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In issue 315 -
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The Umbrella Cockatoo, Cacatua alba

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Personality Profile by Sally Blanchard

This very popular Cockatoo gets its name from the way its crest covers its head when the bird is excited. One of the larger Cockatoos at about 18 inches, it is also called the White Cockatoo. Their wild habitat includes several islands in North Maluka, Indonesia. The Umbrella Cockatoo is a CITES II and is considered to be Vulnerable because many of these Cockatoos are still captured illegally and sent to the Indonesian pet trade. There are organisations that are confiscating captured birds from poachers and smugglers and reintroducing the birds back into the wild.

Umbrellas have been successfully bred in captivity for many years, but unfortunately these intelligent birds are one of the most common companion parrots in rescues and sanctuaries. Because of this I have talked with many breeders who no longer breed these Cockatoos as human companions, because they are worried their babies won’t end up in a ‘forever home’. If they are so problematic, why are they still the most popular Cockatoo companion? The basic reason is that if they are well-socialised and raised and maintained with nurturing guidance as human companions, they can be wonderful. When they are good, they are very, very good - most of the time. However if breeders and caregivers don’t provide quality behavioural guidance and the birds are allowed to be in control of their own lives, their pet potential can be lost and Umbrella Cockatoos can become a nightmare.

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