Theophanes is a New-England-based blogger, traveler, writer, photographer, sculptor, and lover of cats.
A Tale of Avian Horror
The bird you see sitting perched in the photo above is GT, my mother's nefarious, blood-sucking cockatoo, who aspires to nothing more than to plan my untimely demise. I suppose I should start in the beginning, before GT entered my nightmares.
I Never Was a "Bird Person"
At the age of twelve, I helped my mother run an aviary consisting of around 65 birds, mostly cockatiels. I loved hand-feeding the babies and answering customer questions, but the birds themselves usually turned against me soon after weaning. These were the same birds who made loving family pets, learned to talk, and adored every other human on the planet. I never really questioned why this was; I just figured I wasn't a "bird person."
It's true, birds are the most conniving, picky, and self-righteous animals on the planet, even exceeding humans in their power to hold onto judgments and grudges. No adult bird ever liked me, except for a few coopfuls of chickens who were too dumb to know better. It didn't matter what I did to appease them. At my first meeting, I would hold out a treat, which they'd take indignantly and go back to staring me down with the evil eye and hissing. I was never intentionally mean to a bird, but that didn't matter; they all were part of a conspiring global club that had me on their blacklist.
. . . Except With African Greys
There was only one species of bird that actually liked me; those were the African Grey Parrots—you know, the ugly ones with all the brains. This isn't that surprising since African Greys are the rebels of the bird world. They tend to hate everyone except people the other bird species have blacklisted. I had noted that for a long time, people either had birds or an African Grey—rarely did they have both, and when they did, the African Grey was usually penned up like some vicious tyrant, which any bird can be given half a chance.
The Arrival of GT
My mother had decided sometime in here that she wanted a larger parrot. The cockatiels were lovely, but she wanted one of the birds that could destroy an entire house in an hour sharp, swear louder than a trucker whose arm just got lopped off, and outlive her by a great many years. In specific, she wanted a cockatoo, one of the crested parrots who are usually white and intensely cuddly with their owners. So one day we were in a pet store and she noticed a baby Goffin's Cockatoo who was just being weaned. She fell in love.
Though I didn't do a thing besides look in his general direction, the bird took an immediate dislike to me. His little black beady eyes were aflame with malicious intent. I just knew it. Goffin's Cockatoos are the smallest of the cockatoos and are the most devious due to the fact that they will escape anything you put them in, given enough time to plot. My mother named him G-Too (short for Goffin's Cockatoo) because she's creative like that. Eventually that got shortened to GT because, being lazy English-speaking Americans, we disliked having to spend so much time pronouncing the whole thing.
I Tried to Befriend Him
I tried everything to be on this bird's good side. I fed him treats, I cooed sweetly at him, and I gave him spray bottle showers (which he adored.) I even made him toys. This didn't matter. The bird was an unfettered moody God in his own right, and he knew it. I shouldn't have been surprised when his glowering turned into biting. He didn't bite everyone—just me, repeatedly, no matter what I was doing. He'd fly across the room just to attack me, which was no small feet since his wings were clipped. When his feathers were too short, he'd flop to the floor, sneak up on me, and bite at my ankles, hard!
GT Did Not Appreciate the Cockatoo Experts' Advice
Eventually it got so bad I demanded he be locked in his cage when I was around. It was just as well. Cockatoo experts will advise new owners to put their parrot "in the most active room in the house so they can enjoy the people going by." Parrots are incredibly needy, after all, both emotionally and intellectually. What they didn't say was that there are some exceptions, namely psycho birds.
GT would attack me and scream for hours, rocking back and forth like he had Tourettes, and just generally be an unhappy bird whenever his cage was in an active part of the house. He wasn't appeased until he got his own room, locked away, where he finally settled down and stopped trying to kill things. Parrot experts tell us locking a bird away where it isn't with its human for 1–4 hours a day is the worst and most detrimental thing you can do. The experts never met GT.
It's an Ambush!
