The Magnificent Male Moluccan Cockatoo-
A Celebration of Life
By Linda Middleton
More than any other parrot the Male Moluccan Cockatoo typifies the joy of living. The exuberance of the magnificent males is a fiesta and celebration for their human. They play very hard as young birds, flapping, swinging, displaying their beauty, and physically demand that their cages, swings and play gyms hold up to a beating. The male Moluccan is one of the loudest of all parrots. His home should be one that can tolerate his triumphant calling well.
This picture is Rockie and his romping play style is typical of a male Moluccan.
Their boisterous playtime is important to stem aggression and make them content. As an adult parrot, you want a mellow, happy, loving, intelligent, well-behaved male Moluccan. Being playful with them, and sharing their play interactively over the years, should keep the bond strong and give you a greater chance of success in raising the male Moluccan to be a gentle creature.
Owners report that the strongest bond in their flock is that of their male Moluccan Cockatoo. Many are loving, caring and deeply need to be held and to spend quality time with their owners each day. Observers speculate that the capacity of the male Moluccan Cockatoo to bond to a human may be the greatest among all the parrots. They are also thought by many to be the most empathetic of all parrots, in-tune perfectly with their human's emotions.
A male Moluccan Cockatoo is hard to distract from his interests. They are able to form, pursue and effect a single-minded purpose. They focus on a challenge. Their attention span is long compared to other cockatoos.
Several male Moluccans were observed to tie complex knots with leather strips or rope. These knots take several hours to tie and the birds worked on them, rested from their labor, and returned to work on them to perfection. All knots tied by my male Moluccan are left looped. Knot tying demonstrates their capacity for focusing on a task for long periods of time.
The male Moluccan has a very sensitive temperament. Their feelings get
hurt easily. Mine will sulk and pout if I try to make him do something or tell him he can
not have a toy like the remote control for the television. Their big brown eyes are deep
pools of expression and reflect their thoughts to the human that knows them well.
The "mission" in life for a male Moluccan is to seek swash-buckling
adventures. Escaping from cages is commonly reported if they are not
padlocked. Once outside the cage, the male Moluccan is the captain of his own ship. Being drawn to electronics by his mechanical nature, the remote controls, telephones, answering machines, computers, and calculators are the first items he will choose to redesign and rewire. When this gets boring, he climbs cages of other birds and will try to release them.
Every object within grasp will go into the beak of the male Moluccan
Cockatoo. They seem to use their beaks as an appendage to further their mission of adventure seeking. Testing with the beak is an indicator of the level of curiosity that the bird has about objects around it. Much of the charm of the male Moluccan is directly attributable to his high curiosity level.
If there is one best word to describe a male Moluccan Cockatoo, I think "beautiful" is the word. Their grace, coloring, proportional arrangement and captivating charm conveyed by their body language makes them the most beautiful of all the parrots to me. Many parrot lovers can remember the first time they ever saw a Moluccan Cockatoo because of their beauty and stunning tangerine crest.
Clipping the flight feathers so they glide softly down but not fly is
important to their safety and will calm their attitude toward you. The
attitude of a trimmed (clipped) male Moluccan is more mellow and happy toward their human. Ceiling fans, light fixtures, and vaulted ceiling areas are especially attractive to a flighted male Moluccan. The wiring they chew is dangerous due to shock and also the metal content of the wires can cause a metal toxicity in their systems.
Taking a male Moluccan with you outside or to the store or anywhere he is welcome is a real treat for this adventurous cockatoo. Always put their harness and leash on them. It is best to start them out wearing it for
short trips outside when they are baby birds.
Life Expectancy of a male Moluccan is thought to be around 70 years. The care, food and socialization of a male Moluccan are very important over their long lives.
Because of their extra-large size, approximately 800-1100 grams, aggressive behavior in the male Moluccan gets a lot of attention. My Jenday Conure male, age 3, is a lot more aggressive than my male Moluccan. The Conure is too small to make as much impact. The inherent sweetness and dependency need of a male Moluccan is one key to keeping control of the male during adolescent years. The needy, soulful male Moluccan personality is lying just under that aggressive exterior at those times and we should try to reach that personality characteristic to restore level behavior to our males.
