How To Stop An Elenora Cockatoo Plucker And A Screaming Citron Cockatoo

How To Stop An Elenora Cockatoo Plucker And A Screaming Citron Cockatoo

Last Updated on by Mitch Rezman

Good morning, I get your newsletter every Sunday.


We have an elenora cockatoo (aka medium sulfur crested) that we have had for 21 years.


We got her when she was 4 months old.


Within the last two years she has started to yell.


Within the last year it has gotten real bad.

Whether you walk out of the room or you could be sitting in the same room as her, she’ll yell and scream.


We tried just ignoring her, that doesn’t work, we’ve put her in her carrying case and when she starts to quiet down, we’ll take her out and it’s right back to yelling.


We vet tried Prozac to see if that would help it did not.


We just started her on a new medicine and hopefully we’ll get some relief from this screaming and yelling.


The vet said we do have other choices if this doesn’t work. She can be so cute and cuddly when she’s quiet but that is few and far in between now.


The major problem is we live in two family house and the lady upstairs was in her 90s and was so good mainly because she was deaf.


She has passed away and when our landlord finishes remodeling upstairs and a new tenant moves in we may have to give up Hailey if we can’t quieter her down per our landlord.


We know they yell when they play and have loud times during the day. We can’t even leave the house now and she is just screaming.


You can hear her with the windows all closed in the summer is worse.


Our neighbors say open the back window and let her out.


We’ve lived here for 32 years and are close with all our neighbors.


I really hope you can help because it would break our hearts if we had to take her to a place for birds and no we don’t know anyone who would take her.


I’m sure I’ve left other things out.


Thank you in advance for your help or any suggestions. Jane


Hi Jane,


Putting things in perspective, parrots could scream endlessly for 99 million years and no one cared.


Then in 1400 something Alexander the great was given a parakeet (now called the Alexandrine).


From that point forward humans told parrots “you can’t scream like that anymore.”


Here’s some “macro advice:


Your cockatoo’s excessive screaming was caused by a trigger.


As an example, one our customer’s Congo greys started plucking 4 months prior.


The bird’s been with her 17 years.


We talked about possible triggers.


The grey was staying at her mom’s house where her sister lives as well.


Sis thought the bird was bored so she moved the cage in front of a picture window, 4 months earlier – as an example.


This is why we talk about bird cage placement


Lighting is incredibly important. (a topic few vets talk about)


Does the bird have enough toys in its cage?


Are the perches in your cockatoos cage arranged properly?


Your vet can not fix this.


Finally  I think avian veterinarians treating birds with Prozac (which is addictive) Lupron (hormonal) or Haldon (psychotropic) is an admission that they are unable to fix behavioral problems.


I just want to slap the back of their collective heads and ask “what is wrong with you?”


No behavioral courses are taught at veterinary schools.


Have a cup of coffee, sit in a chair while at your elenora’s in cage and out of the birdcage environment.


Then think back about possible screaming parrot triggers that may have occurred in the past 24 months.


Your bird isn’t simply screaming, she’s trying to tell you something.


All you need to do is learn to speak bird.





Away Form: Started Oct 14 2018


My 35 year old Citron Cockatoo (the smallest of the yellow-crested cockatoos) started chopping feathers and chewing on them 1 yr ago.


Citron-crested Cockatoo - Jurong Bird Park, Singapore Author Doug Janson


Dr. Says behavioral.


I am not sure.


Your opinion please


Name: Lisa Peterson


Dear  Lisa


Something in your birds life changed to cause this.


Did you move the cage?


Have a new pet or man or someone new in the house?


Did you change your job?


Are your hours different?


New pictures on the walls, new window treatment?


SOMETHING happened.


Please think on it and let us know.


Thank you


Dear Catherine


Thank you for responding.


Jo Jo was diagnosed with zinc poisoning from paint on his cage.  


I had to get Stainless steel cage after 30 years in his cage.


He still is trying to adjust.


I appreciate your help.




Dear Lisa


Ah, yes, that is a big change.


One question. Is the SS cage shiny?


I have recently heard that if shiny, the reflection of the other bird in the shiny stainless bird cage metal can be disturbing.


And is the cage larger or smaller?


If larger your bird may be feeling exposed.


Do you have 20 toys and other things lining the inside of the bars?


The items and obstacles will also help block some of the reflective metal if this is the issue.


Try weaving paper or palm strips in and out of the bars.


Cardboard strips.


Anything to take the birds focus away from the cage itself.


One other thing.


Is the bird anywhere near moving air, like a fan or vent?


That also is a big trigger.


Please let us know if any of this helps.

Thank you



You are so right.


It is shiny.


He loves himself and to look at himself.


It also is bigger.


