Country of Origin: Indonesia
Males Size: 46 cm long, up to 800 grams
Female Size: 46 cm long, up to 600 grams
Also known as: White Cockatoo, White Crested Cockatoo, U2
Care Requirements: High
Lifespan: 60-80 Years
Best Suited as: Pet for an Experienced Bird Owner

The Umbrella Cockatoo, originating from Indonesia, is a beautiful white bird with an umbrella shaped crest. These long-lived birds make great pets for some, but owning this bird should not be considered lightly as they can become destructive and demanding. A number of these pets find themselves being shuffled from one owner to the next due to a poor fit within their existing families.

The Umbrella Cockatoo is mostly white except for their yellow colored under-wings and tail base. They are considered a medium sized bird but are one of the largest of the cockatoo species. Their unusual crest is normally flat on their head but when they are excited or fearful their rounded, umbrella-shaped crest is unfolded and raised. The Umbrella Cockatoo’s large, curved and powerful beak is a dark grey color. Females eyes tend to a reddish tint to their feathers while male Umbrella Cockatoos are dark brown. The legs and feet are dark gray.

Umbrella Cockatoos can be gentle, docile, and sweet tempered, especially before they hit puberty at two or three years of age. They can quickly form strong bonds with their owners and are known to “snuggle” unlike many other pet birds. Pet Umbrella Cockatoos that are coddled too much as babies may become too reliant on humans for interaction and become unhappy adults. An unhappy Cockatoo is easy to spot – they can be aggressive, loud, and destructive.

When raised by educated and dedicated bird enthusiasts, the Umbrella Cockatoo can be both affectionate and able to maintain some independence. They can be fun, rowdy and inquisitive. While most are loud, they can be taught to subdue some of the screams they are known for. While some can be taught to speak, they are not known for developing large vocabularies.

Anyone considering adopting a pet Umbrella Cockatoo needs to understand that it will be a lifetime commitment. Because they can outlive their human owners, the long term care of this bird needs to be carefully considered. A novice bird owner will most likely have a difficult time caring for their pet. They can be messy, destructive, and, strong-willed. Anyone who adopts this bird needs to be able to set strong limits and firm rules.

Like all large parrots, Umbrella Cockatoos have hefty appetites. The best diet for your pet Cockatoo should consist of mostly high quality pellets (about 60-75%), fresh fruits, vegetables, and the occasional nuts or seeds. Some of the best vegetables for your bird include: kale, dandelion greens, broccoli, carrots, and squash. Fresh chlorine-free water should be made available at all times. Do not ever give your pet bird chocolate, avocado, salty snacks, green parts of tomatoes or the pits of fruits from the rose family, including pears, peaches, apricots, and cherries.

Umbrella Cockatoos are active birds, and require a great deal of time outside of their cage every day for exercise and playtime.

Umbrella Cockatoos need a fairly large cage that is at least 91 cm long by 91 cm wide by 91 cm high. Space between the cage bars should be no more than 1.5 cm apart.  Since Umbrella Cockatoos are known to be intelligent escape artists, is best to secure the cage door with multiple or extremely secure locks. Although a social bird, their cage should not be placed in a high traffic area where they can become overstimulated.  It is best to find a place that offers enough privacy and sense of security yet is not completely out of the way. The cage should also be placed in a non-drafty area that does not receive direct sunlight. Umbrella Cockatoo’s need 10-15 hours of sleep at night and therefore should not be a place where their slumber will be interrupted.

Inside the cage, there should be a variety of different perches, all which should be at least 22 cm long. They also need to be well anchored. Your Cockatoo will appreciate having things to play with and should also be provided wood toys that can be safely chewed. All toys should be inspected daily and should be cleaned regularly. A shallow bowl of chlorine-free water should also be supplied for supervised bathing.

Health Issues
Umbrella Cockatoos tend to be healthy birds but there are some minor issues that may arise. They are susceptible to Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease (PBFD), fatty liver disease, obesity and bumblefoot. Umbrella cockatoos can be territorial once they have matured, and can be destructive chewers.

If you see your pet wheezing or coughing, favoring one foot, sitting on the floor of their cage, or not eating, call your veterinarian. Fluffed, plucked or soiled feathers, runny stools and eye or nasal discharge are also signs that your bird needs medical attention. By instinct, Umbrella Cockatoos will conceal signs of illness to keep them from looking weak. This is truly detrimental for an owner who is not tuned it to their pet because their bird is often extremely ill before they notice there is a problem.

Suitability as a pet
Umbrella Cockatoos can make good pets if they adopted by a well-informed, dedicated bird owner who is committed to a lifetime with their pet. While they need attention and time with humans, they must also learn how to be independent and not become dependent on excessive amounts of human attention.

Umbrella Cockatoos can be extremely loud and this should be taken into consideration before adopting one. Apartment dwellers or those who may have neighbors that are sensitive to noise are not the ideal owner. Those with small children are also not ideal and this bird should never be left alone with a child or anyone else who is inexperienced in handling him. When they are feeling afraid or upset, the Umbrella Cockatoo will not hesitate in biting a human. Bored Umbrella Cockatoos are known for plucking their feathers. Umbrella cockatoos can be dusty birds, which is a concern for those with allergies.

Umbrella Cockatoos need an owner who can dedicate at least an hour daily to entertaining their pet. Most Cockatoos enjoy being handled and need time to stretch their wings. Some can be taught to mimic speech, but they are not known to be big talkers.

Veterinary Surgeon, London at Blue Cross UK | + posts

A London based Veterinary surgeon, Sanja is also an avid writer and pet advocate.