There are many thousands of sulphur crested cockatoos being kept as family pets throughout Australia. The majority
of them are confined to the standard "cocky cage". Cockatoos are extremely intelligent and affectionate birds. Accounts of their lifespan
vary widely but on average they live about as long as people. This means that most of them survive until 65, some live well into
their 80's, and the occasional bird will live beyond 100 years. Wild cockatoos spend a great deal of time on the ground, digging holes
and eating grass roots and seeds. Imagine these birds spending their entire life locked in a cage with a single perch, unable
to stretch their wings, unable to fly, not allowed to dig. It is no wonder that many of them bite any fingers that come too close
to the bars. This picture shows a standard cocky cage, 57cm square and 73cm high with a metal floor and a perch that is far too narrow
for a large bird. One of the birds that was brought to us spent 35 years in this cage and did not come out once. We cut the side out
of the cage and left it in the aviary in case he needed it but from the first day he never went near it again.
At Long Grass Nature Refuge we have a 12m x 9m x 4m aviary that houses 5 cockatoos who have all been brought to us as "unwanted"
pets. They range in age from 27yrs to 55yrs and with one exception are unable to fly after years confined to a little cage. We built
this aviary originally as a rehab facility for injured wild cockatoos but over the years we have acquired the current unreleasable
group. These guys are extremely happy where they live now. There is a flock of more than a dozen wild birds that come down to visit
every morning and evening and with no neighbours for miles in any direction the birds can screech and carry on to their hearts content.
The aviary has several trees and a grassy dirt floor and has perches connected all the way round to make life easy for birds who have
forgotten how to fly. Twice a day they get seed and fresh fruit and vegetables and they have plenty to keep them time occupied, just
watching the passing parade of birds and animals on the outside.
Case History #2 Charlie Girl
Charlie girl came to us in november 2009 aged 55 years. Her owner had died and the children gave
her to WildCare with instructions to "put him down" if they couldnt find a home. She had a hernia the size of a chickens egg
and was taken in by a lady who later found her suburban back yard was not suitable for a large noisy bird and passed her on to us.
She is the most affectionate bird we have ever had, and most of them are pretty affectionate. We had the hernia operated on 30th december
2009 and she is very happy to be spending a couple of weeks inside with people at her beck and call. In this picture, taken a few
weeks before the operation, the hernia is visible between her legs. By the time of the operation it had nearly doubled in size.
Case History #1 Charlie
Charlie was a very old cockatoo even when he arrived at Long Grass. He had the sweetest nature but had
been treated quite badly. His feathers were ragged and brittle through years of poor diet and he was crippled with arthritis from
being confined to a small cage. He lived on for many years at Long Grass befor finally succumbing to the "call of the wild".