The Goffin Cockatoo

Goffin Colony Notes

Personality Profile

Goffins are smart, creative, mischievous, quick, and very naughty! I think, they should come with a warning label. They are like a Jack Russel Terrier with wings. Because they are a small Cockatoo many people mistakenly assume they are easier to manage then the big Cockatoos. They are agile flyers and utilize every square inch of their space. Toys are important because they get bored easily. Its easy for them to get bored in our homes, and with us.

My first Cockatoo is a Goffin. She was an impulse buy and I had no way of knowing how this tiny little feather picked creature would change my life. I would have never guessed; such a big personality could be contained in such a tiny body.

Aggression Challenges

The Goffins drive me crazy because, if there is trouble brewing, they are silent. The other colonies I can hear trouble escalating.  They will be great for months and then without warning, they will start chasing an unwilling bird around the flight. It isn’t unusual for them to play an innocent game of tag your it. They are very agile flyers. I will catch a glimpse of a tumbling Goffins on the ground. Two birds will hold feet, with wings out, in a hugging/ Dracula pose and roll around, face to face……while rolling like a basketball. It’s the weirdest thing to witness. And it lasts long enough, for me to run in and pull them apart! They do all this without making a peep. I am surprised they don’t hurt each other. Occasionally, I will find one of them with a small wound on the lower leg. Not a serous injury. And that is my clue, there are “issues” in the Goffin colony. I suspect this type of aggression is a game of tag gone too far.

Unless I get close, its hard to tell one Goffin from another. So, its hard to spot the aggressor. Of course, if I am standing close they all look innocent. Nope wasn’t me! For several years in a row I had to clip their wings, something I hate to do but, it was for safety. As soon as they were clipped, the mood instantly changed and they all gave me a look, wasn’t me……it was him. The time out method that works on the other Cockatoos, doesn’t work well for Goffins.

wasn't me !
Wasn't me and she was sleeping

Because the Goffins are so naughty and sneaky, I am extra cautious when introducing new birds. The new  birds are always excited to see other Goffins. The colony is really sweet when I am watching but, they will do naughty practical jokes on the new bird when I’m not there. For example; one of the Goffins will tip toe up to the new bird, make cute little head tilts, giving the impression that he wants to be friends. Then just when the new bird feels comfy, the naughty one will lunge with wings and crest up……the Goffin equivalent of BOO. It scares the new bird. And the naughty bird always looks pleased. Now, if it was the same Goffin practical joker every time, I could remove that bird while a new bird is acclimating. Of course, it’s not that simple, they rotate.

Over the years I have on occasion, moved birds from one enclosure to another, musical colonies. I have tried to position the smaller Cockatoo species close to each other.  I also have tried to, cluster the more active species near each other. When I am not watching, they will do naughty practical jokes on the new bird. For example; one of the Goffins will tip toe up to the new bird, make cute little head tilts, giving the impression that he wants to be friends. Then just when the new bird feels comfy, the naughty one will lunge with wings and crest up……the Goffin equivalent of BOO. It scares the new bird. And the naughty bird always looks pleased with himself. Now, if it was the same Goffin, I could remove that bird while a new bird is acclimating. Of course, it’s not that simple, they rotate.

I have this issue in only 2 Cockatoo colonies, Goffin and Umbrella. They use the exact same practical joke techniques too! Their colonies are not very close so, I don’t think they are imitating each other.

The second practical joke; They will wait until the new bird is just about to fall asleep……and someone will do a fly by to knock the new bird off their perch. The poor new bird wakes, half way down and bounces off the wood chips on the ground. The new bird is shocked and wondering what happened. And the naughty bird, is quite pleased with himself. Again, they all look alike unless I’m about 20 feet away.

Once the new bird is settles in, they get along great. I haven’t been able to find a pattern about what birds are going to be readily accepted and those who will be going through a hazing. Because aggression is usually seen in the males, you would think females would be an easier introduction.  That’s not the case. When I have an introduction in Goffin or Umbrella colonies, I can’t get anything done around. I need to hover close to the colony, in case I need to step in. We charge $1,500. as a babysitting fee. We have considered moving the Goffins into another location but, their enclosure is in the center of the Sanctuary where I can keep my eye on them.

The Cockatoo Rescue and Sanctuary was established in 1992

Photo Above: Tanimbar Island home of the Goffin Cockatoo. I can only imagine how the Goffins terrorize the residents.

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