Old bird, new tricks

Cocky the cockatoo has a bag of tricks just waiting for him to learn.
By Best Friends Animal Society
Written by David Dickson

Juliet the star-crossed lover once mused whether a rose would smell as sweet if it went by any other name. For Cocky, a greater sulfur-crested cockatoo who just came to the Sanctuary, the very opposite question comes up. If he asks for a cookie ("Cocky wanna’ cookie!"), and even when his caregivers give him something they claim is a cookie, he still knows it isn’t the real deal. To him, the only cookie worthy of the title is an honest to goodness Fig Newton! No worries, eventually he’ll warm up to the healthier version.

Cocky gets a cookie

Cocky is a wild-caught parrot who once lived in the wilds of Australia almost forty years ago. Since that time, he might’ve learned a thing or two about what makes a good snack yet there’s still plenty he hasn’t figured out. For one thing, Cocky doesn’t know how to interact confidently with people.

When his caregivers try to have him step up, Cocky sort of shuts down for a minute or two. It’s scary for him to leave that comfort zone. However, when he finally does step up and his caregivers are holding him, Cocky can relax and interact. Given enough time, he’ll even begin to flap his wings and bob his head a little. No doubt about it, he’s trying.

Wild-caught birds can no longer be brought legally into the United States. Strict laws changed that practice years ago. Even so, there are hundreds of thousands living here legally from before that legislation. There are many good reasons why wild birds should not be brought into captivity. Who knows what sort of life Cocky once lived? The problem is that was so long ago that he really couldn’t adjust back to his old way of life.


That doesn’t mean it’s easy to learn the ropes in this new life, though. Not even after several decades. Lucky for Cocky, he has a whole team of loving caregivers ready to help out. At Best Friends, he will be allowed to progress at his own pace, with loving staff members cheering him on every step of the way. Sooner or later he’s going to realize that everywhere he turns, there’s a new friend cheering him on. After all, it’s never too late to make a new beginning. Welcome!

Photos by Gary Kalpakoff