Species group: Cockatoos
Other common names: White Cockatoo; White-crested Cockatoo; U2
Scientific name: Cacatua alba
The beautiful white Umbrella Cockatoo with its huge white crest is one of the most highly coveted parrots. They are intelligent and can be trained to open their wings to flash you the yellow underneath the wings and tail. With brains and beauty in the package, along with a desire to be cuddled or petted all over, this cockatoo is hard to resist, especially as a sweet love bug of a baby.
However, they don't stay babies forever, and most people should not consider the Umbrella Cockatoo as a pet until they have received hands-on training from an expert. A tiger is beautiful, but you would not consider bringing a baby tiger home unless you'd had a very strong grounding in handling unpredictable wild animals. Develop your best parrot handling skills, and then you can think about acquiring one of these beautiful birds.
A further warning: Cockatoos are powder down birds, and you should not obtain an Umbrella Cockatoo if anyone in the home suffers from allergies or asthma. Most of them are capable of extremely loud contact calls, or early morning “wake-up calls,” and it is also strongly recommended against choosing any large cockatoo if you live in an apartment or have nearby neighbors.
The Umbrella Cockatoo is found in the northern Moluccas, an archipelago within the nation of Indonesia. Like their counterpart in the southern Moluccas, the Moluccan Cockatoo, they have faced over-collecting for the pet trade and heavy deforestation. Like the Moluccan, they are ranked by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) as a vulnerable species. However, observers point out that the Umbrella Cockatoo is more tolerant of disturbed areas, so this adaptable bird may beat the odds against its survival.
A large white cockatoo with an impressive white crest.
550 grams (19 oz.)
46 centimeters (18 in.)
50 - 65 years
Behavior / temperament:
Cockatoos are probably more often given up for rescue or rehoming than any other bird. Alas, even the beautiful Umbrella Cockatoo plays a role in adding to that sorry statistic. A big problem is that these cuddly birds love to be hugged, petted, and attached to you by the hour when they are babies, and unfortunately they continue to expect this intensive cuddling when they are older. Get training before you get the bird, and continue the training after you get the bird. You need to establish limits early, so that the bird does not expect you to carry it everywhere by the hour forever.
One tip: At the first hint of any trouble with feather plucking, see an avian vet for the proper tests. Don't assume that your Umbrella Cockatoo is neurotic. There are some serious feather issues that can affect cockatoos, and you need to have the bird examined and treated for any underlying physical disease before you assume that the plucking is a psychological problem.
That said, there are many behavioral problems that can occur with the Umbrella Cockatoo, including incessant screaming, feather-plucking, and angry, territorial biting. Don't just read a parrot book or two, and call the job done. Get hands-on lessons from a good trainer or behaviorist who can work with you. Some owners describe their U2s incredibly sweet. But they didn't get that way by accident. Spare no expense for the best experts, the best food, and the best equipment for your Umbrella Cockatoo.
Some people recommend a walk-in aviary for the Umbrella Cockatoo – excellent advice if you're a zoo, a breeder, or an aviary owner with a well-trained staff. If you're really just an individual bird owner, try the largest flight or aviary you can buy that still allows for the food and water dishes to be serviced from outside, especially if you have an older male rescue bird. You may be an expert at handling the 'too on his home territory, but what about when you're called out of town, and a pet sitter or a family member has to take over the job? They may need a way to help out without necessarily stepping into the aviary.
The Umbrella Cockatoo loves to chew. You will want to place sturdy manzanita perches in areas where you don't want to change the perches a lot. You will also want to be able to remove and add toys, chew items, and bird-safe tree trimmings to give your pet plenty of opportunity to exercise that busy beak. The cage itself should be a powder-coated metal cage of at least 60” wide by 42” deep by 60 “tall with a bar spacing of around 1-1/2 inches. Caution: U2s are one of the species that can pick locks, turn keys, and even remove screws. Use strong padlocks, and do not leave the keys in the locks.
Have play gyms with plenty of chew items and foraging or puzzle toys. Have plenty of perches. However, consider the height of the perches. Don't place the Umbrella Cockatoo in a position of dominance and then expect the bird to remain sweet. Some people have a small sleep cage in a quiet area, which can be a great idea, if it gives your pet a dark, quiet place to get 10 to 12 hours of uninterrupted sleep.
Teach your Umbrella Cockatoo to step on a hand-held perch on command, so that you can easily bring the bird to a play gym. Have more toys and chew items in the play space. It may sound a little counter-intuitive, but a highly intelligent cockatoo does not always understand what a toy is for, until you demonstrate by playing with the toy yourself. Remember, the more intelligent the pet, the more it learns from being taught, rather than just going by instinct.
Domestic-bred Umbrella Cockatoos are known to sometimes get too fat or to develop fatty liver disease, so you need to provide a varied diet that isn't too high in fat, carbs, or simple sugars. You may offer some small seed mix – 10% or less of the diet - but limit access to higher fat larger seeds such as sunflower. The core of the diet should be a good cockatoo pellet or a high quality commercial or homemade “soak and cook” mix that contains well-cooked beans, grains, and vegetables, as well as well-sprouted seed. Learn how to make a chopped salad containing lots of vegetables and greens, as well as some fruit.
