A True Aussie Love Story
An injured cockatoo finds a new home and true love
By Robyne Le Brocque
About eight years ago, a wild Australian Sulphur Crested cockatoo flew into a car and broke her wing. The driver took her to the veterinarian in Nerang, Queensland , who had to amputate the wing.
We adopted her (after getting a National Parks and Wildlife permit) and kept her in a cage outside where she was often visited by wild cockatoos.
One of the things that impressed us was how she would push lettuce leaves through the bars of the cage, offering food to visitors.
Click on the slide show to see what happened next!
We leave the door open during the day but if we forget, it doesn’t matter: Cockatoos have intelligence that rival primates.
Because she has only one wing, she stays inside or just sits on top.
Guess what happened next…
At first it seemed as though he was annoyed because she did not fly off with him and he would squawk a lot. He soon came to understand that she could not fly so he just stayed. However, she was no longer returning to her cage. The two of them would stay in the trees in our garden, and because the yard is well fenced, they were safe from dogs. But the neighbor’s cat is not kept indoors at night and we often have to chase it away. Chances are the cat would come off second best in a confrontation with a Cockatoo but at night cats remain a danger because they could stalk a sleeping bird on the ground.
Cockatoos make their nests in hollow logs but we noticed the male hard at work digging a hole under a clump of Lilly Pilly trees. We put down a hollow log for them but they just ignored us. The nest he dug was a hole with a short tunnel leading off to where she laid her eggs. Once there were eggs in the nest, the male became extremely aggressive. You’d better not get near the nest or he will take chunks of flesh from your foot. It was difficult to take these pictures because I literally had to steal them while running away from the male.
We kept a vigil to see how things were progressing. They took turns incubating the eggs and covering the tunnel. After about three weeks, the eggs hatched.
Have a careful look at this picture and try to spot the bit of yellow fluff.
Whenever Mum & Dad Cockatoo leave the nest, we try to get a look but you have to do it while running because Dad Cockatoo is chasing you!
Well, I hope his mother thinks he is pretty, and eventually I might think so too. But at the moment, both of them just look like pink balls with a bit of yellow fluff!
Dr. Robyne LeBrocque teaches social and behavioral science at the University of Queensland, Australia.