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The Great Manipulator

Are large ‘toos too smart for their own good?

By Sally Blanchard

It is my opinion that the large cockatoos are the smartest birds in the parrot family. While they may not talk as well as a talented African grey, the ability to speak is not the only criteria for judging intelligence. In animal studies, one of the major indications for intelligence is the attempt to deceive. The idea is that if an animal attempts to deceive another animal, it is an indication that it is aware that it can change the other animal’s behavior. This criterion alone is evidence of a cockatoo’s intelligence.

I do not believe there is any pet bird more capable of manipulating the people in their lives. Unfortunately, the more intelligent a cockatoo is, the more problematic its behavior can be to its caregivers. Our challenge to outsmart them in a way that keeps them intellectually stimulated.

More than any other bird companion, large cockatoos present challenges that require an intuitive and educated caregiver. Cockatoos can be amazing companions for people who understand and strive to meet their emotional and intellectual needs. It is those who don’t take the extra steps to ensure that their cockatoos’ emotional, physical and intellectual needs are met who have the most serious problems.

**For the full article, pick up the June 2008 issue of BIRD TALK**

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