The beautiful umbrella cockatoo, aka the white cockatoo, is a large and flamboyant parrot. It is a mostly white bird with a splash of yellow under its wings and tail. It has a dramatic crest that springs open from its forehead like an umbrella, thus the name.
Behaviorally, the umbrella cockatoo, along with the Moluccan, is considered to be one of the most challenging of all parrot species. They are demanding and require commitment, patience, and most importantly, consistency from their owners.
The umbrella cockatoo might well be its own worst enemy. This bird loves affection. In fact, it CRAVES your physical attention, and would do nothing else but cuddle all day if given the opportunity. When you pair that bird with an owner who is all too happy to hold the bird around the clock, the result is a bird that is only happy when plastered to the chest of its owner. It becomes unwilling to function independently and the minute you step away – it screams. It is the beginning of a cycle that most people aren’t able to manage without the help of those experienced with this species.
When you visit your local parrot shelter, you are almost certain to find at least one umbrella cockatoo in your residence. They are emotionally complex and are quick to develop bad habits and the inexperienced cockatoo owner will often see no other choice but to relinquish their bird.
Because they’re so intelligent and so explorative, we HIGHLY recommend that you use a strategy we call the “No Food bowl” strategy. The basic theory behind this strategy is that a wild Cockatoo would be spending 10+ hours of its day searching for food and keeping its mind active; yet only 20 minutes eating from its food bowl.
What we have seen a lot of of our clients have success with is to ‘Hide Their Birds Food’ in its toys each day. Done correctly, we’re able to set up scenarios where it takes 4 hours for our birds to find their breakfast inside their toys… and another 4 hours for dinner.
A cockatoo who’s spent 8 hours using its brain to solve puzzles has nowhere near the level of anxiety and energy that a bird who just eats from a food bowl has.
Is the Umbrella Cockatoo the Right Parrot For You?
The truth is that you may not want to bring an Umbrella Cockatoo into your home. Yes, it is true that Cockatoos are known for their cuddliness and affectionate personality. However, what many people don’t know is that if they’re not properly socialized, trained, and cared for, this particular breed of bird can make your life quite difficult. If you do decide to make an umbrella cockatoo part of your family it’s extremely important you get started with the right kind of Cockatoo Training from the beginning.
All too often Umbrella Cockatoos, and other cockatoos too, are not properly socialized from birth which can result in some behavior problems from the get-go. If you, as a new Cockatoo owner, do not jump in with two feet and learn to read their body language, care for them, and train them, well… you’re in for a lot of damage, noise, and unpleasantness down the road.
They’re extremely loud and can cause hearing damage. They’re destructive and their powerful beaks can hurt when they bite. As they approach adolescence they will begin to exhibit this behavior more frequently and only an attentive and compassionate owner can properly care for them. It should also be noted that they shed white dander that people can be allergic to. Regular baths can help significantly.
So wait, you might be thinking, why would I want to have an Umbrella as a pet? Quite simply, when an Umbrella Cockatoo is properly trained and cared for, it can be the most loyal and loving bird around. They’re quite amazing. They are extremely intelligent and many owners find it fun to teach them to talk and perform tricks.