There are twenty-one bird species in the cockatoo family. The cockatoo (or Cacatuidae) family is included in the order Psittaciformes, but they are not classified as “true parrots.”
One of the biggest differences between cockatoos and other parrots are the feathers on top of their heads. Cockatoos have unique crest feathers that are moveable, and unlike the “true” parrot species, cockatoos have a gall bladder!
Cockatoos also do not have oil glands that commonly facilitate preening. Instead, cockatoos produce a fine powder that results from the breakdown of downy feathers. This powder helps to protect their feathers and keep them clean. As a result, they create a lot of “dust” which may not be good for people with allergies.
The smallest species in the cockatoo family is the cockatiel and the largest is the Yellow-Tailed Black Cockatoo. Cockatoos are mostly white, black, pink or grey, and they often have vivid accent colors including yellow, salmon, orange and red.
Cockatoos are complex birds. If properly socialized they can make good pets, but they are definitely NOT birds for beginners with the exception of the cockatiel.
Cockatoos are prone to behavioral problems such as aggression, biting, feather destruction and self-mutilation. Parrot rescues are overrun with cockatoos that have been given up by inexperienced owners!
Cockatoos are the loudest of all the parrot species so they are usually not suited to living in apartments.
Cockatoos are not known for their talking skills, but they are good at learning tricks and they love music and dancing. They are also considered the loudest of all parrots and very destructive. Because of this, cockatoos need lots of toys to keep them busy.