Big Bird in Danger

The sound of laughter and then screaming erupted from a table at a PB boardwalk café on the afternoon of February 19. By the sizable crowd surrounding the table, one would have thought Angelina and Brad were having their morning mochas. Instead, there with his "feet" wrapped around the handrail separating the café guests from the boardwalk was PB local King Tut, a ten-year-old, seven-pound, salmon-crested Moluccan cockatoo.

“He’s famous around here and happiest when he’s socializing. Anything for the sake of entertainment,” said his owner. And with that, Tut, surrounded by smiling spectators, began his routine, which included saying hello, good-bye, barking like a dog, mocking the laughter of others, and bouncing repeatedly as if he were on a trampoline. He ducked as a seagull flew low overhead.

“Mostly he eats fruits, veggies, and seeds; although, he’ll eat anything shiny,” said its owner, who then recalled the time her bird plucked seven shiny buttons from a woman’s blouse in less than 30 seconds. The crowd laughed at the story; Tut laughed back.

The upside of owning a Moluccan cockatoo is that they make for very cuddly pets. The downside is that they are destructive, able to chew entire corners off walls, and they have an appetite for wooden furnishings. They are also noisy.

“It really is like having a two-year-old, forever,” said his owner. “They live about 90 years, so you have to include them in your will."

It is estimated that only 50 percent of Moluccan cockatoos survive the process of trapping and transportation. On November 3, 2009, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed protecting the Moluccan cockatoo by including it on the federal list of threatened species. FWS is now seeking public comment on the proposal.

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