Biology and breeding of the Major Mitchell’s Cockatoo. PART III

January 20th, 2016 | by LubosTomiska
Biology and breeding of the Major Mitchell’s Cockatoo. PART III

Read also the first and second part of this article:

Biology and breeding of the Major Mitchell’s Cockatoo. PART I

Biology and breeding of the Major Mitchell’s Cockatoo. PART II


In Loro Parque, Major Mitchell’s Cockatoos (Cacatua leadbeateri) are being fed as follows (Reinschmidt, 2007):

1)Out of breeding season:

Morning – mixture of vegetables and fruits which always includes apples, pears, carrots and lettuce. The rest of offered fruits depends on seasonal availability. Mostly also papayas, bananas, peppers, oranges, cucumbers or grapes are added. The mixture is dusted with mineral powder Korvimin.

Afternoon – dry seed mix „Australian Loro Parque“ from Versele Laga.


2)During the breeding season:

Morning – the same as out of the breeding season but together with fruit and vegetable mix birds also get „Parrot Dinner Mix“ from Versele Laga which has been boiled for 45 min. Therefore seeds soften and are better digestible for chicks.

Afternoon – „Australian Parrot Mix“ + corn



Major Mitchell’s Cockatoos in Loro Parque (c) Lubomir Tomiska


Besides that in Loro Parque Major Mitchell’s Cockatoos get a piece of cake of following composition:

1kg corn flour

1kg wheat flour

1kg soya flour

2kg grated carrot

1kg ground beef meat

12 eggs

90g baking powder

30g calcium powder

100g sea salt

5 l water

The cake is baked for 60min at 150°C. It’s being fed every second day. This amount is enough to feed 200 parrots. During the breeding season birds get a piece of size 3 x 3 x 2cm per bird, 3-4 times a week. Out of the breeding season twice a week.

As for dosage of seed mixture, it’s recommended to give 20g of seeds per bird and day.



Cockatoo males are well known for their aggressive behaviour during breeding season which can lead to injury or even death of the female. Most common solutions of this issue are: clipping of wings, special aviary design, nestboxes with more entrance holes, beak bisecting or hormonal implants.

According to Reinschmidt (2007) hand feeding of this species is not difficult. However, the necessary condition of artificial incubation is right humidity. It should range between 40-45% because this species is found in arid areas.

When choosing the right nestbox, an Australian breeder Ben Quist recommends to use a narrow log with inner diameter 25-30cm. When he used a larger nest then birds laid eggs, incubated them properly but chicks have never survived for more than 4 days. In his facility, Major Mitchell’s Cockatoos can nest twice a year when take the first chicks for handfeeding. In Loro Parque this species nest in nest boxes of dimensions 60 x 30 x 30cm with entrance hole of size 10cm.



Major Mitchell’s Cockatoo at Australian facility (c) Lubomir Tomiska


Reinschmidt compared development of parent raised and hand raised chicks in his PhD thesis. He found out that chicks which are naturally fed will reach the same weight as the hand fed chicks, eventually. However, at the early phase of development (around 12th day of life) artificially reared chicks are not so well developed as parent raised. The same experience has a Czech breeder Barvik.

Steve Groome described another interesting observation. He bought four birds at the age of one year. He let them choose their partners spontaneously and consequently put these two pairs to adjacent aviaries. However, after 10 years of trying everything possible he wasn’t able to breed them. That’s why Groome decided to sell one pair. A few weeks later, another pair laid eggs and raised three chicks in a nestbox which was present in their aviaries for 10 years! This is an evidence of Rowley‘s and Chapman‘s observation who found out that Major Mitchell’s Cockatoos don’t tolerate any other pairs of the same species around their nest.

Major Mitchell’s Cockatoos can live for 50-60 years. In the Brookfield ZOO there is a male Cookie which is 81 years old. We know about several cases when breeding pairs successfuly nested at the age of 25 years and over.


Availability and price

In Europe the price is over 4500 euro a pair. In Australia this species is common and price ranges between 300 to 400 euro for a pair depending on region.


author: Lubomir Tomiska


Arndt, T. (1990-1996): Lexikon der Papageien, Arndt-Verlag, Bretten.

Brown, D. M., & Toft, C. A. (1999). Molecular systematics and biogeography of the cockatoos (Psittaciformes: Cacatuidae). The Auk, 141-157.

Cameron, M. (Ed.). (2007). Cockatoos. CSIRO PUBLISHING.

del Hoyo, J., Collar, N. J., Christie, D. A., Elliot, A., & Fishpool, L. D. C. (2014). Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World (Vol. 1). Lynx Edition.

Forshaw, J. M. (2010). Parrots of the World. Princeton University Press.

Forshaw, J. M. (2002). Australian Parots. Avi-Trader Publishing

Garnett S.T., Szabo J.K., Dutson G. (2011) The Action Plan for Australian Birds 2010. CSIRO Publishing, Melbourne.

Reinschmidt, M. (2007). Untersuchungen zur Brutbiologie des Inkakakadus (Cacatua leadbeateri) im Loro Parque, Teneriffa (Doctoral dissertation, Universitätsbibliothek Giessen).

Rowley, I., & Chapman, G. (1986). Cross-fostering, imprinting and learning in two sympatric species of cockatoo. Behaviour, 96(1), 1-16.

Rowley, I., & Chapman, G. (1991). The Breeding Biology, Food, Social-Organization, Demography and Conservation of the Major Mitchell or Pink Cockatoo, Cacatua-Leadbeateri, on the Margin of the Western Australian Wheat-Belt. Australian Journal of Zoology, 39(2), 211-261.



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