Behavior of the Moluccan Cockatoo

by Lee Parker
Moluccan cockatoos are known for their large crests.

Moluccan cockatoos are known for their large crests.

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The Moluccan cockatoo, also known as the salmon-crested cockatoo, is a large parrot endemic to the Moluccan islands of Indonesia. The female Moluccan cockatoo is larger than the male. Both sexes sport retractable bright-orange crests on the tops of their heads. The Moluccan cockatoo is a vulnerable species, according to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Food and Feeding Behavior

The Moluccan cockatoo is primarily herbivorous, and his diet consists mostly of nuts and seeds. Difficult to crack nuts pose no problem for the Moluccan, as he can exert 500 pounds of pressure with its beak. In the wild, the Moluccan cockatoo forages in the canopies of trees for food. Many branches that hold cones and seeds cannot support the bird's weight, so the Moluccan cockatoo bends the branch toward himself, holding it with his foot to eat the fruit at the end.

Nesting Behavior

Moluccans are diurnal parrots. They spend their days away from their nests, foraging. They move around in pairs or singly but roost together in groups of a dozen or more. During the breeding season male Moluccan cockatoos become territorial and aggressive, and the dynamic changes. When two cockatoos select one another as mates, they leave the larger group to nest on their own. Pairs select large hollow trees in lowland rain forests for nesting locations, choosing to roost 16 to 100 feet off the ground. Nesting hollows, only slightly larger than the parrot pair, are filled with twigs, dry wood chips and leafy branches.

Reproductive Behavior

Moluccan cockatoos are monogamous, breeding with only one mate during the duration of that mate's life. Sexual maturity in females begins around 3 years of age. Moluccans have two or three eggs per clutch; they are capable of laying a second clutch if the first is lost. Both the male and female incubate the eggs over a period of 30 days. After three months, hatched fledglings are ready to leave the nest.

Captive Behavior

Moluccans are highly prized cockatoos for their beauty and their size; they're not uncommon captive birds in the United States. In captivity Moluccan cockatoos live on pellets, fruit and seeds, and are caged in large aviaries. Their behavior differs in domestic situations, as cockatoos are emotionally needy birds. Instead of connecting monogamously with a feathered mate, the single Moluccan cockatoo will deeply bond with its owner instead. This bonding results in the need for large amounts of interactivity with their owner. Moluccan cockatoos require a lot of attention and stimulation; they scream and self-mutilate when stressed, bored or unhappy.

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    Author

    Lee Parker has written for numerous magazines and websites, on topics ranging from food to animal care. Parker has a background in journalism, and specializes in easy-to-read content with unique information. A fun fact: Parker has been to every continent except for Antarctica. She holds a bachelor's degree in English.