Can Cockatoos Fly? {How You Can Help}

There’s something truly magical about watching a cockatoo take to the skies.

I’m often taken back to a sunny afternoon in Australia when Jesper and I sat in our backyard, and a cockatoo, with its vibrant crest and gleaming feathers, soared above us.

It was a sight to behold! But this brings up a question many of us have about our pet cockatoos: Can cockatoos fly as pets?

Can Cockatoos Fly?

Yes. Cockatoos are naturally gifted flyers. In their native habitats, they soar through the skies, navigating forests and open terrains with ease. Their wings are designed for both short bursts of speed and long-distance flights.

In domestic settings, a cockatoo’s ability to fly can be restricted. Some pet owners opt to clip their cockatoo’s wings for safety reasons, preventing them from flying away or getting into household hazards.

Pet cockatoos should have opportunities to exercise their wings, even if it’s just short flights indoors. Without regular exercise, their flight muscles can weaken.

Why Do Cockatoos Have Wings?

Nature has a way of equipping creatures with tools for survival. For cockatoos, it’s their wings. Niklas often jokes that if he had wings like our pet cockatoo, he’d never be late for work! But on a serious note, these wings serve multiple purposes:

  • Flight: Beyond just getting from point A to B, wings allow cockatoos to explore their surroundings, find food, and even play with other birds. It’s their version of a joyride.
  • Communication: Just like we might raise our hands to ask a question, cockatoos use their wings to express feelings. Our pet cockatoo, for instance, flaps its wings when it’s excited about treat time.
  • Protection: I’ve read about wild cockatoos that spread their wings to shield their young from rain or even to shade them from the harsh sun.

Are All Cockatoos Good Flyers?

In nature, cockatoos are born to fly. But when they’re with us, in our homes, things can change:

  • Wing Clipping: Some folks trim their cockatoo’s wings for safety. Jesper once shared a story of a friend’s cockatoo that flew right into a window. After that, they decided to clip its wings.
  • Out of Practice: It’s like us with dancing. If you don’t dance for a long time, you might be a bit rusty. Cockatoos need regular flying sessions to keep their skills sharp.
  • Health: Just like we might skip the gym when we’re not feeling well, a cockatoo might not be up for flying if it’s under the weather.

While cockatoos are inherently skilled flyers, various factors, especially in domestic settings, can influence their flying abilities.

Do Cockatoos Love Flying?

Absolutely! Think of a kid in a candy store. That’s a cockatoo in the open sky. On our family picnics, Niklas and I often spot cockatoos doing playful dives and turns in the air. It’s clear they’re having the time of their lives.

Every time I watch my own cockatoo stretch its wings and take a short flight around my living room, I’m reminded of the pure joy flying brings to these birds. In their natural habitat, cockatoos don’t just fly to get from one place to another; it’s a form of play, a dance in the sky.

There’s a certain freedom and happiness that flying brings to these birds. Even at home, when our cockatoo takes those playful short flights from the couch to the window sill, its excitement is noticeable.

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Should Cockatoos Fly Indoors?

Letting your cockatoo fly indoors can be a treat for both of you. But there are three things to consider:

  1. Space: Ensure there’s ample room. We once rearranged our living room, moving out some furniture, to give our cockatoo a bigger play area.
  2. Safety First: Close windows, switch off fans, and keep an eye out for potential dangers. We learned this the hard way when our cockatoo had a close call with a ceiling fan.
  3. Training: Jesper’s cockatoo comes back to him with a simple whistle. Training can make indoor flying sessions fun and safe.

How to Get Your Cockatoo to Fly More?

If you’re looking to give your cockatoo more flying time, here are some tips:

  • Safe Zone: Find or create a safe space. Our enclosed patio became the perfect spot for our cockatoo’s flying adventures.
  • Interactive Play: Niklas has this fun game where he throws a soft toy in the air, and our cockatoo fetches it. It’s like fetch, but for birds!
  • Routine: Just like we have our morning routines, setting a regular flying time can be great. It gives them something to look forward to.

Do Cockatoos Need a Lot of Space to Fly?

I remember when Jesper and I were setting up a space for our first cockatoo. We wanted to ensure it had enough room to spread its wings.

Cockatoos, with their zest for life, truly thrive when they have space. Niklas often jokes that our living room feels like a mini bird sanctuary during our cockatoo’s flying sessions.

  • Room to Roam: Cockatoos love space. The more room they have, the happier they are.
  • Safety First: Ensure the flying area is free from hazards like open windows or hot surfaces.
  • Regular Exercise: Just like us, cockatoos benefit from regular physical activity. A good flight session can be both fun and healthy for them.

How Often Should Cockatoos Fly?

Niklas and I believe in the importance of routine. Just as he has his morning exercise, our cockatoo looks forward to its daily flights. It’s a blend of exercise and playtime for them.

  • Daily Flights: Aim for daily flying sessions, even if they’re short.
  • Mental Stimulation: Flying isn’t just physical; it keeps their minds sharp too.
  • Bonding Time: These sessions can be a great bonding activity. Our cockatoo loves the attention it gets during its flights.

Is Wing Clipping Harmful to Cockatoos?

Jesper and I have had long discussions about this. While wing clipping doesn’t physically harm the bird, it does limit their natural ability to fly. I always feel a twinge of sadness seeing a bird that can’t take to the skies.

  • Not Painful: When done correctly, wing clipping is like trimming hair.
  • Temporary: Feathers grow back, so the bird will eventually be able to fly again.
  • Safety vs. Freedom: Some argue it’s safer for indoor birds, but I believe in creating a safe environment where they can fly freely.


Cockatoos are born to fly, and with a little care and attention, we can let them enjoy this natural instinct, even in our homes.

It’s a joy to watch and a great way for them to stay healthy and happy. Thanks for joining me on this flight of discovery, and here’s to many more sky-high adventures with our feathered pals!


Thank you for visiting for the best information to help you enjoy the life of your pocket pet companion in a fun, safe & healthy way.


My name is Anna and I work full time in my local pet shop where we sell many animals that I write about on this site. I love all animals and love writing about them.