Can You Address Feeding And Care For Larger M2s (Moluccan Cockatoos)?

moluccan cockatoo on perch against dark background
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As opposed to a “firehose” of information.

 

Now you know what fielding questions about captive bird care looks like to us.

 

We don’t know where it’s going to come from – Disqus, our blog, one of three ways you can contact us directly on  the website or email.

 

Just organizing the questions is a task in-and-of-itself.

This question came from the Disqus comment system attached to the blog post titled – How To Easily Get Powdered Supplements Into Your Bird – Video

 

Audrey writes

Love “Birdie Brunches” Can you address feeding and care for larger M2s? {Moluccan Cockatoos}

 

And how to minimize biting as well as picky eaters that refuse to eat chop?

 

Just a few suggestions would help!

 

I feed Roudybush pellets and currently supplement with vegetable puree at night, which he only eats with brown rice and extra smoothie (all natural) juices of different flavors.

 

If I don’t change it up, he won’t eat it.

 

Then he eats nothing and is a beast in the morning. 🙂

 

He also gets some soy yogurt with mango or banana in the morning to calm him down.

 

He is 13 and has been with us for 3 years, I had a female M2 previously for 33 years and never a bite or a problem.

 

He’s a handful.

 

Hi Audrey,

 

This is one technique we use to avoid getting bit by a 15-year-old bird in our home for 3 weeks as of the publishing date of this post (09/20/18)

 

 

That’s the good news.

 

For the rest of my answer please file under “nobody likes to be told their baby is ugly”.

 

You mentioned that he’s been with you 3 out of 13 years. Do you have any history on the prior 10 years?

 

Are you the 2nd or the 12th owner?

 

I’m not exaggerating.

 

I know I’m preaching to the choir when I say these birds can be difficult.

 

Regarding chop, I’ve been very clear ever since it became an internet sensation.

 

Bird Chop as far as I’m concerned is a waste of time, money, energy and does little to help a bird’s nutritional needs.

 

Birds don’t want to eat chop for the same reasons humans don’t want to eat bird food.

 

Chop is human food and I’ve done the math, there is not a lot of nutritional value but there is a great deal of waste.

 

Plus most bird food seeds, not pellets are crunchy and fun to manipulate with their beak.

 

Chop is uninteresting to eat.

 

We ourselves cover food dishes with a piece of romaine lettuce and give our budgies lettuce baths and they really enjoy nibbling on it.

 

All our budgies readily accept fresh cucumber slices.

 

Your moluccan cockatoo weighs, just under 2 pounds.

 

How much does a batch of chop weigh?

 

An eight of a pound”, a quarter pound?

 

It’s a quarter of your cockatoo’s body weight, how much are you expecting him to eat?

 

Re: “puree at night, which he only eats with brown rice”.

 

That’s because he likes the rice because of the texture and the carbs it provides.

 

Purée is an unnatural food substrate for birds.

 

Humans eat it with a spoon I don’t know how a bird would assimilate it.

 

The smoothies although all-natural, are very high in sugar.

 

Think about what sugar does to a toddler and you have the same jitters multiplied by about 10 due to a parrots digestive system and how it works.

 

The smoothies are working against you.

 

Feeding soy anything to a bird can easily contribute to aggression.

 

Milk is commonly used to make yogurt.

 

Birds are naturally lactose intolerant because they lack the enzymes to digest any milk-based product.

 

You may be giving your bird tummy aches because of all of this.

 

I would stop the soy yogurt.

 

Mangos and bananas are also high in sugar.

 

Catherine and I are on the Keto diet where we try to achieve almost zero sugar intake, one of the many reasons we don’t eat mangos nor bananas.

 

You can easily zap a couple of tablespoons of generic frozen mixed vegetables for about 20 seconds and serve it semi-frozen.

 

If he doesn’t like that, try serving warm vegetables.

 

He’s obviously a sugar junkie so start with peas which have a relatively high amount of sugar making it more palatable.

 

You’re also not making his food fun.

 

Your serving food to him and not making him work for anything.

 

I would advocate set up foraging stations where you layer a small box with some regular commercially available food like Higgins Safflower Gold Parrot or Hagen Tropimix Large Parrot.

 

Cover the bird food with toy parts and make them pick through the toy parts in order to get to the food.

 

I would also offer other foods in a bowl mounted next to the pellets to give him something more interesting to eat.

