9 Essentials For Having a Cockatoo Roam Free in Your House

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 If you let your bird spend a TON of time out of its cage, like I do with my goffins cockatoo Boo, you will need a few things to keep your sanity.  I use the term “free range cockatoo” because Boo spends the majority of his time out of the cage and is practically a “house bird” (except he goes in his cage when I am out for an extended period of time or when in his sleeping cage at bedtime). The phrase also makes me LOL. Items on my list seem to fall under the cleaning and home preservation categories.

Here are some products I have and use, or wish I had:

  1. A good vacuum cleaner, for carpeted areas. Right now, I am using a Eureka which clogs every five minutes. It sort of does the job. I am thinking that the Hoover F5918-900 SteamVac Spinscrub Pet is going to be my next purchase, although Dyson is undoubtedly the leader in pet vacuums. In the past, I’ve had great luck with a shop-vac, but they are rather ugly… and if you’re like me then you won’t want to put the vaccuum away since you’ll just be using it again in a few hours.
  2. A good floor cleaner, for non-carpets! I use just a regular 10 dollar mop from Walmart with a scrubby thing on it.
  3. As far as cleaners go, it’s important that they be non-toxic, especially if your bird is likely to put it’s mouth where you’ve cleaned (so unless you’re deep cleaning and scrubbing the most untouched corners of your home, and even then, better to be safe than sorry). I am a big fan of Poop Off, especially the one with the nifty brush top. I find that works great on carpets and floors, and the brush top bottle is always out in case of a quick cleanup – which was needed about every 20 minutes until Boo decided to become potty trained 
  4. Pet deterrent! Boo is scared of random inanimate objects, so placing a “scare Boo” where I don’t want him to chew always works… for at least 20 minutes. Boo is pretty stubborn and quickly figures out that NOTHING in the house will eat or hurt him (the downside to raising him so well), so this doesn’t work so well. The best way to prevent damage to my home is to not have whatever I don’t want chewed on out of his reach. This was VERY difficult to do when he was a baby and going through his cord chewing stage, and that was one of the rare misbehaviors where I actively punished him (since he could die if he found a live wire). Unfortunately I made the mistake of punishing him with a spray bottle and to this day he hates being misted/sprayed (but at least he learned really quick not to chew my electronic cords!).

    I still haven’t found a commercially available parrot deterrent that works, but just came across Bitter Apple for Birds and am going to try it. Pepper solutions don’t work, and accomplish the inverse of making him chew MORE, because he loves hot’n’spicey tastes. Oh, and foil worked for about a day, until he found that he could find the tasty door frame by tearing it off.

  5. Newspaper. I put this under where Boo likes to sit alot. It’s free, if you get the local community papers from the coffee shop. If you’re concerned that newspaper on the floor may look like your home is a birdcage, use clear plastic (so it will just look like you’re one of those weird people who keeps everything preserved) or carpet scraps (which can look white trash, so especially don’t use if you’re in a mobile home). I find that putting old bills and mail where Boo likes to poop can look like they’re sort of “accidentally” laying there (leading to the impression that I’m a total slob). Unfortunately, there is no cosmetically pleasing solution to bird poop.
  6. A Parrot Playstand is essential. Currently, I’m using a hanging one that I hacked together from a wire curtain hanger, rope perch, and rope swing. After being scared of the wire hanger for a whole day, Boo decided that it was the place to perch, and now sits in the most uncomfortable looking place and chomps lumps off my textured ceiling.  Hanging playstands are NOT recommended for aggressive or fearful birds. I am really dying for a Manzanita Activity Tree. Being able to take the play stand around the house with you is almost a necessity, and will help control screaming, the amount of poop you have to clean up, and the destruction your house-bird is able to wreak.

    Of course, it’s important to train your bird to actually stay on the play stand, otherwise you’ve wasted a lot of time and possibly money. What has worked with me and Boo: Make it the ONLY place you give your bird “yummies” to (except its cage), and give your bird TONS of attention when it’s playing on the play stand. Having a play stand, even an extra cool and expensive one, is no excuse to give your bird any less attention; it’s only a home-destruction preventative measure.

  7. Things that are “OKAY” for your bird to destroy, possibly disguised as household objects. Commercially available bird toys are great, but can get expensive to replace. Parrots are supposed to destroy toys, and it’s as good for their mental health as crossword puzzles are for people — so don’t complain about the price! If you noticed the toilet paper roll on Boo’s hanging perch… it makes a very cheap fun toy. Boo also likes cat balls, and paper take-home boxes with treats inside of them. Anything that is fun to forage food out of or shred up is usually a winner in my home. One of Boo’s favorite pet-store toys is a Parrot Pinata – he loves to chew this relatively affordable toy up!
  8. Treats also are essential, especially if you want your bird to stay on its playstand, or not chew up other things in your home. Boo loves pasta, pizza, and eggs. I am sort of a health-nut, and so he often eats out of my bowl of soy milk and wholegrain cereal. Due to that the vet recently chided me to have him on a 70% parrot diet (for good reason, since there has been a ton of recent research into the dietary needs of parrots and cockatoos),  I’ve been buying more of his yummies from the pet section rather than the human section. Lafebers Avi-Cakes for Parrots are Boo’s all time favorite, and are good to hide in paper towel tubes and other places to encourage foraging and keep him entertained. Treats also often double as toys 
  9. … that is it, as far as actual products I use or want to use with my goffins cockatoo! The last essential for having a house bird is bonding with your companion and giving it a ton of attention so that it thinks that you are the guru in what is fun and popular. Spending time to redirect destructive behavior to more acceptable objects is a must, as is convincing your bird that its toys and treats are WAY more cool than the boring ol’ pens, computers, and electronics that you have elsewhere in the home.
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Source by Crystal Kelly

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