Red-Tailed Black Cockatoo: Personality, Pictures, Diet, & Care Guide


The red-tailed black cockatoo is a fairly rare bird in the United States. However, if you are lucky enough to get your hands on one of these beautiful birds, you won’t be disappointed; they are affectionate and social animals that can make wonderful pets. Keep reading our guide to learn more about how to care for these birds.divider-birds

Species Overview

Common Names Red-Tailed Black Cockatoo, Banksian Black Cockatoo, Banks’ Black Cockatoo
Scientific Name Calyptorhynchus banksii
Adult Size 21-25 inches
Life Expectancy 25-50 years

Origin and History

red-tail black cockatoos_Terri Sharp_Pixabay
Image Credit: Terri Sharp, Pixabay

The red-tailed black cockatoo is one of several cockatoo species originating in Australia. These unique birds are easy to identify due to their distinctive colors. While they are relatively hard to find in the United States, the red-tailed black cockatoo is a popular Australian symbol. For example, these birds play an important part in Aboriginal culture—they even play a part in creation stories. There are five subspecies of the red-tailed black cockatoo that can be found across the Australian continent: Calyptorhynchus banksii banksii, C. b. graptogyne, C. b. Macrorhynchus, C. b. Naso, and C. b. samueli. Today, these majestic birds face threats to their natural habitat due to deforestation and agriculture.

Temperament

red-tailed black cockatoo_Danielle Shaw_Pixabay
Image Credit: Danielle Shaw, Pixabay

Cockatoos are well-known for being affectionate, social, excitable, and sometimes very loud animals. As pets, they tend to require more human interaction than you might expect from a pet bird. If left alone without adequate attention for too long, they can become neurotic or depressed.

Red-tailed black cockatoos tend to be calm and friendly birds, especially when compared with other cockatoo species. They aren’t as loud as other cockatoos and will even be relatively quiet as long as they are happy. However, like other birds, they are very curious animals by nature that love to explore their surroundings. In the wild, they often chew on leaves, branches, and other objects, perhaps in part to keep their beaks in top shape. Unfortunately, this means that they often like to chew just about anything in sight, which can make them destructive pets. Make sure your red-tailed black cockatoo always has access to toys made for birds—or even just branches from your backyard—and avoid letting your pet bird sit on your furniture unsupervised.

Pros

  • Long lifespan makes for a long-term companion
  • Less vocal than other cockatoo breeds
  • Intelligent, social, and affectionate personality

Cons

  • Can be expensive because they are rare in the United States
  • Occasionally destructive behavior, especially if bored

Speech & Vocalizations

red-tailed black cockatoo_Tony Bowler_Shutterstock
Image Credit: Tony Bowler, Shutterstock

The red-tailed black cockatoo is less vocal than other cockatoo species, but that doesn’t mean it never talks. On the contrary, these birds have very distinctive vocalizations that sound like a “kree” or “caw.” Cockatoos are a type of parrot, and like other parrots, they are capable of mimicking humans and even learning some words. However, the fact that they know how to say a word does not mean that they know what they are saying; you shouldn’t expect to be able to carry on a conversation with your bird.

Red-Tailed Black Cockatoo Colors and Markings

red-tailed black cockatoo_Piqsels
Image Credit: Piqsels

As the red-tailed black cockatoo’s name suggests, it has a striking red tail that accents their otherwise black bodies. Females also have yellow spots throughout their bodies in addition to yellow-orange coloration under their tails and on their breasts. Their feathers are usually not truly black like the males, but rather a less vibrant version of dark brown and black.

Young red-tailed black cockatoos have similar physical characteristics to female birds, with the addition of a white-colored ring in their eyes. Their feather patterns will not yet be complete at the juvenile age.

One of the most unique characteristics of cockatoos is the fact that they have zygodactyl feet, which means that instead of having all of their toes facing the front of the foot, they have two toes in front and two toes in back. This helps them grab onto objects with ease.

