Major Mitchell’s cockatoo is a beautiful colored cockatoo, and it’s considered to be one of the most beautiful cockatoos in the world. The feathers on the wings are white, the rest of them are a soft pink. The crest looks plain when it is down, but when erect is has beautiful orange and yellow coloring. The bill and feet are bone-colored.
The Scientific name of this bird is Cacatua leadbeateri, previously Lophochroa leadbeateri. Major Mitchell’s cockatoo occurs naturally in Southern and Western Australia. They live in forest areas and do not go to the open field so often.
It is possible to keep this species of cockatoo as a pet in your home, but it is not common. They can become just as tame, affectionate, and loving as any other species of cockatoo, but they need to be socialized well. If they are not correctly socialized and tamed when young, they will never become really tame or affectionate to humans. This species is also extremely hard to breed in captivity and generally needs a very large aviary. This is why this bird is more seen in bird parks and zoos than as a pet.
For all their beauty, these birds don’t make the best pets because they tend to be aloof – and they often bite. They are also noisy; they rarely speak, but they are loud screamers. If you have your heart set on one, though, choose a female; she’ll be more docile, although not as common in the market as males.
These birds, whose formal name is Cacatua leadbeateri, are inquisitive and love to chew objects, so they should always be provided with toys, blocks of wood or branches. Don’t permit them unsupervised run of the house. They can be very destructive if allowed to perch on furniture.
While Major Mitchell’s are uncommon and expensive in the U.S. market commanding $4,000 to $10,000 for a young bird. They are found in central Australia, especially in the south-central areas around Adelaide, inhabiting eucalyptus forests along rivers. They are frequently found co-existing with rose-breasted cockatoos on savannahs and grasslands, where they feed on seeds, herbs, and crops of wheat and corn. They also eat native figs, pinecones and eucalyptus seeds, wild bitter melons, insect larvae, nuts, and flowers. They are most active in the early morning and late afternoon. Aggressively territorial, they are usually found in pairs or small groups.
Like other cockatoo species, Major Mitchell’s can be very long-lived. A few individuals in zoos have lived up to 60 years. Precise data on the life span of the average bird is poorly documented; however, most of them don’t live as long as they might, often succumbing to disease or injury.
These medium-sized cockatoos go by a whole bunch of names.
Routine bathing or showering is vital to maintaining good plumage and skin condition. Birds can be misted and allowed to dry in a warm room or in the sun, or gently dried with a blow dryer. Care should be taken not to clip the wing feathers excessively as cockatoos often fall and injure themselves. Clip only the primary flight feathers and only enough so the bird will glide to the floor. Major Mitchell’s are better flyers than Moluccans and umbrellas and a few more feathers should be removed.
A high protein pelleted diet is an excellent staple diet for cockatoos. It should be supplemented with fresh fruits and vegetables daily to add variety. Feed approximately 1/4 cup of formulated diet and 1/4 cup of fresh fruits and vegetables daily. If the bird consumes all of his food, add small amounts as desired. Note, though, that overfeeding leads to pickiness, wastage, and throwing food. Treats such as seeds, nuts, and table foods may be given in small amounts especially as rewards for good behavior.
They are named after Major Sir Thomas Mitchell, who was a surveyor and explorer in Australia, where they live.
Major Mitchell’s cockatoos are very active and should be provided the largest cage that space and budget allow – at the very least, the cage must allow room for the bird to spread his wings fully. These birds are moderately strong chewers and can break welds on poorly constructed cages. Many are also adept at opening cage latches, so locks or escape-proof latches may be necessary. Ideally, the bird will have an outdoor cage as well to allow playtime in the fresh air and sunlight.
Breeding age can be as young as three years. Breeding life span is not precisely known but is possibly up to 25-plus years.
Major Mitchell’s cockatoos breed well in captivity but are not as prolific or bred as commonly as Moluccan and umbrella cockatoos. In North America, Major Mitchell’s cockatoos breed predominantly in the winter and spring. Clutch size is typically 2 to 3 eggs.
Breeding cages should be large enough to allow flight between perches to help prevent obesity. One inch by one inch 12-gauge welded wire is a good choice for cage construction. A suggested size is 5 feet wide by 5 feet tall by 10 feet long suspended 4 feet above the ground or floor or a large flight cage.
However, these beauties are very popular as pets, for obvious reasons.
Common Diseases and Disorders
Cockatoos are relatively healthy birds but are susceptible to the following:
- Psittacine beak and feather disease
- Mate aggression
- Juvenile chewing of flight feathers and tail
- Poor eating habits – picky eaters
- Bacterial and fungal infections
- Sarcocystis (parasitic disease fatal to Major Mitchell’s )
- Toxicity, ingestion of metals