Umbrella Cockatoo

Overall satisfaction


Acquired: Rescue / shelter organization

Gender: Male



Friendly with owner


Friendly with family






Song-vocal quality


Mimics sounds-words




Easy to feed


Easy to clean and maintain habitat


Umbrella Cockatoos


United States

Posted Mar 04, 2015

As the adoption coordinator for a large avian rescue, I may have a slightly different view on Umbrella Cockatoos as a species than the average bird owner. I absolutely believe that the breeding of Cockatoos for the pet trade should be banned. While they are often friendly and lovable almost to a fault, they can also be moody, aggressive and incredibly loud if they are not getting what they want. The bite of a U2 can very easily land you in the Emergency Room. The scream can send you and the rest of the family clamoring for a quiet spot.. and you'd better get used to these negative behaviors because even if you are given an Umbrella Cockatoo as a gift on the day you're born, it's still likely to outlive you!

Baby came to us from an animal abandonment case in 2013. He had been living in a parakeet cage with no perches for a number of years. He was filthy, significantly underweight and his feet were completely atrophied. Also, his band had gotten jammed into his knee joint and had to be removed. The nerve damage to his left foot is complete and irreversible. The prognosis wasn't the best, but he is a very friendly bird and has come a long way in the last year and a half. Baby has become part of our family and we can't imagine life without him.

But there's always a "but..." Baby, in the hormonal throes of the breeding season, has bitten me to the bone on one of my fingers, leaving a scar, a deformed fingernail and long-term nerve damage. He has taken to screaming when he is not getting attention. Because of this we had to remove him from our reception area at the rescue because he often became a huge distraction to visitors and scared other rescue birds. The screaming is a nightly thing -- some nights better and worse than others, but no matter what... you can hardly hear yourself think when it's going on.

The two behaviors listed above are a couple of the main reasons why so many Umbrella Cockatoos end up in rescues. Their longevity is an even greater reason -- the average cockatoo goes through at least four homes in its lifetime.

When they're babies, U2's are called "Velcro birds" because they bond so closely to humans that they don't understand how to just be birds. They often suffer from separation anxiety that can turn a sweet, cuddly bird into an angry, biting mess even before puberty hits, bringing all the hormonal fun and games with it.

I know some people will vehemently disagree, but these animals just don't make good pets. And that is coming from someone who has two of them. I love them both and, as I stated, they're part of our family... but over the long haul, they are just an extraordinarily difficult animal to own as a pet. They will likely both outlive me (even though one is over fifty years old) and will almost certainly not remain in our home for the remainder of their lives.

Is such a long life, bouncing from home to home, with all sorts of varying conditions and environments, fair to such an intelligent, long-lived animal?

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