How to Care for an Umbrella Cockatoo

Umbrella Cockatoo Looking Away

Reading up on other guides might make the care of an Umbrella Cockatoo seem difficult, but there’s really only one big thing to understand about them: their personality.


Once you get a good sense of their personality, you’ve unlocked the key to understanding their behavior, and once you understand the behavior, you’re ready to care for them.

Think of this article as an introduction to the wild personality of an Umbrella Cockatoo.

The first thing to understand about these birds is that they’re fickle. Their moods are unpredictable at best and volatile at worst. They can be joking around and having fun one minute and screaming the next.

This fickleness comes from their delicate temperament. There are certain things they like and certain things they can’t stand.

The one big thing they can’t stand is solitudeUmbrella Cockatoos are very affectionate, but more so than that, they’re codependent.

If a cockatoo has a friend it’s grown particularly attached to, it can become extremely depressed if separated from that friend. Such a friend can be another animal or even a human.

Umbrella Cockatoo Head Only

When the cockatoo expresses its unhappiness, it does so by screaming.

As grating as a scream can be on the ears, it’s good in that it’s a non-subtle indicator of the cockatoo’s state of mind. The louder the scream, the more unhappy he or she is.

In addition to screaming, another thing cockatoos do when they’re unhappy is self-mutilate—they pick out their own feathers.

This can be very harmful to the cockatoo after a while, so it’s best to make sure they don’t remain in solitude for long periods of time.

However, plucking and screaming could be due to other behavior or emotional issues besides being left in solitude.

If you have a cockatoo, you have to play with him or her at least one hour out of every day. And again, it’s better to let them have a playmate.

Now you’re starting to get an idea of their personality, now for some information on how to take care of them.


The first thing to know before bringing in a cockatoo into your home is that they live a very long time–up to 70 years, even in captivity–so they can make for a life-long pet.

Like any other animal, their lifespans are usually shortened by captivity, but not if you feed them and care for them the right way. However, it should be noted that the umbrella cockatoo does not make a very good beginner pet.

It’s helpful to think of what cockatoos are like in the wild. Their original habitat is the tropical rainforest, so you can imagine they like warm, moist environments and lots of stimulation.

Umbrella Cockatoo Moving its Head

Also, they’re genetically accustomed to foraging for food, so when feeding them, it’s best to provide somewhat of a challenge for them, like scattering food pellets in with the straw or wood chips of their cage. Products like Nutri-Berries are good for this aspect of a cockatoo’s character.

There are a few foods you should avoid when caring for a cockatoo. Among them are:

  • avocado
  • chocolate
  • caffeine
  • alcohol
  • salty foods
  • dry beans

Check with your veterinarian before giving your cockatoo any new foods.

I mentioned earlier that the cockatoo needs an hour of playtime every day. If you can get more time in, that would work better. Play time doesn’t have to be particularly active. It can just be you bringing your pet out to watch TV with you or to walk around the house.

But before you teach your cockatoo to step out of his cage, you have to make sure you clip his or her wings.

If a cockatoo is able to fly around in the house, injury might occur. If you take the cockatoo outside, he or she might still be able to fly away, so make sure you keep him or her on a harness.

This might seem like a given, but it’s important to not let the cockatoo interact with children; the bird might hurt the child with his or her claws.

Last but not least, it’s of the utmost importance to find a veterinarian who specializes in avian care and to take your cockatoo to see your veterinarian once every year.

Also, you’ll need to take care to observe your cockatoo’s mood and overall demeanor, as well as his or her droppings, to make sure everything is regular. If you suspect anything is amiss, contact your veterinarian immediately.

Watch this video, to get a little bit more of an idea on how to interact with an Umbrella Cockatoo:

In conclusion, umbrella cockatoos are challenging, but long-lasting pets.

If an umbrella cockatoo seems like your cup of tea, make sure you have the personality to accommodate their fickle personalities and needs.

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