The Red-vented Cockatoo Alive and Well in Buda, Texas


Across the United States there are many smaller, private breeders: these breeders may not appear at conferences very often, and many don't advertise their existence in the local newspaper. One such breeder is Bobbi Ryder, of Buda, Texas.

If you get to visit Bobbi's collection, you won't see hundreds of cages full of the many species of parrots commonly kept in aviculture; you'll only see Red-vented Cockatoos (Cacatua haematuropygia), and plenty of them. Bobbi is a specialty breeder who took an interest in this little cockatoo in 1990. She has been collecting her breeding stock and rearranging pairs for many years in hopes that she could bolster the dwindling population of this species in captivity.

 The Red-vented Cockatoo is now very rare in captivity and is disappearing fast in the wilds of the Philippine islands. The species is listed on Appendix I of CITES, the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species, and international commercial trade in Red-vented Cockatoos is prohibited with very few exceptions.

Success with Red-vented Cockatoos does not come easy and many find them frustrating to say the least. These small cockatoos can be very aggressive; mate annihilation is common and is probably the number one impediment to successful breeding in captivity. Some believe that hand-fed males are the only guilty ones, but the truth is that wild-caught males and even parent-fledged males can, and often do, kill their mates. Bobbi has learned that just because a pair has produced young together does not necessarily mean that they are compatible. Close observation of pairs is a never-ending job for the specialist in this species, even established breeding pairs may need to be broken up and re-paired to keep the peace.

After many years of sporadic success, Bobbi had her best year ever in 2005. Seven baby Redvented Cockatoos were raised. In 2006, she raised six more. What was the factor that bolstered their productivity? Well, that would be a difficult question to answer. Eventually, two pairs laid fertile eggs and unrelated chicks were reared. By using surrogate incubation and artificial incubation, the past two years may be the beginning of a very good upward trend in this species' existence in captivity.

Set Up: The standard set-up of Oaliforniaoor tslogelcstyle cages was used. Pairs were placed in cages about eight feet in length and given the standard grandfather style nestbox measuring about thirty inches deep. Summer temperatures in central Texas can reach over 100 degrees while winters often include several hard freezes. In order to protect her pairs in these extremes, Bobbi has housed her birds in an enclosed aviary in an area that is shaded in the summer and receives sunshine in the winter. The facility is wrapped in plastic from November 15th to February 28th, and misting sprayers, controlled by timers aid in cooling in the summer. The birds love the water and cling to the ides of the cage in direct contact with the water source, bathing and preening. Pairs are allowed to see each other and to vocalize to each other during the off breeding season but visual dividers are hung between the cages just before the breeding season begins. Aggression is dealt with by temporary tirneouts DNhere the male is removed from the cage for a few days, and then placed back again after receiving a pedicure and having his wings clipped. He is not returned until he has had time to calm down. One of the unique practices that Bobbi has experimented with is allowing her most productive females their choice of mates in the off breeding season. Some have re-committed to their former mates and the most productive female has opted for 3 different mates in years past, each resulting in offspring. This occurs in a 28 x 14 foot flight where extra males and juvenile potential pairs are housed and allowed to socialize.