Meet Alastor, a 3 year old male Rosebreasted Cockatoo, an original sugar baby! Alastor is pretty well known to our customers, especially if you have gotten a baby from us in the last few years, as he lives in our nursery as the dedicated “nanny” to the babies. Alastor has a pretty unique story from his earliest start and is overall just a special, funky guy. Our breeding pair of Rosebreasted Cockatoos are not good parents.
This is not that uncommon in parrots (especially cockatoos) and a reason why many breeders pull eggs to incubate and feed from day one hatches. When we discovered that they would not take care of their young, and worse kill chicks as they hatched, we did not have the correct set up to incubate and feed from day one with a brooder. So we did the next best thing and fostered the eggs under one of our Cockatiel pairs. Cockatiels and Cockatoos have very similar feeding responses, so normally they will foster chicks of others without problem. As this was the first time doing this with this particular pair of Cockatiels, I diligently checked on the eggs twice a day as we got close to hatch time. After the chicks began hatching I picked up each chick to inspect it and make sure they had food in their crops, from the foster parents. Well, I turned over one of the babies and to my great surprise, he only had one eye. As altricial chicks we cannot see the eye ball at this stage, but he had no bulge where an eye should be, just taut skin across! I was initially very worried because defects like this are usually not just singular and I didn’t have great hope that this bird would survive. But to my surprise, each day the chicks grew equally and no other issues presented.
Just a few weeks prior to these babies hatching we lost our store pet Rosebreasted Cockatoo, Ricky, in a freak accident. I felt like maybe this little one might find a good fit in the store, but tried not to get too attached. Well, as soon as I thought to call him Alastor (Mad Eye Moody) from the Harry Potter series, I knew he wasn’t going anywhere. Alastor also has a unique look to his beak, as he has a severe underbite. This more commonly happens in Cockatoo chicks as they are being hand-reared. Even with a normal beak shape, their top beak tends to tuck into the bottom during feeding responses and it trains the top beak to stay in that position. Even with intervention early on, Alastor’s beak did not correct. It has just added to those special things about him.
As he grew and began to fledge we came across our first issue with Alastor only having one eye. His ability to fly was greatly impacted because he could not see completely to map where to go. As he was growing up in the nursery though, he quickly learned to fly the loop of the room and land softly. We tried a few times to get him acclimated to other parts of the store and the aviary, but it was extremely stressful on him because he didn’t know the space, where or how to land, and often flew endlessly until he crashed. This is when we decided maybe he could just stay in the baby room for life. He was fully disease tested and came from our own breeding stock, so we felt comfortable having him in such a vulnerable area of little ones. He has made a special bond with Gloria, our main care taker of our nursery, and she dotes on him as if he were her own. When Gloria was gone for a few months during a knee replacement, Alastor was deeply affected and was always looking around for his favorite person. We made sure to keep up on sending pictures to her in her recovery. Alastor tends to always end up in our baby photo shoots Madison takes as he is a permanent sugar baby to us! He is a smart little Galah, who lovingly encourages the babies with calling out “step up, step up” commands, trilling sweet songs, and investigating new ones on a regular basis. He loves to run into the back wash room and supervise us when we wash dishes and if we aren’t paying enough attention we’ll get a quick nip to the side of our arms!
Alastor is not open to visitors outside of the baby room for his comfort, but if we don’t have any baby appointments taking place, you are welcome to ask our staff to spend some time with him in the nursery! He loves attention and is quite sweet, so please come see him next time you are in!