One time we again tried putting GT in an active part of the house; this time it was in the hallway where he could have some mental stimulation but not too much. The bird acted like stimulation was a form of crack. I had no idea the ferocious fowl had spent all day slowly turning the hinges on the door of his California Cage in a bid to get out. When I was minding my own business, walking down the hall, I did notice that his door was flopped on the floor, but I didn't see the bird anywhere in sight.
Stupidly, I thought nothing of this and went to walk over to the door when something hit me with the force of an oncoming train. Before I could figure out what was going on, I felt the sharpest pain of my life. The bird was clinging onto my shirt and biting my chest as hard as he could, drawing blood and giving me scars in the process.
Without thinking, or even knowing what had attacked me, I instinctively grabbed the attacker and flung him clear across the house. The bird landed with a thud on the floor but got up unfazed, shook his head, and took three steps toward me before thinking better of it. He had actually methodically planned out his cage escape and had sat in ambush on top of his cage, just waiting for me to walk by. Of course I felt bad for sling-shotting him across the house. It's not in my nature to abuse animals, but needless to say I kept my distance from him from then on.
He Has Bitten Every Hand That Might Feed Him
Goffin's cockatoos have been known to live into their 50s, and because of this, it's unlikely my mother will outlive him. This is a crying shame when you think about the fact that he's bitten everyone he could have been possibly willed to, damning himself to an incredibly unpredictable future.
Currently you can find GT in his room, sitting in his cage, babbling drunkenly to himself because he's too damn lazy to make actual words come out. I know this because he could say hello when we brought him home. After he came here, he knew he didn't have to impress anyone and let his speech decay to infantile babble, absolute gibberish only he and his imaginary evil twin can understand.
The Bad Behavior of Cockatoos
Since getting GT, I have learned that cockatoos are psychotic birds. Yes, they can be super sweet and cuddly with people they like. However, these are also the birds that are nearly impossible to breed because both males and females in "bonded breeding pairs" have been known to tear off each other's toes whenever they're pissed at each other, which apparently is frequently. They also can decapitate their own children by biting their beaks clear off in infancy, and they're not too good to rip out their mate's feathers in giant hunks.
At Least GT Is Happy
When a mate isn't available and they haven't had enough mental stimulation, they'll stay occupied by plucking themselves bald. Such charming creatures they are . . . GT apparently is the exception to this rule as he's always been in perfect feather.
Olivia on September 01, 2020:
Oh MY GOD, sooo trueee... I used to wonder my african grey dislikes me (still tolerate me, but I am not in her heart, while other birds love me through their blood and bone).
And I currently adopt a Goffin's, who instantly hate my husband. He really wants to kick my husband out from his own house, a day after he arrived at our home. WTF.
I know how you feel, luckily I am in your opposite, means all my birds (except the african grey) loves me a lot
Fiona on May 01, 2020:
Honestly I sincerely feel your pain. About 5-6 years ago we decided to bring a cockatoo into our home. We made the mistake of going to an auction. Anyways we ended up with a sweet looking goffin cockatoo we named clyde. I have always loved birds and I have never had an issue with them, however Clyde is an absolute terror. We believe he is very old he was definitely wild caught. He has never been a kind or loving pet. We have devoted so much time and care into somewhat taming him. I just don't see him ever being a true pet. I have managed to get him to a point where I can somewhat pet him, but anything more than that is hopeless. He acts like he wants to be friends with you and sit on you, but the minute you put your hand or arm up he bites a hole in whatever part of your body(I'm not kidding he's torn a hole in my ear). He hates everyone and I'm at my whits end with him. I love the little jerk, but owning him is completely unfulfilling and soul crushing.
Gail on August 08, 2019:
Cockatoos are very hard to take care of. They make big messes,scream LOUD, bite a 3 point puncture and laceration wound,chew up anything.they are so demanding and needy and you can't get anything done until he is in bed. I have to cover his cage with 13 blankets and a piece of carpet to muffle his screaming. I feel bad for Stanley, I wish he could be flying in the wilderness with his friends. He was raised in captivity. You would think that having a bird for 21 years the care would be easier but it is not it's harder. I'm older and he's too unpredictable. Don't get cockatoos, get parakeets. I love my bird but if he died today I would be sad and at the same time it would be like a weight taking off my shoulders.
