Breaking Bad – Cockatoo Style

I have been struggling for a few months on how to write this update.  If you read our first blog post, we shared our excitement of rehoming Juno – a 9 year old medium sized Yellow Crested Cockatoo.  The first month was great as Juno seemed to easily adjust to our home and commuting to the office most days.  We had done research on Cockatoo’s prior to getting Juno – and were thrilled that we had gotten the “perfect” Cockatoo.  Juno was friendly, readily stepped up for almost anyone and was acceptable on the noise meter.

But then – wow!  Don’t know if Juno decided he was safe and could then let out his crazy side or somehow caught an episode on the sly of Breaking Bad.  Around week number 4, Juno decided that Yo was the apple of his eye – ie..his new mate.  With that turn of events, he became focused and obsessed with her.  I could accept that – I knew birds could develop favorites.  What we were not prepared for was Juno turning into “Cujo” (look up the 1983 thriller movie).  If let out of his cage, Juno did not want to play with toys or interact with his flock.  No, he was immediately on a search and destroy mission for me or anyone else who was not his mate.

Juno was relentless.  He would chase, ambush or lunge at me whenever possible.  We have video of him chasing me around the office/shop.  If he could not get me – he would then turn on our Cavapoo Harley who loves everyone.  Trying to be good bird parents, we had placed Juno’s play stand in our living room so he could be near us.  If I entered the room – Juno would stare me down, then begin screaming at ear bleeding levels.  Watching TV together became a challenge, with Juno either getting down and attacking or simply sitting on his stand and attempting to kill via screaming.

We did not get Juno on a whim and thought we did our “due diligence” at the aviary.  We asked the staff as many questions as we could about him, his personality, etc.  We even took in two of our grandkids to see how he would interact with them.  All the staff could or would tell us was that he was being rehomed because his owner was moving and could not take him.  They said he was a great bird, friendly and talked some.  That was it.  Knowing that Cockatoo’s can be noisy, we were impressed that he was quiet and calm in a very noisy aviary.

We wanted to be a forever home, but the final straw for us came when Juno began to go after the grandkids.  At that point, we knew we could not put our family in danger.  Having been bitten hard by Juno, I knew the damage he could inflict – and thinking about that happening to one of our grandkids was something that we would not risk.  The option of locking him in a room just did not seem like a good or fare alternative.

So, after getting Juno at the beginning of the year, in May we made the difficult decision to call the aviary and tell them that we needed to return him.  Much to our surprise, they were not surprised – and even correctly said that he strongly preferred women.  Don’t know if that was just based on the Cockatoo profile – or if they had some history that was not shared.  Regardless, at the end of May we returned Juno.  Even with his antics, it was hard returning him.  We knew in his way; he loved his new home – and we were attached to him.  We also knew, as new bird parents, we probably did some or many things wrong.  But, we also knew that we could not live with him for 40+ years acting as he was and risking the safety of our family.

Looking back, we now know we were taking a major risk taking on a 9 year old Cockatoo rehome.  And while we looked at the aviary’s reviews, we also wish we had dealt with someone we knew better or at least had referrals.  We should have stuck to our research and avoided Cockatoo’s rather than thinking that we found the ideal bird that defies the bread.  We should have pressed for more previous owner info.

Working in the bird business, we have heard of so many stories of people living with incredibly difficult birds and providing loving homes for years or decades.  We have newfound respect and admiration for heroes like that!  We are also not giving up on bird ownership.

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