Umbrella Cockatoos

Umbrella Cockatoo
Arthur Morris/Getty Images

Common Names:

Cockatoo, Umbrella Cockatoo, White Cockatoo, White Crested Cockatoo

Scientific Name:

Cacatua alba.

Origin:

Indonesia.

Size:

About 24 inches in length from the beak to the tip of the tailfeathers.

Average Lifespan:

Umbrella Cockatoos can live up to 80 years or more in captivity, when properly cared for.

Temperament:

Umbrella Cockatoos are gentle, docile, and sweet tempered by nature, making them well suited to be companion birds.

They are very rarely aggressive, and quickly form strong bonds with their caretakers.

Colors:

Umbrella Cockatoos are primarily white with yellow on the underside of their wing feathers. They have black beaks and gray or black feet. Some exhibit a tinge of light blue in the rings around their eyes.

Feeding:

Like all large parrots, Umbrella Cockatoos are big eaters. The best diet for one of these birds should consist of a wide variety of vegetables including leafy greens, root vegetables, high quality grains such as quinoa and other ancient grains, fresh sprouts, fresh fruit and the occasional nut healthy nuts such as almonds, hazelnuts, pecans or walnuts.  Healthy seed such as hemp, milk thistle or flax seed can also be offered occasionally. This diet should be supplemented with a high quality formulated pelted diet. Fresh water should be available at all times. 

Exercise:

Umbrella Cockatoos are active birds and like all parrots, they need ample time out of their cage each day for play and exercise.

The strong beak of the Umbrella Cockatoo must be exercised as well, so it is critical that you provide these birds several chewable bird toys and rotate the toys so she has something different to play with now and again. Toys provide exercise, stimulation and enrichment. Keeping toys in stock is a very important part of the responsibility of keeping a bird such as the Umbrella Cockatoo.

Toys are very important for these birds as independent play is an important part of their training. Training can be a big part of their exercise so teaching your cockatoo to play games on the floor with a whiffle ball such as paying catch or teaching her to bring you the ball when you have tossed it are structured play times that give both of you time together while allowing her to stretch her muscles and burn off some energy. 

To encourage and increase activity with the enclosure, ladders and swings are a wonderful addition to the environment that will allow your cockatoo to move about and burn off energy in a positive way. 

Umbrella Cockatoos as Pets:

The vast majority of handfed Umbrella Cockatoos make extremely sweet, charming, intelligent, and well behaved pets. Just as with any bird, however, prospective owners should be sure that they can meet the needs of an Umbrella before rushing out and acquiring one.

Umbrella Cockatoos are large birds and they need a large cage and area to play in. They can also be quite loud when they decide to be, being able to produce a call that can be heard for very long distances. This may mean that an Umbrella may not be the best choice for those who live in apartments or condos, or those with close neighbors.

These birds require a sound, uninterrupted sleep every night of 10 to 12 hours. This is very important for companion birds in maintaining their health and well being. 

Umbrellas are also very social and very intelligent, meaning that their brains need stimulation on a daily basis. A properly prepared Cockatoo owner should have an arsenal of safe bird toys at his or her disposal, and should be able to devote a minimum of one to two hours a day to socializing with their pet. Most Cockatoos thrive on being handled, loved and petted, so affectionate owners are a good match for these parrots! The Umbrella Cockatoo requires a lot of time for training, attention and enrichment in order to maintain a healthy relationship with her. 

For a person that can meet the needs of these magnificent birds, Umbrella Cockatoos can be the best feathered friend in the world.

Most are gentle enough to be handled by older children and many Umbrella Cockatoos are beloved family pets. They can be taught to do tricks and mimic speech, making them delightfully entertaining companions for bird lovers both young and old. No wonder these big white parrots are so popular -- their comical charms will steal your heart.

Edited By: Patricia Sund