I have taken crate paper and weaved it on and out of the dome as he kept hanging off the side of the bird cage all the time.


Thank you for all suggestions.


He adores me and wants me to pet him all the time.


I have had my citron since baby.


Dear Ron, Lisa


Okay, one more thing.


Are you making sure to pet him ONLY from the neck UP?


If you are stroking his body below the neck you are stimulating him incorrectly.


Yeah, he likes it.


But it is mating behavior.


That can lead to frustration and the self destructive behavior.


NO more stroking, petting below the neck.


Scritch the hell out of his neck, head. ONLY.


You also likely need to set up a full spectrum bulb right above his cage.


12 hours on and 12 hours off.


That will help regulate the hormones.


Set it on a timer for say 8 am to 8 pm, all year round.




Dear Catherine,


I am so very grateful for your help.


JoJo was just fine for 34 years.


Having been sick only one time.


I started having trouble breathing in July of 2017.


I had appointments with several Doctors who could not figure out why.


After 7 Months and continuing to get worse a Pulmonologist diagnosed me with Bird Fanciers Disease.


He told me the only cure was to give Jo Jo away.


This was in March of 2018.


I took JoJo to his Doctor to stay for 6 weeks and both he and I were having a difficult time.


His Doctor told me if I did several things at home I would be able to take him home and still get better.


I brought him home and a couple weeks later he stopped eating so back to the Doctor.


That is when she said he had zinc poisoning.


He was in the Hospital 11 days.


Treated and released.


Since then he has had to be in the new cage.


He constantly wants one of us to pet him.


I never knew about just his head.


I have thought I was giving him the best of care and told by his Doctor he is the best behaved Cockatoo she has ever met.


Quite a compliment for any Cockatoo.


I have continued to get better and will keep him as long as I am on earth.


I am 67 so he will need to go to a family member when I die.


That is a big worry for me because he is so attached.


I will take all your suggestions and help him in any I can.


He has a delightful personality and is worth any challenge I need to face and solve.


Again Thank you.


Have a nice day,



Greetings Ron and Lisa,


mitchr here

I’ve been on the road all week and this slipped through the cracks.
I apologize but you are getting bad information from well-intentioned people.
JoJo could not have been exposed to zinc poisoning from the paint on his cage.
That’s an impossibility.
Bird cages are no longer painted.
Painting bird cages is wasteful and inefficient.
The practice was stopped around the turn of the 21st century with the last known company painting small cages here in Chicago, Prevue Pet.
Bird cages are powder coated.
Powder coating individual pieces are hung on a rack in a long line that moves forward either mechanically or by a factory person dragging each part which is on a hook connected to a roller system above.
A fine coat of powder is dispensed from a unit that puts a positive electrical charge on each particle which is usually ground to about 1000th of an inch.
The powder adheres to the metal substrate and then the park is rolled into a large oven at around 800° where the powder literally binds with the metal.
Bird cages in general do not have zinc in the metal otherwise you would be reading about birds getting poisoned seven days a week.
Prevue Pet here in Chicago has been making bird cages literally since 1869.
They sell to all the big-box stores including Amazon.
They cannot take the chance of a single pet bird being injured because of their fiduciary liability obligations.
I know about powder coating more than most people having managed a powder coating factory in the late 90’s.
Chances are whatever poisoned your bird still might be in the cage like a washer or a toy part which is always a more likely culprit to contain zinc.
As for the diagnosis of Bird Fanciers Disease – that’s absolute nonsense and I’ll be more than happy to have a conversation with the pulmonologist.
People who have dozens (or hundreds) of racing pigeons get Bird Fanciers Disease.
Breeders with large operating aviaries get Bird Fanciers Disease.
Not people with an individual cockatoo.

I don’t know what your financial situation is but if you could afford about $500 I would advocate enlisting the services of a company like Indoor Science.
I’m not a betting man but I think the results would dispute your pulmonologist’s diagnosis
This enrages me which is why I wrote the article Why Doctors Should Be Prescribing Pet Birds
In it you will see a video of how to make a highly effective HEPA air purifier for around 25 bucks.
The video is done by an M.D. not a guy by the name of Roy in his garage.
Please do not rehome the bird because it sounds like a loving relationship.
Catherine and I are both in our 60s with 11 birds – we get it which why we wrote Your parrot may out live you – What’s your plan?
I don’t know if this helped or muddied the waters but feel free to reach out any time


This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Mitch, your information and advice is SO SPOT ON! I have had cockatiels for the last 45 years and one thing I can tell you is VERY FEW VETS get it right with birds. In so many cases, it is hobbyists and others like yourself who know and understand so much more about these fascinating creatures.
    Thank you so much for all of the great information you share with all of us. It is priceless.

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