 

Big birds like moluccan cockatoos all should have a large “Little Tykes” style toy chest filled with all sorts of benign toys like lightweight bowling ball and pins.

 

Stuff that can be knocked over and or grabbed with one of his zygodactyl feet.

 

I’ve seen simple red Solo cups keep the cockatoo occupied for 10 minutes as they like to hear the echo of their voice from inside.

 

Last but far from least and probably one of the most important things you can do for your bird is to add full spectrum lighting no more than 6 inches away over his cage.

 

The lamp should be on a timer to provide 12 hours of light and 12 hours of darkness.

 

He should be in the cage when the light comes on and when it goes out. He does not have to be in the cage the entire time.

 

This helps synchronize his circadian rhythms which are offset by the constantly changing North American light cycles.

 

Consider 5 minutes of daily clicker training.

 

The activity rewards positive behavior (not biting)  using simple high value treats.

 

That’s the best I can do with the information you gave me.

 

Feel free to carry on a conversation right here in Disqus comments.

 

It’s your lucky day readers.

We happen to have an additional moluccan cockatoo question we would like to answer.

Can you recommend foraging toy for my moluccan cockatoo?

 

4 ideas

 

make your own

buy scrap wood at lumber yard

household items

toy chest

 

Name: laurie

Please help me find the right kind of foraging toy for my moluccan.

 

He is not eating, prolly cause everything is handed to him and hes probably bored … he needs to be able to find the food himself or be challenged, but he just breaks apart and destroys every food foraging toy I’ve gotten him so far .. .any ideas??

 

Hi Laurie,

 

Giving moluccans enough foraging opportunities is a task and self.

 

You can get cheap 2×4’s 8 feet long.

 

Make marks every 4 inches for 24 pieces.

 

Drill a ½ inch hole in the center before cutting which makes it much easier to create toys.

 

Then make your cuts.

 

Four 2×4’s for probably around $10 will give you 96 blocks.

 

If you don’t have access to a chop saw, some lumber yards sell “scraps” in burlap bags or boxes.

 

Just make sure the wood is not treated with any chemicals.

 

You can introduce these pieces of wood by simply placing them in the bottom of the cage or in a designated play area in your home.

 

Making bird toys and providing foraging opportunities are two separate but related tasks.

 

You can easily use something like a phone book hung in the cage.

 

https://www.windycityparrot.com/free-diy-c-630_341/free-bird-toy-phone-books-p-3416.html

 

Let him have fun with household items like red plastic drinking cups or children’s toys like this video.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gxJ-CDQXI1I

 

Give him or her a play area filled with easily accessible fun stuff is in the video below.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tRsfOGJ5lZg

 

Place treats and food in a box and cover it with toy parts he has to remove to get the food.

 

This video is great for explaining how to get your bird to forage.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DgLd5nUR55Q&t=41s

 

Our Senegal looks for treats in between business cards in boxes on my desk.

 

https://videos.files.wordpress.com/aUOBpFrD/27156020_337537610104766_320125514583212659_n_hd.mp4

 

Hope that helps

 

Best mitchr

 

That was amazing for you to write back Mitch, thank you so much.

I am signing up for whatever you’ve got.

 

But I’m afraid your plastic cup idea is the reason I’m in this mess…

It’s from playing with plastic toys:(( he ingested a piece of plastic and I’m on my way tomorrow to what I’m sure will be a $5000 plus bill.

 

I just pray he will be OK.

 

Then if he is, I’m either going to have to quit my job or figure out something to keep him busy because he LOVES plastic pens eyeglasses and taking apart measuring tapes etc. I can’t let him get near plastic again.

 

I have no idea what I’m gonna do because the only other thing he likes to do is take a part screws and bolts and washers etc. but they’re usually treated as well right?

 

He never takes a sideways glance at wood.

 

But I guess it’s a whole new ballgame now so I’m going to have to get creative with it.

 

I will definitely be checking in with you guys on a regular basis and looking forward to the emails I get from you.

 

Thanks so much again.

Laura

 

It’s unlikely that your bill will be $5000 because if the damage was that serious you would be consulting with an emergency veterinarian as we speak.

 

My Spidey sense tells me ingesting plastic is not the issue I’m just not sure because I don’t have enough information. Please let me know.

 

re:  “the only other thing he likes to do is take a part screws and bolts and washers etc. but they’re usually treated as well right?”

