Cockatoos need stimulation to be happy and healthy. Boredom can lead to depressive behavior like feather plucking. And without an outlet for all that energy, they can easily become jittery and aggressive.
There’s a wide selection of toys for cockatoos. Avoid small toys, or anything with small parts—pieces can break off and become choking hazards. In fact, it’s best to ask the pet store attendant to point you directly to the items designed for medium to large birds.
You should buy many toys, but don’t place these in the cage at the same time. You’ll overcrowd the cage. Cockatoos don’t like being cramped, and they may get confused if they’re presented with too many choices. You should rotate toys instead, keeping 3 in the cage, and changing 1 or 2 at the end of each week. Be sure the toys provide different kinds of entertainment. For example, have a chewing toy and a climbing toy. You should also save up for a play gym. It’s like a Disneyland for birds, with all its different play options. It also allows your pet to have time outside the cage.
Cockatoos like paper toys. The texture reminds them of feathers, and they’ll have a lot of fun tearing these up, preening them and even attacking them. Another option: mop toys. These toys help prevent the birds from over-preening themselves, and can help curb nervous feather plucking.
You can also buy climbing toys like ladders swings, and plastic rings. Ropes are always a hit; just make sure they’re made of a material that won’t shred. Loose strings or frayed ends can catch the cockatoo’s beak or claws.
Cockatoos will also enjoy sound toys. Good examples are bells (make sure there are no small holes that can trap their beaks), horns, or squeaky toys. You can find many of them in pet stores and baby stores.
You should also get several perches of different heights. Leave enough space between each so the bird can stretch its wings and comfortably hop from one to the other. While you can buy perches at the pet store, the best ones are branches from your own backyard. Use the ones that are thick enough for your bird to sit on them without the claws curling inward, and soak them in a mild bleach and water solution to remove traces of pesticides.
Clean all chew toys after use, and check all toys periodically for any broken edges or loose parts.