UMBRELLA COCKATOO Cacatua alba» Also called the White cockatoo» About 18" Range includes several islands in North Maluka, Indonesia» CITES II Considered to be Vulnerable because of the pet trade. » Many are still captured illegally and sent to the Indonesian pet tradeAs far as the number of these birds that I have worked with, Umbrella Cockatoos are right up there with Moluccans. 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 female 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 leash.
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 to the games. Poorly socialized, 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 screamers. Take advantage of their intelligence, curiosity, and mechanical abilities by introducing new adventures and play opportunities. Umbrellas, like all cockatoos and other parrots, will do much better with a lot of instructional interaction rather than cuddling and coddling. Teaching behaviors and tricks is only part of Nurturing Guidance and can come in handy to distract Umbrella cockatoos from negative behaviors.
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. Maintaining a calm demeanor around over-excited birds can help any aggressive behavior from escalating.
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.
I repeat that I have observed that cockatoos, including Umbrellas, do very poorly on pelleted diets and stay much healthier on a fresh food diet of veggies, some fruit, quinoa and whole grains.