It is difficult to imagine a more beautiful bird than the Citron Crested cockatoo.  Originally from the island of Sumba in Indonesia, this subspecies of the Lesser Sulfur Crested cockatoo has become rare throughout its range because of deforestation and trapping for the pet trade. Though not common, they are bred in reasonable numbers in captivity.

Citrons are approximately 12 to 13 inches long and weigh 360 to 425 grams. The males are usually larger than the females. Their medium size and sweet personality make them the perfect parrot for many people. The citron has often been called the quietest of all the cockatoos – assuming ANY cockatoo can be called quiet! While they might lack the volume of the big guys, (their screech is rather low pitched and raspy), they are more than capable of rattling the windows when they get wound up. A single bird is likely to be quieter than one that has another bird to “talk” to.

Citrons are sometimes described as being nervous or easily frightened, but it should be remembered that all of the Lesser Sulfur Cresteds, as well as many other species of parrots are sensitive, hyper-vigilant, high-energy birds. Their natural reaction to anything that frightens them is to put as much distance between them and the scary thing as possible, even if it is something their owner is holding or wearing. People often frighten sensitive parrots by reaching for them suddenly, by putting a new toy in their cage, or by trying to hand them to strangers. The bird might cope with this fairly well for awhile, but fear and anticipation of the dreaded event builds up and leads to an eventual panic attack – which often catches the owner completely by surprise. The owner often compounds the problem by chasing the frightened bird down to catch, hold and comfort it, instead of immediately leaving it alone to calm down and forget. The bird becomes convinced that its much-loved owner is no longer trustworthy, and the end result is a “phobic” bird that fears being handled or restrained in any way.

There are things that can be done to greatly minimize the chance of fear or phobic behavior ever getting started. Babies that grow up and fledge in close proximity with other cockatoos are less likely to be unstable because they are able to study the reactions of the more experienced birds - just as they would watch their parents - to find out how to behave in any given situation.

The cage should be a big, tall dome-top so that the bird is perched high enough when inside the cage that everyone isn't looking down on it.  The minimum size cage for a Citron is 24 inches wide by 48 inches long.  It is amazing what a little extra height does for a shy, sensitive bird's sense of security. The cage should be in a corner or against the wall -also to give a feeling of security.  But most importantly, owners must learn to observe their bird's body language so that they know when it is uncomfortable with a situation. The likelihood of phobic behaviors surfacing seems to lessen after the first year or two.

Citrons and Lesser Sulfur Crested cockatoos are delightful, affectionate, outgoing companions for people who treat them with gentleness and sensitivity.





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