ways around Goffin Cockatoo mating behavior

by Amanda

I have received advice in the past regarding how to avoid parrot mating behavior. We never had the problem with our African Grey but we now have a Cockatoo and I can't remember the exact advice we were given. I'm hoping you can help.

We were told that a way to 'trick' them into not realizing it's mating season by adjusting the # of hours they're exposed to light. I hope this makes sense and I'm remembering it correctly because it was advice from a reputable sourse.

Have you heard of this method and how many hours of complete darkness should they have to achieve this?

She's been showing mating behavior for about a week or two now and for the sake of our other birds and ourselves I would like to get her back 'out of' thinking it's mating season.

Any advice would help but I would like to know if the amount of light they're exposed to really works. The source said that way they don't realize the season change as much (as they don't sense the days getting longer.

Thank you!

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Feb 18, 2010
ways around Goffin Cockatoo mating behavior
by: Linda

The conversation about the light was probably from a breeder who was controlling mating behavior of pairs together when they needed to rest instead of nest. It does work for that, and probably would not work as well for normal mating behavior with a lone bird. One to two times a year, the hens go through this phase where they are wanting to mate and nest, and their behavior can even get a little nippy. Some understanding is necessary here and with understanding of the behavior, comes giving the hens some space during these periods. They usually don't last very long.

How the light idea works, is first of all, birds have to have full spectrum lighting over their cages as the light coming through windows barely has 3 colors for plants, and does not have the full spectrum birds need to thrive. It has nothing to do with incandescent and/or fluorescent light bulbs being on or off. It also has nothing to do with putting your birds in a dark place which will drive them crazy.

Years ago, I had a Scarlet Macaw hen who twice a year would become a monster on two big feet. When I'd clean her cage, she'd pull out hanks of hair leaving me a little bald/bleeding on the top front unless I wore a cap during cage cleaning. I called it Jeckel/Hyde behavior, and would give her space during these times.

If your Goffin is trying to get the other birds to mate with her, move her cage a little farther away from them and not let them play together until she is done with her mating ritual. Parrots need about 12 hours of darkness in which to sleep and 12 hours of full spectrum. This is not a hard and fast rule, just somewhere in there. They do need darkness to sleep and should be in bed by 9PM every night and away from people, tv and other noise. You can lessen the hours with the full spectrum, and she may calm down some and stop the behavior sooner. Otherwise, just allow her to be her and feel what she needs to feel. There is no tricking a bird because they are actually smarter than we are in many ways and are wild creatures through and through. This includes ALL handfed baby parrots all the way up to old wild caught ones in captivity. They are not domesticated and will not become so for hundreds of more years if even then. Acceptance of this fact is required when working and living with parrots.

Hope this helps some, and for her own mental and emotional health, it is suggested you work with her when she gets like this and use the full spectrum light to help control her nervousness.Shreddable toys or soft wood toys she can destroy may also help her out. If she begins to lay eggs, please keep an eye on her as egg binding is a life threatening situation. (If you are feeding 80% Harrison's you don't have to worry about egg binding.) If things get unbearable, please take her to an Avian Vet and have her checked out.

Thanks for writing,

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