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About the Collection
When I was 8 years old, I walked into a pet store with my dad and siblings to pick up supplies for our African Grey, and by the time we left, our lives had been completely upended by this quirky white fluff ball of a bird that seemed hell-bent on removing all of the buttons from every patron’s baseball cap (including my dad’s). That was the day we met Martini. He’d been in the pet store for a few months at this time, a little over a year old, after being relinquished to the store upon the death of his first parront.
At the time, we knew next to nothing about cockatoos, but felt confident in our ability to care for Marini given our experience with other parrots. I cannot emphasize enough just how wrong we were. After Martini acclimated to his new home, the noise started. Now if you haven’t experienced a cockatoo’s scream in person, in close quarters, it’s difficult to capture how painful and distressing the screams can be. They reach a decibel range comparable to a jet engine, easily causing hearing damage, and when they get started they can go for HOURS. In the wild, cockatoos commune in large flocks. In the morning and evening they flock call to find each other and their mates. Every morning and evening. Over the next few years, my father in particular became quite cruel in how he chose to manage Martini’s screaming. He’d often spray him with a bottle on stream until Martini was doused and shaking, cold and afraid, in the corner of his cage. As a result, he began to develop compulsive behaviors and pluck his feathers.
What’s more, we didn’t know that petting a bird anywhere below the head can be sexually stimulating and result in a frustrated, hormonally aggressive companion. Martini loves under the wing pets… a little too much 😅. As a result of years of frustrating stimulation, he now has to receive hormonal implants to help curb his increasingly aggressive hormonal outbursts.
To make matters worse, we also gave him a pretty healthy supply of sunflower seeds (aka bird crack) when he was younger. High seed diets, especially in longer-lived species, often results in fatty liver disease and heart disease. This past year Martini was diagnosed with a heart murmur and takes regular medication for heart disease. He’s only 18 years old. A healthy ‘too can live into their 40s-60s, and as such need to be treated as life-long companions.
I could go on for awhile about the biting and destructive behaviors of ‘toos as well, but I think you probably get the point.
Needless to say, when we got Martini, we really had no idea what were doing, and as a result his quality of life and health have suffered. Cockatoos are one of the most difficult and dangerous exotic pets available for purchase. As such, they are also the most rehomed, abandoned, and neglected animal available on the market. Many rescues and sanctuaries won’t even take in males because of their aggressive tendencies. The internet, unfortunately, has resulted in a plethora of adorable and funny parrot videos that people fall in love with, encouraging them to purchase these vulnerable animals without adequate understanding of their needs and difficult to handle behaviors.
All of my life I’ve fought for Martini. He is my best friend and I will never not regret the harm that befell him as a result of my family’s care. For this reason, I am using my platform to help educate new parronts, or those considering adopting/rescuing a ‘too with information that is crucial for the health and well-being of their feathered companion. Please take our story to heart and learn from our mistakes. As difficult as Martini can be, I wouldn’t change a thing about him, and I hope to spend many more years with my tyrannical marshmallow.
The Cockatoo Squad
Learning to love and provide for some of the neediest, craziest, loudest, and most destructive feathered tyrants.
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