-U- Glossary & Dictionary
UMBRELLA COCKATOO (Cacatua alba)
As far as the number of these birds that I have worked with, Umbrella Cockatoos are right up there with Moluccans. Many of the concepts about Moluccans also apply to Umbrellas. Umbrellas have been the most popular of all companion cockatoos for many years and for good reason. I would make the generalization that a well-socialized hen Umbrella cockatoo who receives consistent lifelong nurturing has the potential to be the easiest, most predictably gentle choice for a companion parrot. I have heard several Umbrella owners unabashedly lovingly refer to these gregarious birds as the whores of the bird world because they will accept love from just about anyone. I would also make the generalization that some males are the smartest tricksters in the parrot world. They are great puzzle-solvers and readily learn a number of tricks dealing with the manipulation of items. One man I met showed me how quickly his Umbrella could unsnap a dog collar. Well-raised Umbrellas are affectionate, playful, exuberant, and often love to chatter on and on (and on and on) whether you can understand them or not. One of my favorite Umbrellas would run back and forth along the back of the couch from person to person, taking time only to lean forward and share some intensely important secret with each person ... of course, since she was a phenomenal mumbler, the secret was always safe with her. Umbrellas can be very astute game players and manipulators so it is important that their caregivers set the rules. Spoiled, overdependent Umbrellas can be a nightmare. Don’t spoil them with excessive physical affection ... teach them to be independent, and to play by themselves. Don’t let them become velcro birds who demand cuddling for hours at a time. Umbrella Cockatoos are one of the most cuddly companion birds but caregivers should be careful to keep cuddling to a minimum so it is not perceived as a sexual seduction by the bird. Overdependent Umbrellas who are raised without proper guidance can turn into exceedingly demanding tantrum-throwing birds and screamers. Take advantage of their intelligence, curiosity, and mechanical abilities by introducing new adventures and play opportunities. Males can be very dominant and Nurturing Guidance is essential to maintain a positive relationship with everyone in their lives. Umbrella Cockatoo males have a reputation for severe aggression but this is certainly not true of them all. I’ve met some delightful male Umbrellas; these are birds who had guidance. Umbrella cockatoos can be a puzzle to me as far as their food habits are concerned. It can be difficult to get them to eat a varied diet; however they are infamous for eating all sorts of things that they should not eat. Umbrella cockatoos have a tendency to ingest foreign materials, so caregivers need to be very careful what the birds are allowed to chew on! If you suspect that your Umbrella has ingested anything that could cause him problems, you should take him to the vet immediately. It is far better to spend the money to have a piece of lead washed out of his crop than to wait for it to pass on in the digestive system where it could it could cause serious problems and cost a great deal of money in veterinary care.
We all search in one way or another for love that has no conditions. I believe that dogs are the companion animal most likely to give their caregivers unconditional love. Many people think that their companion parrots provide them with unconditional love. I think that love from a parrot is very conditional and depends greatly on the consistency and guidance of the people in the parrot’s human flock. I have had cockatoo caregivers who have disagreed with me on this, but I think that cockatoos probably get the most upset of all parrots if attention is lessened. While it certainly is debatable, I think that with some cockatoos if they don't get what they need from a person, they would quickly transfer their affections to another person. People can be quite capricious and perhaps a parrot providing us with unconditional love has a lot to do with if we can give them unconditional love ... despite their occasional to frequent inability to adapt to life in our living rooms.
UNDERLYING CAUSE FOR BEHAVIORAL PROBLEMS
A parrot in control of his own life doing a bad job of it is usually the underlying cause of most companion parrot behavior problems. We tend to think that biting, excessive screaming, behavioral feather picking, and other behavioral problems are unrelated to each other but they are usually the symptoms of a far greater (and possible easier to solve) problem, which is a parrot in control of his own life doing a bad job of it. The best way to solve the symptoms is to gradually provide more guidance so the parrot learns about acceptable behavior.
(Also see Verbal Cues) The word used to get a parrot to step on to your hand. The purpose of this the word "up" is not just to get the bird to step on your hand but also is one of the tools used to establish and maintain hand control and maintain a parrot’s potential as a companion. Consistent use of the word up as a request to get a parrot to step on a person's hand also creates consistency in the person's behavior making it clear to the parrot what is expected. There are several situations where if a parrot understands clearly that the word "up" means to step on the person's hand, that they will comply. These include getting a parrot out of his cage, transferring him from one person to another, asking him to step away from danger, and getting him to step from a person's shoulder to his or her hand. .
URATES - Urates are the pasty white to cream colored semi liquid portion of a parrot dropping that surrounds the feces.
The bilobed preen gland is located on a parrot’s back at the base of the spine. When parrots preen they will often rub their beak on this gland and then spread the sebaceous secretion on their feathers. Birds have no sweat glands and only a few sparsely distributed skin glands. The preen gland is their major skin gland. This secretion forms a film of fat over the feathers that keeps them waterproof and helps them from drying out and becoming brittle. The secretion also inhibits the growth of microorganisms. This gland is very well developed in green-winged macaws and budgies, but less developed in cockatiels, cockatoos, lovebirds, African greys, and even blue and gold macaws. Amazons don’t have a uropygial gland. At this time, no one seems to know why some birds have more developed uropygial glands than others, or how some birds get along without them. Occasionally, this gland becomes impacted so if there is any inflammation in this area, take your parrot to see his avian vet. There are also studies that suggest that the substance from the preen gland can be seen by parrots and may actually signal both gender and sexual readiness to other parrots.