Umbrella Cockatoo

Umbrella Cockatoo
Scientific NameCacatua alba
Common NameUmbrella Cockatoo
Care LevelAdvanced
Lifespan40-70 years
Adult Size18-24 inches
DietSeeds, nuts, fruits, vegetables
OriginIndonesia, specifically the Maluku Islands
TemperamentAffectionate, vocal, demanding

History & Domestication

Originating from the Maluku Islands in Indonesia, the Umbrella Cockatoo is named for its impressive, umbrella-like crest that it fans out when excited, frightened, or displaying. These birds have a long history of being kept in captivity due to their captivating personalities and mesmerizing appearances.

Their presence as companion animals dates back several centuries, primarily among the elite and royalty. With the expansion of global trade, the allure of the Umbrella Cockatoo reached many western nations, leading to an increase in their popularity as pets.


Umbrella Cockatoos are sizable birds, typically standing between 18 and 24 inches from beak to tail when fully grown. Their significant size requires spacious living conditions to ensure their comfort and well-being.


With a lifespan that can range between 40 and 70 years (or even longer in some instances with optimal care), these birds are a lifelong commitment. Their longevity is both a testament to their resilience and a reminder of the dedication required from potential caregivers.


In their natural environment, Umbrella Cockatoos breed once a year, laying one to three eggs in tree hollows. In captivity, with the right conditions, they can reproduce more frequently. Both parents participate in incubating the eggs, which lasts about 28 days, and subsequently feeding the chicks.

Unique Features

The most distinctive feature of the Umbrella Cockatoo is, without a doubt, its crest. Composed of white feathers, it resembles an open umbrella when fully extended. The bird uses this crest to express various emotions, making it a central part of its non-verbal communication.

Behavior and Temperament

Umbrella Cockatoos are incredibly social, intelligent, and affectionate birds. They form strong bonds with their caregivers and require significant interaction to thrive mentally. However, they are also known for being one of the noisiest parrots, which can pose challenges in certain living situations. If neglected or bored, they might resort to destructive behaviors or self-mutilation.


Regular handling and interaction are crucial. Due to their intelligence, they benefit from training sessions, learning tricks, commands, and even some mimicry of words. Positive reinforcement is the best approach when training these sensitive birds.

Grooming Needs

Routine grooming is essential for Umbrella Cockatoos. This includes wing clipping (if chosen), nail trimming, and occasional beak checks. Regular showers or misting sessions are also beneficial, ensuring their skin and feathers remain in good condition.

Diet & Nutrition

Umbrella Cockatoos require a balanced diet to maintain optimal health. While seeds and nuts form a part of their diet, it’s crucial to offer them a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables. Pelleted diets designed for cockatoos can also be integrated. Fresh water, changed daily, is a must.


Being tropical birds, they prefer warmer climates. However, they are adaptable, and as long as they are shielded from extreme cold and drafts, they fare well. If kept outdoors in cooler climates, provisions should be made to ensure they stay warm.

Common Health Issues

Umbrella Cockatoos are prone to various health issues, such as fatty liver disease, respiratory problems, and feather plucking. Regular check-ups with an avian veterinarian can help prevent and address these problems early on.

Habitat Requirements

A large, sturdy cage is essential. Given their size and propensity for chewing, everything within their living space needs to be both spacious and durable. Ample perches, toys, and climbing structures can help cater to their playful and curious nature.

Cost of Care

Owning an Umbrella Cockatoo is not just a significant time commitment but also a financial one. The initial cost of the bird, combined with a suitable cage, toys, food, and regular veterinary care, can be substantial. Given their long lifespan, this financial commitment extends over many decades, and potential owners should be well-prepared for this.

Umbrella Cockatoo FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)