What is it Like Owning an Umbrella Cockatoo?

Katlyn with Besha, her umbrella cockatoo on her shoulder.

The first thing that comes to mind when reading that question is HARD! Everything about owning a bird is not easy, especially a larger bird. I wanted to share a few common questions I get about my Umbrella Cockatoo, Besha, and also what it is like owning a larger bird. 

The first thing I want to share is that if you are thinking of owning a large bird… don’t. Ha! But seriously. They are a lot of work. They require more time and attention than a dog, so don’t think that you can just leave the room without them and they will be fine.. Nope they will scream for you until you bring them along. These are very dependent animals. VERY DEPENDENT. Think as though you have a 2 year old around the house… that never grows up. They need time and attention and a lot of it. If you do not have time or you are away from the house most of the day, a larger bird is not for you.

I don’t say this to deter you from ever owning a bird, but I just want to be honest about how much work and time goes into it. I absolutely love Besha and so does everyone who meets her, but owning a larger bird is not easy or something you can just do when you have the free time. You have to prioritize them, devote your time to them, and make them feel appreciated.

A Few Facts About Birds You Do Not Know

  • They live a LOOOONG time. Besha is 20 years old and she will live another 30-40 years. They are a lifetime commitment. What’s sad is that people don’t know this when they get a large bird and after a few years they end up back at a pet store or a shelter, and that is so traumatizing to a bird because they are smart; they know exactly what you’re doing. If you are not fully committed for almost your whole life, then save the bird’s heartache because they really get attached to you. I fortunately rescued Besha. A family had her for about 5 years and didn’t have time for anymore (super common), so I took her in since I was looking for another bird.
  • They should not be caged up. Birds are very interactive. And the more you interact with them, the more kind they are. Besha is an extremely social bird and she loves people. She will not bite ANYONE (I mean unless you make her mad and taunt her duh), but she just wants to be snuggled and petted and just near people. The same goes for most birds. If you come across a bird who is mean, that is a sign that they are not well socialized. 
  • Girl birds do not talk as much as boys. Besha is a girl so she doesn’t talk too much but instead makes a ton of different noises. Boys talk a lot and pick up words more easily than girls.

Wing Clipping

I do not have Besha’s wings clipped. She is fully flighted and I am well aware that if she wanted to, she can fly away when we go outside. But the thing is that Besha doesn’t like to fly unless she is really scared. She never really flies at all, so I’m not too worried. I also do not want to clip her wings because I feel like wings and the gift of flight is a blessing and is an identity of a bird. If you take that away, they can become depressed or worse, not trust you. I mean I think if I had the ability to fly, I would not want that taken away from me. I also have a dress for her with a leash on it so if I was really worried, I can make sure she doesn’t fly away. 

What it is Like Living with a Cockatoo

Living with a bird is a lot of work and time. If I didn’t work from home, I would not have a bird. I take Besha almost everywhere I go. I love the company and I love how she gets excited when she sees me or Steven. I love how she wants to be cuddled and loved and just be on us. I do have to make sure her cage is huge and has lots of toys so she doesn’t get bored if I ever do have to leave the house. I also have to cover her cage at night so she doesn’t get night terrors by shadows. I have to meal prep her food to make sure she gets the right nutrition and a well balanced diet. She is a very well behaved bird and everyone that meets her loves her.


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