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Umbrella / White Cockatoo
Scientific Name -

Cacatua Alba

Distribution -

Description -
Weight: 300 - 1100 gm.
Size: Approximately 16 inches in length.
Distinct Markings: Overall white with under sides of wing and tail yellow, black bill, light blue eye ring.
Life Span: maximum unknown but possible up to 60 years.
Age at maturity: Small species 1-2 years medium species - 2-4 years large species - 3-5 years.

The Cockatoos are recognized by their colors, generally white, pink or black. They all have crests which may be recumbent (lie down on back of head when not erect) or recurved (curl upward in back). Cockatoos are medium to large sized parrots. They have patches of down feathers on their flanks which produce powder (powder down) which help to keep their plumage soft and clean.

Behavior/Aviculture -
Cockatoos are affectionate and highly intelligent birds. Cockatoos are excellent companion birds for those who want a charming, loving bird which likes to cuddle. Cockatoos can be very demanding of attention and if they are deprived of attention can become very noisy and destructive or turn to plucking or self mutilation behavior. Imprinted cockatoos may become possessive of their owners which can lead to unpredictable or aggressive behavior towards other people.

Cockatoos are playful and inquisitive and love to chew objects in their surroundings. They should always be provided with toys, or branches which they can chew. In order to ensure safety companion cockatoos should not be allowed unsupervised freedom in the home as they often encounter toxins or dangerous items. Young cockatoos should be socialized to many people and exposed to a variety of situations such as new cages, toys, visits to the veterinarian, handling by friends, wing and nail clips, etc. to avoid fear of novel situations.

Routine bathing or showering is vital to maintaining good plumage and skin condition. Birds can be misted and allowed to dry in a warm room or in the sun, or dried with a blow drier. Care should be taken not to clip the wing feathers excessively as cockatoos often fall and injure themselves. Clip only enough so the bird will glide to the floor.

All companion and breeding birds should be individually identified to assist in recovery if lost and assist in maintenance of medical and genealogical records. Many breeders apply closed legs bands when chicks are young. While they present a slight risk of entrapment closed bands are preferable to no identification, especially for breeding birds. Microchips which can be implanted into the muscle or under the skin are a reliable means of identification but require electronic readers to verify identification. Tattoos may be used but often fade or become illegible with time. Foot prints may have some application in identification.

Most of the white cockatoos species can be sexed by eye color when mature, The eyes of the female are red while the eyes of the male are dark brown or black. In moluccan cockatoos the eye color can only be differentiated with a bright light. In some species of black cockatoos the feather coloration varies with the sex. In some species, young birds and some individuals, sexing by endoscopy or laboratory methods may be required.

Cockatoos are very active and should be provided the largest cage that space and budget allows. As cockatoos are strong chewers, durable cage construction in very important. Many are also adept at opening cage latches. Locks or escape proof latches may be necessary on cages. Cage design or management for breeders should also take into consideration techniques for reducing mate aggression.

Diet -
Bare-Eyed Cockatoos should be fed a formulated (pelleted or extruded diet) as a basis for good nutrition. The diet should be supplemented with fresh fruits and vegetables daily to add variety and psychological enrichment. Treats maybe given in small amounts especially as rewards for good behavior.

Some species of cockatoos are very efficient in utilization of calories. If overfed they may become obese especially when handrearing. Juvenile cockatoos are notoriously picky eaters and don't seem to need much food to maintain themselves. Try to ensure that the food that they do eat is nutritious. Some cockatoos, such palm cockatoos need large quantities and higher fat foods. Rosebrested cockatoos have a tendency toward obesity and may need caloric restriction to maintain optimum weight.

Vitamin supplements are not needed for birds which are eating a formulated diet. For Conversion see our brochure on Converting your seed eating bird to a formulated diet.

Breeding Information -
Cockatoos breed well in captivity and several species are bred commonly in the United States. Some species, like the black cockatoos are difficult to breed.

In North America cockatoos breed predominantly in the winter and spring. Some pairs may produce year round. Clutch size is typically 1 to 3 eggs.
Nest Box: variable size and type depending on the species. Double entrance boxes are often used to reduce the chance of the male trapping the female in the box.
Cage size: variable depending on the size of the bird. Cage construction and management must take into consideration techniques to reduce mate aggression.

When breeding cockatoos, noise and proximity to neighbors must be considered. If housed outdoors cockatoos often call at night during a full moon. In southern states outdoor caging must be protected from opossums to prevent exposure to the parasite Sarcocystis falcatula. Males wings should be clipped in the fall (before breeding season) to reduce ability to attack the hen.

Common Diseases And Disorders -
Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease
Self mutilation
Juvenile chewing of flight feathers and tail
Poor eating habits - picky eaters
Obesity - Lipomas (some species)
Bacterial and fungal infections
Cloacal prolapse
Mate aggression
Toxicity, ingestion of metals

Many common health problems of cockatoos and be prevented by good diet, nutrition and routine health care. Routine veterinary examination (annually) can help you to keep your pet in excellent health and enhance your relationship with your bird.

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