 

Something you may consider is going to one of the big box home improvement stores like Lowe’s, Home Depot, Menard’s or even your local Ace or True Value.

 

Go to their nut and bolt hardware section and buy large STAINLESS STEEL nuts, bolts and washers, then put them in a toy box for the bird to interact with.

 

Introducing stainless steel will ensure that your bird will not have to deal with any negative chemical reactions to metal.


The only prep you may have is hand washing and drying the items as they may have oil on them.

 

I confirmed that you are on our Sunday birdie brunch mailing list which will keep you up-to-date with the most relevant solutions to captive bird care.

 

Feel free to send us video of your bird interacting with whatever when ever he interacts with something so we can better assess his needs.

 

Please let us know how it went at the vets – and if you need our help keeping them honest.

Mitch

 

You are amazing. I may have to move to Chicago.

 

I promise I won’t say anything to anybody but do you work energetically with animals?

 

That’s what MY Spidey Sense tells ME!!

 

Stainless steel nuts and bolts is EXACTLY what I’m gonna do. I had it in my mind, but I told myself that such a thing didn’t exist.

 

As far as the vet visit tomorrow,

 

I’ve decided to cancel.

 

That, and the fact that tube feeding is what killed my last cockatoo and I think that’s the prescribed procedure for plastic in the stomach unless they feel the need to operate.

 

I’m going to go with my Spidey Sense, and look for a vet in NYC.

 

A two hour Drive. but this is my lifetime companion 🙂

Laura

 

Interesting, I would advocate that you keep your appointment with Dr. Hess.

 


Tell her I said “hello”.

 

She is not only in private practice but as a spokesperson for Zupreem bird food a national and internationally recognized brand.

 

All eyes are watching her and any misdiagnosis would be a social media calamity for her and her bird food brand.

 

I like her because she is one of those people where the zygodactyl foot meets the perch or in lay terms “where the rubber meets the road”.

 

She’s experienced, articulate and knowledgeable.

 

Anyone else you choose is a “best guess”.

 

re: “That, and the fact that tube feeding is what killed my last cockatoo and I think that’s the prescribed procedure for plastic in the stomach unless they feel the need to operate.”

 

Your bird has two stomachs, have we determined and at what point the plastic was found?

 

If you decide to continue with the visit asked Dr. Hess if you are able to make a video with your smart phone of the examination and subsequent testing.

 

This is better than pulling answers out of a hat.

written by mitch rezman
approved by catherine tobsing

Follow up 10/09/18

Thank you for your time and kind answer! My guy is over 2 pounds, (he’s a huge moluccan) 977 grams at last weighing…and I am kind of the third owner…if you count the breeder, then the first owner, then me.

 

Distraction is a great idea but once he’s got it into his head he wants to bite and charge at me, (he also charges the cat but she’s fast) I have to try to distract him in many ways and often end up eventually disappearing upstairs so he has to come looking, getting him with a towel, or turning on the vacuum cleaner, which makes him chase that instead of me. 🙂

 

He’s just so big and dominant at times!

 

Hi Audrey

 

Sorry for the problems you are having.

 

This scenario is not uncommon with Moluccans

 

I don’t recommend this a lot but I think we have to take a couple of extreme measures.

 

First of all I am a huge advocate of keeping birds flighted.

 

If the bird is attacking you from above it’s time to clip his or her wings until we get into a program that I’m an outline for you.

 

Wing clipping won’t neutralize them in any way there is no physiological connection between clipped wings and hormonal activity but it will reduce the dive bombing.

 

Were going to take an extreme yet benign measure using light therapy.

 

Let’s lock him in the cage for seven days or 168 hours.

 

Regular food and water, cover the cage at night but the bird stays under the light (assuming you’ve installed on by now) for the whole week.

 

We are resetting your bird’s circadian rhythm.

 

It’s broken.

 

The inconsistent light cycles here in North America do an enormous amount of harm to our birds hormonally and provide stress points that as humans we see as well with SAD  disorder in the winter.

 

Please let us know if these ideas help.

 

best

 

mitchr

Author:

He's handled a 1000 birds of numerous species when they would visit their monthly birdie brunch in the old Portage Park (Chicago, IL) facility. The one with the parrot playground. Mitch has written and published more than 1100 articles on captive bird care. He's met with the majority of  CEO's and business owners for most brands in the pet bird space and does so on a regular basis. He also constantly interacts with avian veterinarians and influencers globally.

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