each week or so.

Captive Longevity
Although typical longevities in the USA average 40 years, there are records of Goffin’s cockatoos living into their 60’s and 70’s, with individuals kept by European aviculturists reproducing until age 40.

This species is among the easiest of the cockatoos to train, and often becomes an affectionate pet. Like most cockatoos, it may bond to and jealously “guard” a favored person. Hand-reared birds, weaned between ages 12-16 weeks, usually make the best pets.

Breeding is best undertaken in a large outdoor aviary. The pair generally mates for life. The iris of the male is dark brown, while that of the hen is reddish-brown.

The nest box should measure 24″ x 16″ x 16″, and have an entrance hole of 4″ in diameter. The male usually incubates by day, the female by night. Please see “Reproduction” in a prior article for further details.

Goffin’s are fine talkers but do not enunciate their words as clearly as do some other parrots. Like all cockatoos, they shed a fine, powdery down.

An interesting article on feral Goffin’s cockatoos and other parrots in Florida, published in the Florida Field Naturalist, is posted at:

Image referenced from Wikipedia Commons


  1. avatar

    I enjoyed both of your stories on the Goffin’s cockatoo. My husband and I have experience with birds and have just adopted a 5 year old male Goffin’s named Cisco. He was not physically abused but unfortunately locked away in a room all alone until he was so depressed he pulled all his feathers out. He was sent to a sanctuary 4 months ago and his downy feathers are now growing back. We purchased a very large cage with many toys and we’ve strung up a scissel rope, with a few more chew toys, above his play top for him to play on as well. Since he has been locked away, as long as we are home, most days I’m home all day , we open up his cage doors and let him stay out as long as he wants until bed time. Unfortunately he’s still chewing his flight feathers and preening all the time. Is it possible he doesn’t know how to play so he just preens and chews? He’s not a screamer and seems very sweet so I don’t know why he’s been rehomed 2-3 times in his short life. I was wondering if this is a ‘honeymoon’ period since we just brought him home a couple days ago. Do you think we will see problems develop as he feels more comfortable? Or since he has grown past his teenage years, is what you see, what you get? Other than the days he doesn’t want to be mess with of course. They all have those! He’s also quite a talker and can say quiet a few things. So at one time, someone gave him the attention he needed. Any information will be helpful.I enjoyed the articals on Goffin’s.

  2. avatar

    Hello Trish, Frank Indiviglio here.

    Thanks for your interest and kind comment.

    It’s very kind of you to take in a troubled bird. Unfortunately, feather plucking/chewing is one of the most difficult parrot husbandry issues one can face. Very often the habit becomes ingrained, and remains long after the initial trigger has been eliminated. The longer the bird has been engaging in the behavior, the harder it is to break the habit…changes can occur after the teens are reached, but they are less likely.

    In addition to the commonly cited plucking triggers (i.e. boredom), an incredible array of less known factors can be at play, i.e. poor sleep quality, a lack of UVB and UVA light, the unwitting stimulation of mating behavior by an owner and so on. Again, the trigger may have been in the distant past. Any history you might be able to ascertain would be useful.

    You raised a very likely possibility in your note – past attention, evidenced by the bird’s vocabulary, followed by a period in relative isolation, could very likely be at the root of the problem.

    There is also a chance, albeit slight in your case, that a medical problem is involved. You may wish to have blood-work, fecal analysis, a feather biopsy, testing for Psittacine beak and feather disease etc. performed, just to cover all the bases.

    I’m sure you’re aware of this, but for the benefit of other readers I’ll mention also that yelling, squirting water and striking the cage will not dissuade feather plucking and, indeed, may encourage it. Rather, ignore the bird while it is plucking (this is difficult, of course) and, if possible, interact with it soon as it ceases the behavior. This might be especially effective for your bird, as it seems to enjoy human contact.

    Providing a well-balanced diet based on pellets is helpful, as is avoiding foods with artificial dyes (in the event an allergy is involved). All parrots spend a great deal of time and effort in finding and physically manipulating their food…those I have worked with in large zoo exhibits and the wild were constantly on the go. Providing ample foraging opportunities (foraging toys, hiding food, etc.) in addition to “regular toys” is very important to their well-being in captivity.

    Unfortunately, the process can be long and frustrating, but I sense you have the requisite commitment and concern. Good luck and please keep me posted.

    Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  3. avatar

    I just wanted to add to your subject on feather plucking. I have had a female Goffin for about a year now. When i got her she had chewed all but her down feathers. I suspect she was distressed and very lonely from lack of contact with humans or other cockatoos. I have given her a good home with all the toys, housing, feed and attention. I also found another helpful thing in getting her to stop chewing her feathers has been bathing. She loves the water and I have found that after bathing she preens but does not chew her feathers. She now has beautiful feathers and rarely chews them. I think old habits are hard to break but with love and good care it can get better.

  4. avatar

    Hello Nicole, Frank Indiviglio here.

    Thanks so much for taking the time to forward your observation. That’s a great bit of information and well worth further investigation. I’ll be sure to keep it on hand and will pass it along to others seeking advice. Your dedication and success will certainly be an inspiration.

    I look forward to hearing from you in the future, thanks for your interest in our blog.

    Good luck, enjoy and please keep me posted.

    Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  5. avatar

    I have a goffin, a 6 month old male named shabby. He is quite a charmer, although he has started nipping my husband. he doesn’t seem to mind where he nips, he just nips, he hasn’t done this with me, he cuddles and loves to sit with me and be petted. any suggestions on the nipping with my husband? Shabby has a very large cage with lots of toys, pellet diet, seeds,fruits,veggies, showers several times a week, outside play time etc..

  6. avatar

    Hello Deb, Frank Indiviglio here.

    Thanks for your interest in our blog.

    Unfortunately it’s quite common for parrots to become defensive of a favored person…many aviculturists feel that cockatoos are particularly likely to do so. Having your husband interact with the bird as much as possible would be useful, particularly so if he offers favored treats, provides a shower, lets the bird out for exercise, etc.

    You might also have him work with the bird out of your presence, and when you are together try to avoid close contact with each other. Amazingly, parrots are very good at recognizing affection or a “connection”. Much like a jealous dog (or child!) they may react to someone being in close contact with the object of their affection.

    You can read a bit more on this in an article I’ve posted on this blog: Bonding in Parrots.
    Good luck, enjoy and please keep me posted.

    Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

About Frank Indiviglio

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I believe that I was born with an intense interest in animals, as neither I nor any of my family can recall a time when I was not fascinated by creatures large and small. One might imagine this to be an unfortunate set of circumstances for a person born and raised in the Bronx, but, in actuality, quite the opposite was true. Most importantly, my family encouraged both my interest and the extensive menagerie that sprung from it. My mother and grandmother somehow found ways to cope with the skunks, flying squirrels, octopus, caimans and countless other odd creatures that routinely arrived un-announced at our front door. Assisting in hand-feeding hatchling praying mantises and in eradicating hoards of mosquitoes (I once thought I had discovered “fresh-water brine shrimp” and stocked my tanks with thousands of mosquito larvae!) became second nature to them. My mother went on to become a serious naturalist, and has helped thousands learn about wildlife in her 16 years as a volunteer at the Bronx Zoo. My grandfather actively conspired in my zoo-buildings efforts, regularly appearing with chipmunks, boa constrictors, turtles rescued from the Fulton Fish Market and, especially, unusual marine creatures. It was his passion for seahorses that led me to write a book about them years later. Thank you very much, for a complete biography of my experience click here.
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