Australia’s Oldest Cocky

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‘Cocky’ is a 76 year old sulphur crested cockatoo, who has grown up with a human family of six siblings and shows no signs of slowing down.

Cocky came to the family in 1921, at the same time as Charlie Knighton (with whom we filmed our story) was born. There is a special bond between the two. Cocky was taken as an egg from a nest by a friend and given to Charlie’s father. Cocky grew up in Kyogle in New South Wales where the family ran a bakery, and during the day Cocky would venture out on foot to visit various townfolk.

Although never learning to fly, Cocky has enjoyed great freedom, and in earlier years used to take great pleasure in nipping the heels of children, vandalising the washing and imbibing a little too much beer at the local pub. Long thought to be male, it was discovered recently that Cocky is female.

Now retired in Arncliffe, in suburban Sydney, Cocky spends time helping Charlie in the garden (she loves digging) and trying new phrases, such as asking for a cup of tea.

Birds like Cocky

If a bird is raised by hand and is not taught to fly, it fails to develop the necessary flying muscles in its wings. When raised by its mother, a cockatoo is deprived of food as it gets older. The frustration of hunger makes it flap its wings and assists in developing its muscles. It also encourages the bird to leave the nest at the first opportunity. While flight might look effortless, it in fact takes 17 to 22 times the level of energy for a bird to fly, as it does for a bird to walk. Most birds will try to walk as much as they can before resorting to flight. Cockatoos will bond strongly with people that they grow up with, and this will show through body language. Cocky was very close to his first owner, Charlie’s father, and has now directed affections towards Charlie. One way of determining the sex of a cockatoo is looking at its eyes: the male cockatoo has a dark brown to black iris, whereas the female has a light brown to tan iris. Cockatoos are long-lived birds, a factor that should be taken into account if you are considering one as a pet. Cockatoos have been known to live to be more than 100 years old.