Andy on July 27, 2019:
I had an rehomed african grey. Bit me every day for a year. I finally learned his body language. I also learned his calls.
You cannot walk out of the toom without telling them where you are going. I always say Im going upstairs. I wait for the bird to acknowledge. He says ok. Birds will learn your speech if your consistant. If I dont do that, they panic and start yelling wanting to know where I am.
My african grey turned into the sweetest bird. I could tell him I loved him in bird talk. Its like a purr. I learned he loved to have his chin scratched, but not the sides of his body. He was a 1 person bird and thats ok. I would put items inside a closed plastic water bottle. He would attack that and get out his agressions on that. He stopped attacking me. He was a great bird but it took a year.
Anon on July 19, 2019:
Ohhh...is this truth ever so accurate!! Mine is a terror as well and has not an inkling of fear, will viciously attack and then give off a horrifiic, evil laugh that would send a chill down the devils spine, is territorial of basically everything and isn't afraid to attack and defend whatever it is he has chosen as the territory at the time, eats holes through everything including walls and studs in the wall, will bite so deep it exposes layers of fat and could surely do much more damage. Had a long, exhausting and stressful day at work? No problem...come home to a screaming bird who is unrelenting in the exceptionally loud blood-curdling screams and perfect timing at 7 am on a Sat and Sun. Funny how you say they will bite each others toes off because as soon as you say don't bite and you can see that he so badly wants to, he will then bite at his own toes and then laugh that bone chilling evil laugh of his that makes you wonder if he learned this trait with the previous owner or is it just a natural vocalization of pure evil? But the cuddles? Yes...the cuddles release all those feel good endorphins and he coos and makes the sweetest noises and just melts your heart. These are dangerous psycho manipulators who only want their feathers preened and know how to be sweet enough to get what they want and then terrorize the entire home afterward. Do NOT get a cockatoo...they get their name honest! Conures? Yesss!! Conures are the perfect feathered companion. Cockatoos will make you laothe the day you got them and then play on the guilt centers of your brain making you think, well maybe I don't give him enough attention, maybe I did this or did that and it threatened him in some way or made him feel uncomfortable or maybe he needs a mate or more outside time or more of this or more of that and this is the reason for such behavior. Blah blah blah. Don't let them play you! Get a different breed entirely!
Keith on April 27, 2019:
We have a grey and she is a very sweet bird. Not cuddley like a cockatoo but very sweet and very friendly (we have had her from 8 weeks old). We also have a blue and gold macaw that is a tad psychotic and postures and threatens anyone except me.
A couple of days ago we adopted an umbrella cockatoo from a couple that was rehoming him via Craigslist. This couple looked after him for a time ( a year they said) after his owner died tragically. So far it has been a nightmare. One the first day he bit a hole clean through the middle of my ear (I feared he tore it half of until I saw it) and drew blood from my finger as I was getting him off me. Later in the day he bit my 15 year old step son on the arm. He bit my wife in the arm as well (although hers was the most inconsequential). And every time he bit he had offered his foot willingly, practically asking us to pick him up.
Now, I know birds beed some time to adjust (i felt from the beginning that he should be confined to his cage for a days until he adjusted to his new environment) but thus behavior is very troubling and not at all what we expected. Hopefully things will change after a week or so.
Marilyn on April 08, 2019:
I have a cherry head conure and a blue crown conure. What people don’t realize is birds mate for life whether it be with another bird or a human. If you have one bird it may pick you or you spouse for it’s mate. If it chooses one of you the other may never get near the bird. My two conures are bonded so I just tend to let them be by themselves. On the other hand, I have a Derbyan parrot I acquired about a year ago when she was 17.
She loves anyone that walks through door. Also, if my birds flew at me and attacked me, they would not be flying. My conures are 25 and 27 and I have had them since they were under a year old. I also have a 31 year old cockatiel. My babies are out of their cages all day and I am never attacked. Also for those of you that have taken in birds from previous owners, you may never bond with them. Just be patient and love them for who they are.