Caring for the Red-Tailed Black Cockatoo

red-tailed black cockatoo flying_Terri Sharp_Pixabay
Image Credit: Piqsels

Red-tailed black cockatoos are fairly large birds that like to fly and climb, so it is important to buy or build a living area that is big enough for them to move around freely. You can’t really have a cage that is too large for cockatoos, so if you have space for a large cage in your home, buy it! Your bird can live a long time, so dedicating money and a portion of your home to making sure that your pet has a good quality of life is worthwhile. At a minimum, your cockatoos should be able to stand upright and spread their wings without touching the sides of the cage.

Keep in mind that if you purchase a smaller cage due to space constraints, you may need to spend more dedicated time taking your bird out of its cage for exercise than you would if you provided it with an aviary that is large enough for flight. If possible, the cage or aviary should include a variety of branches or perches that your bird can climb and sit on.

In terms of cleaning your cockatoo’s enclosure, plan to remove any uneaten food, clean your bird’s food and water bowls, and remove feces from the bottom of the enclosure on a daily basis. You may only need to change out the nesting material in the enclosure about once per month.

Common Health Problems

red-tailed black cockatoo_Pixabay
Image Credit: Pixabay

There are a few different physical signs you should look out for when caring for your red-tailed black cockatoo to ensure that your bird is healthy. Keep an eye on its behavior and movement, posture, responsiveness, and feathers. New behaviors or physical symptoms could be a sign that something is wrong. Of course, diarrhea, vomiting, weight loss, or loss of appetite are all causes for concern.

Below we have listed some common health problems that you should be aware of when caring for a red-tailed black cockatoo:

  • Psittacosis – Psittacosis is a bacterial infection that can spread to humans. You can help prevent psittacosis by keeping your bird’s cage clean and changing out its food and water daily.
  • Candida – Candida is a fungus that can infect your cockatoo’s mouth and digestive tract. It is particularly common in young birds.
  • Feather Plucking – There are many reasons why a bird might pluck its feathers, including boredom, allergies, poor nutrition, or other causes. If you notice your bird plucking, talk to your veterinarian to get to the root of the problem.
  • Tapeworms – Birds most commonly get tapeworms by eating an insect that has tapeworm eggs.

Diet and Nutrition

nuts_Piqsels
Image Credit: Piqsels

Cockatoos primarily eat seeds and nuts in the wild. You can feed your red-tailed black cockatoo a pelleted diet in addition to fresh food such as fruits, vegetables, grains, and occasionally seeds and nuts. In order to find out how much food you should give your bird, take note of how much it eats; if you find that your cockatoo leaves a lot of food untouched, reduce the amount accordingly. Try to stick to feeding your bird in the morning and at dusk in order to mimic its natural feeding schedule. Talk to your vet about whether or not you should supplement your bird’s diet with multivitamins.

Exercise

Like all animals, red-tailed black cockatoos need exercise. As you can imagine, being in a cage restricts your cockatoo’s opportunities for moving about. In addition to providing your cockatoo with plenty of toys for chewing and preening, you should also ensure that it gets plenty of exercise. Aim to give your bird 3-4 hours of time outside of the cage. You can purchase bird play gyms for your cockatoo that will help it meet its exercise requirements.

Where to Adopt or Buy a Red-Tailed Black Cockatoo

red-tailed black cockatoo in tree_Danielle Shaw_Pixabay
Image Credit: Danielle Shaw, Pixabay

If you want to buy a red-tailed black cockatoo—or any bird that you intend on keeping as a pet—you have a few different options. You can adopt or rescue a red-tailed black cockatoo directly through your local pet shelter or using websites such as PetFinder to locate birds in your area.

Because the red-tailed black cockatoo is relatively rare in the United States, you may have a hard time finding one at a shelter. If you are set on bringing one of these birds home, you can also look for a breeder. If possible, make sure the breeder is reputable by asking to tour the breeding facility. Check the cages for cleanliness and be sure to ask the prospective breeder about your bird’s health history.divider-birds

Conclusion

Overall, the red-tailed black cockatoo can make a wonderful pet. It may take some time to find one of these birds in the United States, but if you do find one, it will be worth the wait; they are majestic, intelligent, and social creatures that tend to be long-term companions due to their long lifespan.


Featured Image Credit: Merrillie Redden, Shutterstock



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