Do Cockatoos Fly? 9 Facts You Should Know


Do Cockatoos Fly? 9 Facts You Should Know

One of the parrot species in the Cacatuidae family is the cockatoo. They are renowned for their appearance. But what about their propensity for flight?

Cockatoos can fly. Even the most trusted and domesticated ones can fly away, even though they can be taught various tricks and trained to stay in one spot. This is the case because, like all other (flying) birds, cockatoos have the instinct to fly. Cockatoos also enjoy flying uninhibited.

These birds’ natural tendency to fly frequently often gives their owners nightmares.

Many of us may think cockatoos have wings and can fly, so what makes this flying ability so special? Well, this is because these birds are unique in that they are trainable. Thus, this post has been devoted to looking into information about their natural flight propensity and flying abilities.

Do cockatoos fly away?

If you plan to get a cockatoo as your pet bird, the first thing to ask is if these birds can fly away. So let us explore the answer.

Cockatoos can fly away if given the opportunity. Remember that cockatoos are birds and have an innate desire to fly freely. So, why wouldn’t they fly away or flee when given an open window or door or when taken outside?

You may now argue that these birds are trainable. We affirm that you can teach them to remain in one location or, if they fly, at least to return. But they are birds, after all, and even the most trained ones have been known to take off. A cockatoo may also have difficulty returning home if it flees in a panic.

The real bad news is that if a domestic cockatoo flees, it might not have a good chance of surviving in the wild for very long. Likewise, cockatoos kept as pets are seriously at risk if gone lost.

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How far do cockatoos fly?

In search of food, cockatoos can fly tens of kilometres every day. They frequently live nomadic lifestyles and are quite mobile.

Do cockatoos return if they fly away?

Cockatoos flying away is one of the most frequent problems cockatoo owners face. So, it is apt to find out if the bird will return once flown away.

Cockatoos often return once they fly away. However, it would depend on the bird’s training level and the reinforcement you are giving it. Additionally, if the bird develops a close bond with its human, it will mostly return for the sake of that bond.

The reason they would return would be for food and water. Pet birds find it challenging to get food and thrive in the wild. Therefore, they are most likely to return to where they know they can find food, which is typically their cage.

So, if you lose your cockatoo, place the cage outside where the birds may see it. Keep their favorite food close to their cage and call them by name. Sometimes, a little persuasion may be needed!

How fast do cockatoos fly?

Cockatoos can fly up to 70 km/h (43 mph). However, the speed of the cockatoos varies according to the species. For example, those with broad wings can fly quickly and high. On the other hand, species with short, rounded wings fly slowly and leisurely, like the sulfur-crested cockatoo.

Do cockatoos fly at night?

The large bulk of birds is diurnal, which means they are active in the daytime while spending their nights sleeping. What can we, however, say about cockatoos? 

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As diurnal birds, cockatoos cannot fly at night because they cannot see in the dark. In the dark, cockatoos have a weak vision. But if they are disturbed at night, they may experience “night fright” causing them to panic and fly anywhere abruptly. 

Cockatoos see more distinct colors than humans because they have four visual pigments. Nonetheless, they cannot see in the dark due to this extra pigment. These birds are likewise late risers for this reason.

To fly and find food, cockatoos require broad daylight. As a result, they get up and start their day when the sun has warmed their nest. And as the day wears on and dusk approaches, they dash back to the nest.

Note: Cockatoos are daytime birds, yet they need a minimum of 10 to 12 hours of darkness and peace to sleep.

Can umbrella cockatoos fly?

Umbrella cockatoos can fly. In fact, these white cockatoos have a fight or flight tendency and would undertake flying when faced with any challenges. 

When do cockatoos fly?

Cockatoos are daytime birds, and they fly when there is broad daylight outside. 

Do cockatoos scream when flying?

When adopting a cockatoo, you should be aware that you are getting a highly vocalized creature. Cockatoos have loud and piercing vocalizations.

When flying, cockatoos may scream. Screaming is an instinct in these birds that serves numerous functions. For example, cockatoos may scream at their group mates, interact with other members, track each other, warn of predators, and so on.

However, these are all theories. Experts are still attempting to figure out why these birds create such a ruckus.

Nevertheless, you should never try to stop your pet cockatoo from doing this. Also, please pay attention to nature and the intensity of their screaming. This can reveal a lot about the bird’s health.

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Can you train cockatoos not to fly?

Cockatoos, as previously stated in this post, can be trained. So it will be interesting to see if these incredible birds can be trained not to fly.

Cockatoos can be trained not to fly, but it is a challenging task. One thing to remember is that cockatoos’ inborn instinct to fly freely cannot be altered by humans. However, with adequate training, motivation, and the application of positive reinforcements, these birds can be encouraged to learn not to fly.

Talking to your cockatoos is an important component of the training process. Before continuing, gain the bird’s trust. Positive reinforcement of your cockatoos is also essential for getting them to accomplish or learn what you want. In this situation, their favorite food can serve as an effective reinforcer.

Note: We advocate not clipping your cockatoos’ wings when training them not to fly. Although it is not painful, it is not beneficial to the bird. On the contrary, removing their wings will be detrimental to their health.


To summarize, all cockatoos can fly due to instinct, and they are amusing parrots who can learn tricks. So they can be trained not to fly away. However, we cannot change the bird’s natural flight instinct, and you never know when your taught cockatoo will flee if given a chance.

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