Are you ready to Rocky?
ROCKY loves gardening, and with a penchant for older men and exploring, has garnered a reputation for being a ‘man about town’ but the thing is… Rocky’s not a man, he’s a cockatoo.
When Cindy and David Marr adopted Rocky he’d spent the last two of his six years confined to a cage but since his rescue in 2014, has been anything but contained.
“He’s a ratbag cockatoo that all of Portarlington loves. We got him from Gumtree after a guy needed to rehome him. His wife had cancer and Rocky wasn’t getting any attention,” Cindy said.
“He was stuck in his cage because his owner was working long hours and his wife was sick, he went from being a captive bird to a free-range bird overnight.”
Cindy said they adopted him a year after Wally, her first cockatoo, passed away from cancer. Wally was 30 years old and she’d had him for 15 years.
“I was absolutely gutted when Wally died. It tore me up, I lasted a year without a cockatoo and then I had to replace him. They’re as smart as a four-year-old kid and as naughty as a two-year-old.
“They’re a flock animal, they want to live with you and be part of the family. Rocky lives with David and I, and our dogs. He loves fetching a ball and brings it back like a dog.
“They’re destructive and scream if bored. Cockatoos should not be kept in cages our birds always develop the best personalities because you can’t develop a personality in a cage.”
Cindy said everything they do, Rocky mimics and as such, has accrued a colourful vocabulary and an advanced palate.
“He copies everything. He’s a ‘foodie’ and loves trying whatever we’re eating, from Weet-Bix with milk, pea and ham soup to green Thai chilli, he’ll whinge until he gets to taste it.
“They’re extremely loving and so smart, I guess having a pet that talks to you too is pretty special. He says things like ‘Who’s a pretty boy? You are’, he says ‘Hello’ when you walk in the door and ‘Hello darling, come on inside’.
Due to Rocky’s recent escapades Cindy spent one too many sleepless nights wondering his whereabouts so recently clipped his wings.
“He flies around to people’s houses. He ‘helps’ them while they garden, pulling out the weeds and keeping them company. He loves breaking into tool sheds, and spending time with people.”
The Portarlington Community Noticeboard is awash with posts letting Cindy know where Rocky is, what adventures her “disobedient child” has gotten up to, and where he’s hunkered down for the night if he’s left his dash home a little too late.
“Rocky is exceptional because a lot of birds can only be handled by their owners and will bite others but he loves getting a pat. He’s been ‘arrested’ before when someone rang the ranger.
“Unfortunately, some people don’t realise he’s like a child, once it’s getting dark or his tired or grumpy, he’ll fly home.”
From stealing pens and pencils, opening drawers, to watching television perched upon the couch at night, Rocky keeps busy around the home but unlike most kids, doesn’t mind being told off.
“As soon as I raise my voice he thinks it’s party time. He gets excited and starts flapping his wings. The dogs will cower if you raise your voice because they know they’re doing something naughty but Rocky loves it.”
After posting her contact details on the community noticeboard Cindy’s been able to keep tabs on him a little better but for now is happy he’s confined to walking distance.
“He’ll still wander over to the neighbour’s house. Cockatoos can live to over 100 so he’s in our will, we’ve left him to our grandson who loves him.
“Rocky travels with us, he goes everywhere with us. A lot of people think they want a cockatoo as a pet but it’s a huge commitment. They’ll get one, get bored and leave them in cages.
“But caged cockatoos live half as long, they pull their feathers out and get cold and die. You have to do your research, they’re high maintenance and a pet for life.
“Our life would certainly be very different without Rocky, he’s pretty special.”