How to Raise an Umbrella Cockatoo

Umbrella cockatoos can live to be 100 years old, so be sure you are willing to make a lifelong commitment.

Umbrella cockatoos can live to be 100 years old, so be sure you are willing to make a lifelong commitment.

Raising an umbrella cockatoo isn't for the faint of heart. These birds are high-maintenance and, if not raised right, can become "that white bird from hell" in the blink of an eye. They are loud and demanding, so be really sure you're ready for the commitment.

Items you will need

  • Large parrot cage
  • Food and water dishes
  • Cockatoo food
  • Funds for supplies and veterinary care
  • Parrot gym
  • Cockatoo toys
  • Perches
  • Mirrors
  • Vitamins

Step 1

Set up your cockatoo's cage before bringing your new feathered friend home. For an umbrella cockatoo, the cage should be stainless steel and at least 40 inches wide by 30 inches deep—the bigger the better. You will also need to furnish the cage with perches, toys, puzzles and other things to keep your bird occupied and happy. The cage should be in a relatively high-traffic area so he is not isolated from the family. However, cockatoos need plenty of sleep, at least 10 to 12 hours a day. So if your family is full of night owls and "lights out" isn't until 2 a.m., you will need to be able to easily move the cage to a dark, quiet spot or, at the very least, cover it up.

Step 2

Assemble your cockatoo's food and be sure you have a variety of things for him to eat. He should be offered fresh and dried fruits, vegetables, grains, seeds, nuts, oats, pasta and yams. Provide cockatoo pellets only as a supplement, and if you do provide pellets, do not feed citrus fruit: you will risk overloading him with iron. Learn all you can about cockatoo nutrition and about the diseases your cockatoo is at risk for if his nutritional needs are not met, including what symptoms to watch for. Speaking to someone who has been raising cockatoos for a while is your best way to learn about cockatoo dietary needs. Attend a bird show or find a private breeder in your area so you will not only have a good source to purchase your bird, but a resource in the event you have questions. Before you bring your cockatoo home, ask around and get recommendations about a good avian vet in your area. When your bird is sick is not the time to find out your vet only sees cats and dogs. Some vets specialize in only aviary veterinary medicine while others specialize in exotic pets, which usually includes birds.

Step 3

Learn about the ways cockatoos show affection, play and mate by observing them in the pet store or at the breeder's home. You will need to be able to fulfill your cockatoo's need for attention, affection and interaction, or else you will wind up with a very unhappy cockatoo who will cause a great deal of frustration for you later on when he's plucking his own feathers or screaming out of boredom. Cockatoos in the wild mate for life, so if you cannot provide another cockatoo for your bird, you may be the substitute mate. You'll soon learn you can't ignore these birds when they're in the mood to socialize, but don't make the mistake of spending every waking second with your cockatoo when you first bring him home. He'll come to expect your constant companionship, and when the inevitable honeymoon period is over and you cannot spend as much time with him you will both be frustrated and unhappy.

About the Author

Michelle A. Rivera is the author of many books and articles. She attended the University of Missouri Animal Cruelty School and is certified with the Florida Animal Control Association. She is the executive director of her own nonprofit, Animals 101, Inc. Rivera is an animal-assisted therapist, humane educator, former shelter manager, rescue volunteer coordinator, dog trainer and veterinary technician.

Photo Credits

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