Major Mitchell's Cockatoos

This striking pink bird can be a challenging pet

Pink cockatoo, Cacatua leadbeateri, with raised crest, Northern Territory, Australia
Auscape / UIG/Universal Images Group/Getty Images

Major Mitchell's Cockatoos are medium-sized cockatoos, who are smart and social. These birds bond strongly with their owners and have a reputation for being one-person birds.

Major Mitchell's Cockatoos require a lot of socialization and interaction with owners for their emotional health; think of this as replicating the "flock" experience cockatoos need in the wild. Because these cockatoos require so much attention, they are recommended for experienced bird owners who are familiar with keeping large parrots.

So Who Was Major Mitchell?

Averaging around 15 inches in length from the beak to the tip of the tail feathers, Major Mitchell's Cockatoos can live up to 75 years in captivity when treated well, especially if they're hand-fed as babies. They're native to Australia and are also known as the Leadbeater's Cockatoo and the Pink Cockatoo. 

The colorful Major Mitchell's Cockatoo is primarily a pinkish-white, with bright pink and orange feathers on their crests. They have gray feet and horn-colored beaks. 

According to the 1865 Handbook to the Birds of Australia by John Gould, this cockatoo is named for Major Sir Thomas Mitchell, who was an admirer. He wrote of the bird, "Few birds more enliven the monotonous hues of the Australian forest than this beautiful species."

Feeding and Exercise for Major Mitchell's Cockatoos

Like all cockatoos, Major Mitchell's may struggle with weight gain, so owners should monitor their fat intake.

High-quality pellets, a moderate amount of seed mix and daily helpings of fresh, bird-safe fruits and vegetables that have been thoroughly washed are the ideal diet for these birds.

And just like its fellow members of the parrot family, Major Mitchell's Cockatoos are active birds that need plenty of exercise to maintain their physical condition.

They need a minimum of 3 to 4 hours outside of the cage every day, to stretch their wings.

A smart owner will provide a Major Mitchell's Cockatoo with safe chew toys to exercise their beaks on. These birds chew wood to make nests in the wild and will display that same behavior in captivity if they get bored or restless.

Major Mitchell's Cockatoos as Pets

While it can be tempting to rush out and buy one of these beautiful birds, Major Mitchell's Cockatoos need specialized care and environments that not all bird owners can accommodate. In addition to needing a large cage, Major Mitchell's Cockatoos are loud vocalizers and probably aren't suited to live in apartments or other close quarters.

Since they do tend to bond with one person, Major Mitchell's Cockatoos can actually show signs of jealousy when their owners interact with other people. They may try to nip or bite the other person to show their irritation. This is one of the reasons this bird is not a good pet for families with small children.

Adopting a Major Mitchell's Cockatoo

These are high-maintenance, sensitive birds, so if you're planning to take one as a pet, prepare to spend a lot of time interacting with them. As mentioned previously, cockatoos and other birds in captivity that are neglected may resort to destructive behaviors.