Red-Vented Cockatoo

Cacatua haematuropygia Phillippines

Also known as the Phillippine cockatoo.

Red-vented cockatoos are small white cockatoos with a short white recumbent crest. The under-tail coverts are red and the beak is almost white. with a small pink patch between the eyes and nares. They may be confused with the goffin’s cockatoo. The underside of the flight feathers are yellow.

Red-vented cockatoos have become extremely rare and are considered the most endangered bird in the Phillippines other than the Phillippine eagle. The range is now limited to a few of the smaller islands including Palawan which is it’s last stronghold. Wild populations are declining due to habitat destruction, trade (now prohibited) and Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease. The species is heavily dependent upon coastal mangrove but also found in lowland forests. They feed on seeds, nuts, fruits and berries.
Length is 12 to 13 inches. Weight is 220-350 grams. Males are generally larger than females and have larger heads and beaks.

Red-vented cockatoos can live up to 40 years. Precise data on life span of the average Red-vented cockatoo is poorly documented. Many secumb to disease or injury rather than living for their potential lifespan.

Red-vented cockatoos can be difficult to breed in captivity. Wild caught pairs may take years to adapt and become reliable breeders. Breeding age can be as young as 2 years but due to difficulty in adaptation of first generation birds, few captive birds are being bred. Breeding life span is not precisely known.

Personality - Red-vented cockatoos are active, high-energy birds. They are gentle, playful and very affectionate. Due to their critical conservation status, available birds should be utilized for breeding rather than pets.

Activities – Red-vented cockatoos are inquisitive and love to chew objects in their surroundings but are not as destructive as other cockatoos. They should always be provided with toys, blocks of wood or branches that they can chew. They need to have some space for flight.

Dietary needs - Cockatoos should be fed a formulated (pelleted or extruded diet) as a basis for good nutrition. Kaytee Exact is an excellent choice for their staple diet. The diet should be supplemented with fresh fruits and vegetables daily to add variety and psychological enrichment. Feed approximately 1/4 cup of Kaytee Exact and 1/4 cup of fresh fruits and vegetables daily. Monitor food intake. Overfeeding leads to pickiness, selective feeding and wasteful throwing of food.

Special requirements - Adult and juvenile red-vented cockatoos are efficient in utilization of calories and are picky eaters. Try to ensure that the food that they eat is nutritious and avoid feeding large quantities of high fat seeds such as sunflower and safflower. Vitamin supplements are not needed for birds that are eating a formulated diet.

Identification - All companion and breeding birds should be individually identified to assist in recovery if lost and assist in maintenance of medical and genealogical records. Many breeders apply closed legs bands when chicks are young. While they present a slight risk of entrapment closed bands are preferable to no identification, especially for breeding birds.
Microchips, which can be implanted into the muscle or under the skin, are a reliable means of identification but require electronic readers to verify identification. Tattoos may be used but often fade or become illegible with time. Foot prints may have some application in identification.

Sexing Red-vented cockatoos can often be sexed by eye color when mature but the eye color is not reliable. The eyes of a mature female are red while the eyes of the male are dark brown or black. Juveniles of both sexes will have brown eyes. Sex of breeders should be confirmed by surgical sexing or DNA sexing.

Housing - Red-vented cockatoos are very active and should be provided the largest cage that space and budget allows. Ideally the cage should provide room for flight. Durable cage construction is not as critical as Red- venteds are not such strong chewers. Many are adept at opening cage latches. Locks or escape proof latches may be necessary on cages. The cage should be as large as possible but must allow at least enough room to fully spread the wings. Ideally the bird will have an outdoor cage as well to allow play time in the fresh-air and sunlight.

Breeding – Red-vented cockatoos can be difficult to breed in captivity. In North America Red-vented cockatoos breed predominantly in the winter and spring. Clutch size is typically 2 to 3 eggs. One inch by one inch by 12 or 14-gauge welded wire is a good choice for cage construction. A suggested size is 4 feet wide by 4 feet tall by 6 feet long suspended 4 feet above the ground or floor.

Nest Box - Double entrance boxes are often used to reduce the chance of the male trapping the female in the box. Grand-father style wooden boxes can be used and red-vents tend to like a deep, narrow nest. Size should be approximately 12” x 12” x 36” or deeper.

Incubation period is approximately 24-26 days. Chicks will usually fledge at approximately 8 to 10 weeks of age. Red-vented cockatoos are relatively easy to hand-rear. Most hand rearing formulas can be used successfully.
Kaytee Exact regular handrearing diet is a good choice.

Male cockatoos frequently become aggressive toward their mates. This problem is especially prevalent in Red-vented cockatoos. Cage construction and management should take into consideration techniques to reduce mate aggression. Clipping the wings of the male prior to the breeding season will help the female to escape in case the male becomes aggressive. Aggressive behavior may occur in compatible breeding pairs.
Red-vented cockatoos are not as noisy as the larger cockatoos however when breeding cockatoos, noise and proximity to neighbors must be considered. If housed outdoors cockatoos often call at night especially during a full moon. In southern states outdoor caging must be protected from opossums to prevent exposure to the parasite Sarcocystis falcatula which can result in a fatal lung infection.

Common diseases and disorders

  • Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease (Common in wild birds and has devastated much of the wild population but it is now uncommon in captive populations)
  • Proventricular Dilation Disease
  • Feather-picking
  • Poor eating habits
  • Bacterial and fungal infections
  • Sarcocystis
  • Mate aggression
  • Toxicity, ingestion of metals
  • Chlamydophilia (Chlamydia) infections (psittacosis or parrot fever)

Conservation Status - Critically endangered due to habitat destruction, trade and disease. Red-vented cockatoos are listed on Appendix I on the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. Red-vented cockatoos are relatively uncommon in the United States. International trade requires both import and export permits.