When Umbrella Cockatoos are young, they are usually gentle and affectionate. This is the age when most people bring them home, thinking the bird will have this temperament for a lifetime. When the Cockatoo grows up, usually around the ages of 3 to 5 years, their personalities can change drastically. Umbrella Cockatoos are exceedingly intelligent and can be wonderful pets. But proper care must be given throughout their lives to avoid behavior problems.
Biting is a serious issue with Umbrella Cockatoos, and is often not stemmed when they are little because the playful little nips when they are young are not so bothersome to owners. But this behavior problem, like all others with these birds, must be addressed while the bird is young. It is much harder to train as the bird grows older, and the playful nipping can turn into aggressive biting. A bite from an Umbrella Cockatoo will break skin and even bone, and could result in the loss of a finger. Make sure the bird has plenty of toys to chew on. Train the bird's other behavior issues and the biting will often cease.
Umbrella Cockatoos scream very loudly - loud enough to cause hearing damage. They scream because they want attention. They need a lot of playtime and stimulation. They like to be out of their cages for hours at a time. When the bird is young, he needs to be taught to entertain himself. When the bird screams, never give him attention. The bird does not understand that he's being told to be quiet. He only knows that every time he screams, you talk to him. In fact, experts at Cockatoo Answers suggest leaving the room when he screams. Animals are results-oriented in their behavior. The bird will learn that you leave when he screams and will stop.
Although Umbrella Cockatoos are extremely cuddly and lovable pets when they are happy, they tend to avoid their owners when distressed. Again, this needs to be addressed when they are young. While it is novel, in the beginning, to walk around with your bird on your shoulder for hours, you will pay for it later when he expects it all the time. Some people think the bird is being sullen and avoiding interaction is the lesser of two evils, compared to screaming. This behavior is a precursor, though, to even worse behavior, such as biting. An even schedule of attention and imposed independence when the bird is young will teach the cockatoo that he's not the center of the household.
Pulling Out Feathers
For many owners of Umbrella Cockatoos, the fact that the bird will pull his own feathers out is the worst behavior problem of all. One reason for this is simpler than behavior issues. He may be plucking them due to a problem with his diet. If he is not receiving the proper nutrients, your vet can help you establish a balanced diet. Umbrellas also pluck their feathers due to a lack of stimulation. Make sure the bird has plenty of toys and change them regularly so the cockatoo does not grow bored.