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Moluccan Cockatoos:
Learn Before you Leap

Layne David Dicker

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Most bird lovers can remember their first encounter with a Moluccan cockatoo. In fact, the encounter may be the reason they became bird lovers in the first place. There is simply no bird as captivating in appearance, temperament, intellect or voice. I remember the first one that I saw. I still have him.

But my bird, Hitchcock, is one of the few lucky ones. Because they are so spectacular, they are often purchased by novices with a high limit on their credit card and no idea what it takes to keep a Moluccan happy, occupied, quiet (a relative term when used with 'toos), healthy, sweet and trusting. That was me, but I took the considerable time and learned whatever I needed to learn to give him the best home possible. Most people don't, and their birds are in basements, attics and garages all over the world. The thrust of this article isn't to say that Moluccans shouldn't be kept as companion animals and that breeders should stop producing them. Just the opposite. We need all the Moluccans and Moluccan lovers we can get, but they MUST be carefully bred and socialized birds in the homes of informed people.

First of all, and on a lighter note, is the pronunciation of "Moluccan". Back in my novice days, I fell into the "Mul-ah-kin" group, with the middle syllable rhyming with lock, wok or Spock (going for the Trekkie vote there). I was shortly informed that it was "Mul-uk-kin" as in yuck, muck or schmuck; the pronunciation that I use to date. However, here to throw a wrench into my linguistic bliss is Phoebe Linden, breeder/writer/behaviorist extraordinaire, who pronounces it "Mul-oo-kin", as sounded in who, kook or blue. Have you ever tried to have a conversation with someone, the subject of which is a proper noun, used frequently, and the two of you have conspicuously different pronunciations of this noun? It is hysterical. Everything is a nonsequitor because it sounds like you are talking about two entirely different things.

So, which one is right? How about Salmon-crested.

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