I observe that humans that establish controls, routines, provide
entertainment and give unconditional love to their male Moluccans seem to weather aggression best. By asking themselves will my parrot start to distrust me even just a little if I do this thing, the human can learn not to cause an unnecessary loss of trust. This allows a male Moluccan to arrive at adulthood with the least upset and a more stable and predictable personality. Controls most cited essential for developing male Moluccans are teaching step up on command, stick training, and glove training. An aggressive male Moluccan is more under your control when below your eye level and even more if you have one foot held in each hand, not on your forearm or even perched on one hand.
The personality of the magnificent male Moluccan Cockatoo is delightful.
Entertainment is a favorite activity. Many learn to laugh easily and delight in their ability to make you laugh with them. They love to perform and adore doing tricks for you. They expect your undivided attention while performing these tricks.
Be gentle, patient and adoring of a male Moluccan. Sometimes they challenge your decisions about them or remind you to pay attention to them by pinch biting you, just a little firm squeeze. Their beaks have the potential for 300 lbs. of pressure so a little firm pinch is deliberately meant for emphasis of their opinions. Pinches from the beaks of male Moluccans are a form of communication and not necessarily aggression.
Male Moluccan Cockatoos display much bravado. They enjoy shouting their zest for living and their scream is very loud. This is surface bravery for underneath this companion parrot is a hesitant, needful, bonded if tamed parrot. Great Moluccans enjoy a lap cuddle as soon as their flapping and screaming are over.
They are contemplative and seem to study their thoughts. You can see a Moluccan mind working if you watch them. They will sit quietly for hours in deep thought. Male Moluccans need mental and intellectual stimulation. To develop them to their full potential they need mechanical toys.
Although toys are not peculiar to a male Moluccan, their need for a wide, assorted variety of toys is important. Wooden toys and paper products that are easy to destroy help their confidence. Sturdy plastic toys that will rattle and last may lend them security. The large pieces of wood to chew are not thought to be the best kind for them as they may have trouble getting their beak around those to splinter them. The medium- sized wooden pieces should always be provided for beak conditioning and to relieve their boredom and are enjoyed by many Moluccans over the larger sized. A male Moluccan Cockatoo needs to bounce and swing on toys and play at least several times daily.
Ideally, the male Moluccan enjoys several hours a day outside the cage. His cage is his home and it should be wide and deep. Some of the sides should be vertical bars, as they will slide down them for exercise. The horizontal bar and the tall cages are designed for the long tails of the macaws. My male Moluccan's cage is 4 feet wide by 4 feet deep, a small room in essence for him.
My male Moluccan uses his cage floor space for running and as a platform to athletic feats. Five-foot wide cages are becoming more affordable and would be considered a great size by any Moluccan. Their cages must be strong. Large steel rods welded inside a track are good. A feeding system for a male Moluccan should be accessible from outside the cage.
When a stranger comes around, a male Moluccan will sometimes grow quiet. Once the bird learns about the person and decides they like them, then a show or performance is presented for their entertainment. Be sure to pay attention to this entertainment to lend confidence to the bird.
All these generalizations may not apply to your particular cockatoo. My goal in writing this is to help the curious reader understand the male Moluccan common traits better through the joy and zest for life that the male Moluccan Cockatoo demonstrates. The female Moluccan Cockatoo is said to be very similar, although not as aggressive and pronounced in demeanor as the male.
Adoration of the male Moluccan Cockatoo is the secret ingredient to the greatest success. If you adore him, he will surely adore you and will seek ways to please you. He will also be better equipped to attain a high confidence level. He is prone to being needy, so building his self-worth is a goal. Appreciation of their extreme beauty and intelligence will help you develop your male Moluccan into a great companion parrot.
April 20, 2000