Animal-World’s Featured Pet for this week is: The Umbrella Cockatoo!
When I first started working at a pet store, they had an Umbrella Cockatoo, Cacatua alba named “Pierre.” He was the most loving and affectionate bird I have ever known – still to this day I have not met another bird like him. I believe he recognized me over time because eventually every time I would walk up to him he would start dancing and talking and displaying his head feathers. He would always come up on my hand and seemed to really look forward to me petting him. He was sold at some point in time and I really did miss him.
Cockatoos in general are known to make great pets. They are almost all loving and friendly birds, however they need to be given a lot of attention and “one-on-one” time. If you plan to purchase an Umbrella Cockatoo, then you MUST be prepared and willing to spend a great deal of time as their companion. They are very social, can learn to talk, and be taught to do all sorts of tricks. Many people provide play areas outside of their cage where the cockatoo can spend most of the day. They love this and it provides them with a a feeling of being part of the family and a feeling of freedom. In fact, if they are caged too often and/or not given adequate attention, they can turn into screamers. Generally this behavior starts because they feel lonely and neglected. However, screaming can be abated by most often by simply dedicating time and energy into being with your bird and making sure it feels comfortable in its daily surroundings.
Umbrella Cockatoos are one of the largest cockatoos, being all white with a crest of feathers on their heads. When these feathers are raised, it looks like an umbrella – hence the origin of their name! In the wild, they are found in central and northern Moluccas, Indonesia and Obi, Halmahera, Ternate, and Tidore. They can reach a foot in length when they are full-grown adults and this dictates the need for a fairly large cage.
The two main behavioral problems that come up frequently with cockatoos are their screeching habits (mentioned earlier) and the fact that they are prone to chewing their own feathers. They can become quite bald if this is allowed to go on. In order to prevent this you will need to give them plenty of daily attention and make sure they are let out of their cage for good periods of time. They do love to chew to keep their beaks in shape, so also provide them with plenty of chew toys.
Proper care, feeding, and housing is a must for these large birds. They should be provided with clean fresh water daily to make sure they don’t become sick. Fresh food including some fresh fruits and vegetables as well as a large hookbill seed mix should also be provided daily. They can often eat other foods that you may have around the house occasionally, such as cheese, eggs, and canned dog food. If kept alone, these cockatoos should be preened occasionally by their owners to help clear out feather sheaths. You should also probably keep their wings trimmed so that they cannot fly far and accidentally escape out through an open door or window. Their beaks and nails will continually grow as well, so these should be trimmed periodically if they are becoming too long.
Umbrella Cockatoos are considered wonderful pets in the bird world if you have the time to dedicate to them! If you would like to learn more about these particular cockatoos, check out Animal-World’s page on Umbrella Cockatoos!
Jasmine is a team member at Animal-World and has contributed many articles and write-ups.