|Sydney, the Rose Breasted Cockatoo
By Bird Club Member, Karen Kaseman
To describe my little companion Sydney best, think Road Runner, you know “beep”, “beep”. In fact, her dear friend Diane Richards calls her just that!! However, Sydney is not a road runner, she is my very active, very rambunctious Rose Breasted Cockatoo.
Sydney is the epitome of a perpetual 2 year old (child). She is a very independent bird, but left to her own devises, she will always do or get into something she is not suppose to, so we have to diligently keep a “hawk eye” on her. In fact, when Sydney finally learned her name, it was not “Sydney” (normal tone) it was SYYDNEEEY!!! (high pitch)
But with all of the homework she has shredded and leather shoes she has distressed, we cannot imagine our lives without her. She is truly a “family” bird and loves us all equally (well, maybe her mama a pinch more) and if you have food, you don’t even have to be family to make her your best buddy, as long as you share.
Rose Breasted Cockatoos are also known as Galah’s, which means “fool”, or “clown like”. Trust me, Sydney is no fool, but she can certainly be the “clown” of the house with her antics. Her favorite is flipping on her back, yelling at the top of her little lungs (air sacs) while you try to tickle her tummy. And hands down, she is the most curious (actually, she’s a nosy, busybody) little creature I have ever known, with a very sticky beak!
Although ‘Rosies” are the smallest of the cockatoo family measuring 13-14 inches, they do require a larger size cage because they are extremely active. The minimum cage size should be 36”x36”x36” but the bigger the better because they will utilize all the space and they love lots and lots of toys that they can shred, destroy, and hang upside down on.
Well, enough about Sydney. Here is some information about “Rosies” in general:
Country of Origin: Australia
In Australia, the rose-breasted cockatoo, Eolophus roseicapillus, is as common as a pigeon in Central Park. "Rosies," as they are called down under, are pests at times, chopping through communications wiring with their curious beaks and attacking freshly harvested crops to satisfy their hunger. Yet, for all of their problematic behaviors, these beautiful, plentiful pink cockatoos continue to captivate many Australians who keep them as household pets - placing them in the position of being both loved and loathed in their own homeland. At least for now, exportation of these common birds is limited, although they remain on the list of pests that can be shot or otherwise eliminated.
Many cockatoos are regarded as gentle, social birds, but Rosies generally don't share that same reputation. This does not mean that the rose-breasted cockatoos can't be a sociable avian companion. It can be, although it usually defines the level of companionship on its own terms. Rosies want to be cuddled on their terms, and can change their minds quickly. Even hand-raised Rosies often have a wide independent streak that can be off-putting.
What they lack in cuddliness they more than make up for in other methods of social interaction. Rosies enjoy the presence of humans and can sit happily on a perch in the same room with their owners for hours. The rose-breasted cockatoos have a very outgoing personality and are commonly referred to as the "extroverts" of the cockatoos, they are highly intelligent and make good pupils, willing to learn from you whether you realize it or not. They can be taught to mimic the human voice, but they are not one of the great talkers of the cockatoo world.
Rosies love to explore their cage and they have a unique habit of walking on the cage floor. A Rosie's cage should be as large as possible, even if you are housing one pet. The floor should be barred so that the bird is kept away from the food and droppings below. This tendency to explore and walk on cage floors means it is extremely important that the floor bars be kept cleaned and sanitized.
Keeping rose-breasted cockatoos trim and healthy is very important as captive birds have a tendency to develop fatty tumors or lymphomas. Rose-breasted cockatoos, like most other cockatoo species, are prone to obesity. They should be given a nutritionally balanced diet that lacks most types of foods that contain a large percentage of fat. Eliminating high fat content foods and giving these cockatoos enough space to adequately exercise are the two main ways to reduce the chance for fatty tumors. Dry seeds, such as sunflower and safflower, should not be offered to these cockatoos. Approximately one-half cup of vegetable types of foods ("soak and cook") or a pelletted diet should be given each day and plenty of exercise.