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The plumage of the Umbrella Cockatoo is completely white except for a distinct yellow coloration on the underwings and at the base of the tail. They have a large white crest which lays flat on their head, but is raised with alarm, which may include excitement, curiosity, and/or fear. This crest is rounded and umbrella-shaped when raised, thus giving them their name.

When buying an Umbrella Cockatoo, you should know that your pet might be very noisy at times. Their loud caws and screeching usually come from disturbance, fear or lack of attention. They also have a great ability to mimic human speech, although not by forming words. It often comes out as a hilarious, sped up mumbling with an occasional word thrown in. But most of the time, when not silent, they will love chatting, “talking” to you on and on, responding to your words in countless funny ways. While this behavior is utterly charming, it also means that this pet bird won’t be the best choice for apartment dwellers.

The dominant color of Umbrella Cockatoo is white. It covers the entirety of their bodies, with only slight yellow spots beneath their wings which are visible in flight. A large, entirely white bird is a graceful and beautiful sight, and in combination with their prominent black beak and the large crest, it creates a one of a kind pet parrot.

Umbrella cockatoos as pets

I myself (writer of this website) have an Umbrella cockatoo. His name is Coco and he is a great pet. My own experience is that this kind of bird can become really affectionate, tame, cuddly and clowny but is very hard to keep inside of a house because of all the screaming. Even when happy this cockatoo will scream. Mine has a large aviary outside, this works best for both of us. I am lucky that there are no neighbors nearby to take note of the screaming.

Many Umbrella cockatoo end up in shelters and bird sanctuaries. They are bought as cute quiet baby birds that need to be fed by hand with formula. They will grow fast and become very cuddly, affectionate and tame. But when they reach adulthood at around 3 years of age, this cute bird becomes more assertive and much louder. It will start to scream very loudly, destroy furniture as his view of fun and may become aggressive to one specific member of the human family. For many people the situation will become impossible and the bird has to go. Because many people falsely believe and adult cockatoo will not become affectionate to new owners and because it causes trouble with its current owners, it can often not be re-homed and will end up in a sanctuary. It is not true that an older cockatoo cannot get tame or get used to new owners. I got Coco when he was 4 years old and had no problems whatsoever. He is also very friendly to some other people and OK with most visitors.

Care & Feeding

The umbrella  cockatoo is a long-term commitment for an owner — this species can live up to 70 years with proper care and attention. Unfortunately, many of these sensitive birds don’t live that long. They are prone to self-mutilation and the infections that result from that abnormal behavior.

Because this bird is large and hates being confined to the point of chewing and picking out its feathers, it requires a large space to live in, preferably an enormous, well-build cage with a top that opens into a play stand. An umbrella can’t live happily in a small space, and will become weary and apathetic or agitated and aggressive if confined.

The umbrella cockatoo owner should have experience with parrots before taking on this feathered handful. This is not a good first bird, nor is a good child’s pet. The umbrella also tends to become spoiled very easily, and will not take well to changes in routine, or additions to the family, such as an infant or new puppy.

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