If you suspect that your Umbrella is a little too hyper and getting too much sugar, then you can hold back the fruit for trick training, foraging games, or to offer by hand as part of a bonding exercise. Nuts and sunflower seed should be restricted to use for trick training or foraging exercise if the bird is overweight. It is best to consult with an avian vet, from the very beginning, to get an expert's opinion of your pet's proper weight.
Never feed avocado or chocolate to any cockatoo. These foods are toxic to all parrots.
Written by Elaine Radford
sweet disposition, insatiably curious minds, gorgeous crest, comedic antics, devoted companion
screaming, feather picking, loud bird, hormonal changes, neurotic behavior, eviction machine
constant stimulation, large habitat, longlived birds, excellent dancers
Ozzie Awesome and Loud
I have been pet sitting Ozzie the Umbrella Cockatoo for three years. He is quite the handsome and charming character. When you pull up to the driveway of his house; you can hear him telling the barking dogs to shut up. He has an impressive vocabulary, about 30 words. He also has learned to mimic sounds, such as the doorbell chime. At times he can get very, very LOUD. The poor dogs will run for cover; when Ozzie cuts loose with his squawks. When I walk in, he is very happy to see me. He will even wave at me. His cage needs to be cleaned daily because he can be extremely messy. His water requires to be changed in the morning and in the evening. He loves to eat pistachios, grapes, corn on the cob and apples. Ozzie needs a lot of attention. I was told by the owner that if he doesn’t get attention, he plucks his own feathers. So I make sure to pet him and give him his special treats. Ozzie also enjoys playing with his toys, he goes through them pretty quickly. He has a powerful beak that break through most bird toys. Umbrella Cockatoos are awesome but they require a lot of your attention and patience on the "loud" factor. .
From Martha Oct 16 2016 7:49PM
Umbrella Cockatoo - The Possessive Lover
In my time fostering rescue birds I've fostered over 15 umbrella cockatoos and I have one male, Roman, as a pet. I've had Roman since I was 16, I am 27 now. Roman was a rescue bird as well, my first. And like every eager kid I was excited to bring home a new pet, one that would talk to me and one that would perform cool tricks. Of course I knew being re-homed he had to have his issues, feather plucking, nippyness, aggressive behavior, a fear of hands. But I was determined to help him through all of it, give him a home where he could be trained to his full potential and given the proper care. Fortunately when I got Roman he wasn't a bird with aggression issues (yet), in fact he was extremely loving. His only real issue was the SCREAMING. If you think a macaw is bad, and although cockatoos are not as notorious for screaming as them, wait till you own a cockatoo. And while some birds are easier to help than others, most of the time there is so many different causes for the screaming that it is hard to treat every single one. I can tell you that in the past I've been able to keep macaw screaming to a minimum more than that of a cockatoo. I remember a time I broke down crying in frustration, unable to stop the bird from his antics. You have to be very well aware that this could be you at any point when owning a cockatoo. EVEN acquiring a hand fed baby, the sweetest little guy in the world will have his moments too. Now back to Roman.
The feather plucking wasn't so severe, he came to me from his old home because the owner got very busy. I spent every possible waking moment with Roman, we ate every meal together and I would even let him sleep with me sometimes. Yes. Sleep. In the bed. He loved to cuddle. Little did I know my over spoiling was doing him more harm than it ever possibly could do good. When I got a life, a JOB, everything went downhill. He became aggressive, if anyone came into the room while it was just me and him he would fly and attack them. It led to me having to clip his wings, at this point I had free flight trained him so it took a huge toll on him mentally. It all became a SERIOUS issue, and it was ALL my fault. The feather plucking became severe and the screaming even worse. To this day I am working on rehabilitating Roman from the damaged I HAD caused. Simply by giving him TOO much attention. Now this is a bird that is more cuddly than ANY cat I've owned! A complete sweetheart, and a total clown. He is my pride and joy. So it is tempting for anyone to want to cuddle with this bird on any given chance. But the problem with this is they begin to expect it every single day, and the moment all that wonderful love ceases even a little bit you can really mess your bird up. They are birds that mate for LIFE, and you are in turn presenting yourself as their mate with all this attention. Which is why I like to refer to this bird as the possessive lover. Other than that, if you don't have the proper knowledge in owning a bird of this size you are in for a world of trouble. Fail to provide your umbrella cockatoo with the proper mental stimulation and environmental need, you'll soon result to giving the bird up. Please think twice before buying one of these little cuddle bugs, for both of your sakes. You have a duty as a bird owner to properly give them the life they deserve in captivity..
From OhLeeks Jan 25 2015 3:55PM
Cuddles was an incredibly affectionate bird - but to me only. She tried to attack and harm both of my parents frequently (so we had to re-home her unfortunately). Cockatoos are a lot of work. They require constant attention and need to be pet and near humans. They become depressed and nasty if they are not played with at least once a day. Cuddles could be extremely vocal, but could not mimic words. She could make an almost operatic noise with her voice and it was ear piercing. Cockatoos are notorious for cuddling up to your neck and actually trying to snuggle with you. Like I said, extremely affectionate, but absolutely killer to people they do not like. Definitely a bird for one person only. But, they are easy to feed, they'll eat just about anything and they do sleep when the sun goes down, and remain asleep for about 12 hours. Do you research before considering owning a cockatoo..
From Faswaldo Jan 23 2015 11:44AM