Is there a way of keeping white Cockatoos from invading my backyard?

9 posts / 0 new
Last post
bremer96's picture
Is there a way of keeping white Cockatoos from invading my backyard?


Please don’t judge me but I feed a number of wild birds such as Rosellas, King Parrots, Magpies and Currawongs to name just a few in my backyard. I have noticed the wild birds look extremely undernourished and suffering terribly due to the drought. I’m sure I’m going to get a lot of criticism over this issue but I feel like I’m doing my small part to conserve our native wildlife. Surely I can’t be the only one who feeds the birds


A couple of months ago, a flock of Sulphur-Crested Cockatoos invaded my backyard. As soon as I put out the seed and fruit for my regular wild birds, the white cockatoos appeared out of nowhere and consumed all the food. I’m not joking! They even found and ate the dog biscuits out of the dog bowl. It doesn’t matter what time of the day I put out the food dishes, the cockies hide in the neighbourhood trees watching and waiting for me to leave my backyard. Don’t get me wrong, the cockatoos are beautiful birds with such big personalities and are extremely intelligent but they can be so destructive if you deny them food. They have destroyed my wooden windowsills, plants and tree branches. I’ve tried throwing things at the cockies, yelling and flapping my arms around in the air like a psycho but nothing seems to keep them away.

About a month ago, I noticed one of the Sulphur-Crested Cockies had a badly deformed beak. I felt sorry for it and started feeding it. It only took a week to coach it into the house where I trapped it and then took it to my local vet. I honestly thought the vet would fix its beak and then I could release it. Unfortunately, the vet informed me that the Cockatoo had Beak and Feather Disease (PBFD) and needed to be put down. It was very distressing for me to hear that. This was the first time I had heard about this terrible and debilitating bird disease. I couldn’t believe what the vet had told me. Who would have thought such a disease existed here in Australia. My heart sunk. All I could think about was OMG what about my wild birds? Are they infected to? I immediately stopped feeding my regular birds but the little Rosellas kept calling out to me from the trees. I tried ignoring them, but some of them flew to the back door and sat on the railing for ages waiting for me. I could see they were distress and were calling out even louder than before. I realised then that they needed me and I couldn’t abandon them.

So now I supervise my wild birds but armed with a garden hose to ensure absolutely no cockatoos come anywhere near the food dishes. This process can take hours and it’s extremely time consuming. I’m sure the neighbours think I’m mad sitting in the chair spraying the cockatoos with the hose if they get to close.

I would appreciate if anyone out there has experienced the same and if they can advise a way to scare the cockatoos away for good?

dwatsonbb's picture

Not judging, but articicial feeding is a large cause for the spread of beak and feather disease, for which I don't think ther is a cure. Euthanising that bird may seem cruel, but it may well have saved many, including other species, so in my oinion was the right thing to do. I think if you stop feeding the Sulphur Crested Cockatoos will move on.

Perhaps selective planting of species native to your location will attract more desirable birds.

I have done a bit of wildlife rescue, and unless a creature can be rehabilitated and released it should be euthanaised. It would be cruel to keep a wild animal captive.

Dale Huonville, Tasmania

bremer96's picture

Hi dwatsonbb, Thank you for your comments. I greatly appreciate it :-)

It was only that one Sulphur Crested Cockatoo which I deliberately fed to enable me to capture it and take it to the vet. I never deliberately feed any of the other Sulphur Crested Cockatoos and I do my best to discourage them from my backyard.

I feel gutted that I may have caused the spread of the beak and feather disease to the other wild birds which come to visit my backyard. Yes, I have native plants around my property to encourage the wild birds but due to the drought and the recent hail, the plants and trees are not doing so well.

As of today, I will stop feeding the birds. It makes me sad but I know it’s the right thing to do.

One last question, I have a large birdbath which I clean and fill every day. Do you know if beak and feather disease can be passed on via the birdbath?

dwatsonbb's picture

Hi bremer96, I don't know for sure, but if your cleaning your water bowl everyday it should certainly reduce the chances of disease spread. If the bird bath is not cleaned thoroughly on a regular basis, I would assume it would be a source from which disease can spread. The disease is caused by a virus, which could become resistant to treatments in the same way virus and bacteria mutate in humans to become resistant.

If you only fed the one bird in this way, hopefully you have not assisted in the spread of this awful disease. If the other birds are not sharing a food bowl, then hopefully they are also fine.

We are in difficult times for our wildlife, and I understand your desire to assist, but they can become reliant on food sources which we provide, and when or if for some reason we suddenly stop feeding, then they are potentially in serious trouble.

Many members here encourage the provision of clean fresh water but don't encourage feeding.

Your on the right track by providing native plants for them, but as you say it's becoming harder to keep the garden in good shape without adequate water.

Dale Huonville, Tasmania

Woko's picture

Hi bremer. Thanks for raising this important question & good on you for your thoughtful actions.

I agree very much with Dale's thoughts on this matter & I would add that, in the long term, the birds in your neighbourhood will be best served if you, your neighbours & your council can plant the original species which grew in your locality - assuming you & they haven't already. This vegetation is what the birds have evolved with & provides the most suitable food for them. Sit back with a cold glass of lemonade instead of a hose while you enjoy watching what occurs. For what it's worth, I've noticed that the local species I've planted have survived quite well in the severe drought we're expriencing whereas many of the introduced natives planted by the previous owers of our property have died or are under great stress. So I'm vocal about local.

In bushfire affected areas people who love native birds are faced with a terrible dilemma. Do they tackle the extinction risk by artificially feeding birds & risking some of them catching the dreaded beak & feather disease? Or do they take the non-intervention route & wait to see what happens? This the frightening position we & many of our native birds have been led to due to the large scale destruction of habitat which has occurred.

In the long term, if many people have their way, much of our natural bushland, particularly understorey, will disappear due to frequent burn offs which will deplete the amount of seed & other plant material available for understorey regeneration. These burnoffs will also add to the extinction risk to our wildlife &, perhaps, add weight to the argument for artificial feeding.

I haven't read or seen anything to suggest that birds, particularly parrots, cockatoos & the like, acquire beak & feather disease at bird baths. Adelaide Rosellas, Rainbow Lorikeets, Purple-crowned Lorikeets, Musk Lorikeets & Red-rumped Parrots frequently visit my bird bath & over 33 years I'm yet to see a diseased one. I'm not as fastidious about cleanliness as some folk because I reckon birds deal with some very grotty water holes in the wild but nevertheless I clean it out & replenish the water a couple of times a week unless the water is direly dirty.

Again, great observations & questions, bremer.

AJ Anderson
AJ Anderson's picture
Baboonlady's picture

Get a cat hope this helps i chirped.

Woko's picture

How do you think a cat would help, Baboonlady? 

whitewingedchough's picture

More and more wild birds are coming into towns and suburbs because of drought/fire and feeding wild birds might be the way they survive and thrive in the future, although yes best to grow native trees and shrubs that provide them with natural food.  If you are going to feed native birds, try not to do it day in day out, and ensure the food you are giving them is appropriate.  Also, make sure that any dishes you are using and water receptacles are scrupulously clean. Maybe try seed bombing in your urban area (not in your backyard)-.including sunflower seeds, to provide an occasional source of food and fun for the cockatoos. Would a drone help to keep the cockatoos away? It might scare the other birds too.. 

 and   @birdsinbackyards
                 Subscribe to me on YouTube