Greg on January 20, 2019:
Lordy, he isnt far off. Parrots are so insanely intellegent i think they have people pegged better then we have them pegged. I love mine like children but they are like rotten teenagers. One minute they are full of love and then the next you wanna drop them off at an orphanage. If you were thinking about getting one then dont. They are not for you. Do you hear me? THEY ARE NOT FOR YOU!!! Your not capable of handleing them
Theophanes Avery (author) from New England on May 20, 2018:
Sorry to hear that, I feel your pain! I'm not really sure why people keep those feathered demons but to each their own!
I feel your pain on May 20, 2018:
I have an umbrella cockatoo. Your story really hit home .
bookpaw on March 30, 2018:
so scary my is parakeet is super sweet and nice to me
Lily on May 18, 2017:
Don't have a bird (honestly not too sure how I got here), but your life is terrifying! Facing that menace on a daily basis... How do you do it?
Theophanes Avery (author) from New England on September 18, 2016:
Thank you for commenting grand old lady. I raise chickens now.... they're a lot better! And don't bite! I am happy this story has brought you a good laugh. :)
Mona Sabalones Gonzalez from Philippines on September 11, 2016:
This story made me lol. I also learned an awful lot about cockatiels, and am thankful for not being a bird person:).
QudsiaP1 on October 13, 2012:
Goodness gracious!!! Scary as hell...
net on February 03, 2012:
ha ha i liked this story a lot,although i do sympathias with you,i have a grey and i do every thing for iti bought it from a home that did not care about it,i wanted some thing that would love to be teated good was i in for a surprise,it tries to bite me any chance it gets its murder tring to clean out the cage,i let it out fo many hours a day but try and get it into the cage takes me hrs,flies into my face,umps of the cage to get me,i was going to open the door and let it go,i am o ap and disabled but that is NO friend,its a get
Jany on October 16, 2011:
Hah! I have a little demon living in my house too! She's my partner's goffin minion and I secretly wish for the day she will naturally die or have a heart attack brought on by her apopolectic fits. I'm terrified of her having been bitten repeatedly to the point of gaping wounds and blood. In truth, I can't stand her now and leave the room when she is brought in to it.
Runaway on July 08, 2011:
I feel for you! I shared a house with a screaming banshee (cockatoo) for some time . . . the experience sent me into a downhill spiral of nervous anxiety, horrible nightmares, and off to the psychologist. It was absolute misery. I also tried everything to be the bird's friend - to no avail. I am amazed that you are still holding on . . . you sure have a way of expressing their evil, conniving little personalities.
elan455 on July 22, 2010:
My housemate has a great sympathy for birds and recently brought home a cockatoo that some acquaintance of hers didn't want. I dearly wish I was a horror movie producer because the very first thing I would show on the screen would be this cockatoo screaming, his head in a pulsating fury, his white plumed crown raised like a warriors shield. As the cameras back up you see the bird with wings outstretched, flapping in some mystic vibration, his ear piercing screams so absolute in viciousness that you become convinced that there is without any shadow of a doubt a place called hell!
Suddenly the bird stands straight on his perch and begins swinging round and round the stick, right side up, upside down, faster and faster, his face turning once again towards you, beak opening shutting shrieking, eyes intent on ripping you to shreds if only the bars of the cage were not there... I could go on! What a phenomenal beasty! I call it Satan's pet.
net on July 11, 2010:
THIS STORY WAS SO FUNNY, BUT SAD,I HAVE A GREY WQHO IS LIKE THAT WITH ME AND I SAVED HIM FROM A BAD HOME,HE GETS EVERY THING,CAGE CLEANED EVERY DAY ALL KINDS OF FRUIT AND FOOD STILL HE IS A GET,BUT I WONT STOP TRYING TO BE HIS FRIEND.
kelly Liberatore on June 27, 2009:
I found this post whilst looking for information on vicious parrots. I have a Military Macaw. He's bitten every inch of my body including my face, taken off a thumb nail like a pop can top, throws his food back at me when I fill his bowl and there is no end in site. I've had him for 10 years. I can't give him away for fear he'll hurt a child or something. He's a menace - very smart, and even charming when he wants to be, though. Your story made me feel better. At least I'm not the only one loathed by a bird.
earnestshub from Melbourne Australia on April 04, 2009:
I feel for you! My daughter has an Eclectus Parrot and he is very demanding, cunning and vicious. The Australian Cockatoo is another menace. The other night four young males cockatoo's went on a scandalous raid, ripping ends of TV antennas on four houses while screaming at the top of their voices. Like a bunch of uncontrolled teens they were!
I must say I got a great laugh out of this hub, and I love birds despite recognizing as you do what devils they can be.
Terra on March 24, 2009:
Hey nice story it did make me laugh .. I have a Goffins and he is the sweetest little thing .. He doesn't really care for anyone but me but he doesn't bite at all... He will just jump off his stand or cage to get away from them... He is a wwonderful littl bird... Im sorry Gt was so mean to you what a shame... Terra
cathy on March 23, 2009:
So what do you do to stop from being eaten alive and going deaf?? I think I have his cousin Buddy who was my cuddle bug now he just bites me for no reason 4 times this week alone he Loves my Husband.
Theophanes Avery (author) from New England on January 15, 2009:
Yeah, darling little GT does that too (go in search of bare skin to take a bite out of.) It's one of his more endearing qualities... 'toos are such odd creatures! Glad someone else is on their blacklist!
craig on January 15, 2009:
we thinks we have gt's long lost evil twin toby the sulphur creasted 2 we have videos of him flyby biting me and i just walked past his cage and he pounced on my back and bit the back of my arm and hes not stupid either when he bites me on clothed areas and i dont yelp he looks for bare skin asnd has a go at that instead lol
Sadie on June 13, 2008:
Cockatoos are manipulators and love, love drama. Especially drama reactions. Nothing gets the larger parrots going more than some screaming and jumping around because of something they've done. This is frequently why they become hard-core biters. A lot of the stuff you mentioned about 'toos come from them being wild animals in the wrong enviroment. They can be good companions, it just takes constant work and attention.
Theophanes Avery (author) from New England on April 28, 2008:
Well, not all parrots (or cockatoos) are psychotic but it does take a special person to give them what they need... You may be surprised to know that some American and European birds (perhaps some that have fallen from trees) can sometimes talk. In fact crows and ravens are eerily good at speech if they've been around people too much. Just something to keep in mind... in case you ever hear one say Hello or Paully wants a cracker. :) And oh yes, I came across someone whose parakeet could speak 300 words and heard rumors of talking zebra finch (though I was unable to track down evidence of this.) Never let size fool you!
bluebird on April 28, 2008:
You did good! Real good! Loved it! I always thought it would be fun to have a bird that talks. But thanks to you, now I know better! I'll just stick with feeding baby birds that have fallen out of their nests. I've always enjoyed that. Hee hee!Look forward to more from you...
Cybermouse from Bentonville, AR on January 26, 2008:
I love this hub, one of the best I've read so far. I know very little about birds, but now at least I know to stay away (far, far away) from cockatoos, especially vicious, scheming ones. I had always pictured cockatoos as cute, cuddly birds, but this hub certainly cleared up that myth!
Excellent work, very well written. That's all I can say.
AuraGem from Victoria, Australia on January 21, 2008:
I do honestly feel sincerely sorry for you with this bird, but what a hilarious story! I guess I can laugh from a safe distance!
Smiles and Light
Theophanes Avery (author) from New England on January 20, 2008:
Yes, I'd have to say GT does know when people are afraid of him, just like a dog. He gets his chuckles out of that. First he plays well with a person then he starts to push them until they're as jumpy as I am. The really twisted thing is he learned how to laugh in this mad scientist kind of way and he knows exactly when to burst out cackling. Creepy little creature...
Iðunn on January 20, 2008:
great story~ I can't pick out a funniest line. the whole read was a blast. :D
MrMarmalade from Sydney on January 20, 2008:
You have convinced me.
I believe dog's can smell a person that fears them.
Now I have added this Mind zeroing bird to the dog chain. Has this bird been paired with one of the Dog people?