How to Breed an Umbrella Cockatoo

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Breeding umbrella cockatoos in captivity can be a challenging yet rewarding experience since these birds are considered "vulnerable" and may someday be listed as endangered. However, breeding should never be attempted by a beginner aviculturist. These spectacular birds require a good deal of care and preparation before they can be allowed to breed, and even when the proper conditions are met, sometimes it just “won’t happen.” If you follow some basic guidelines to caring for your umbrella cockatoos, you can provide the birds and yourself with the best possible chance for reproduction.

Things You'll Need

  • 2 umbrella cockatoos, sexed, or several young umbrella cockatoos to establish breeding pair
  • Roomy aviary or flight cage
  • High-quality umbrella cockatoo food
  • Nest box or hallowed tree stump, 5 inches above ground
  • Acquire a sexed pair of birds or establish a breeding pair. This can be done in a number of ways, including buying an established pair of birds from a breeder or another enthusiast. The best way to establish a breeding pair is to get a few young cockatoos and allow them to pair up naturally.

  • Move both birds into a large flight or aviary to give them the most room possible for exercise (only once you are certain that your cockatoos are compatible and friendly toward each other). An aviary that is a minimum of 2 feet by 2 feet by 3 feet high for small umbrella cockatoos is good. If you regularly clip your birds’ wings, allow them to grow in so the cockatoos may fly freely within the aviary. Make sure other cockatoos are not visible from the aviary; the quieter, the better.

  • Provide your umbrella cockatoos with a variety of seeds, nuts, fruits and commercial pellets, as well as nutritional supplements, for at least two months before you introduce a nest box.

  • Install a large cockatoo nest box (“boot”-shaped boxes are popular selections) with a 5-inch entrance hole, or, if possible, offer a hollowed tree stump raised to 5 feet off the ground. Fill the box 4 inches deep with wood chips. The best breeding success comes with mimicking the birds’ natural breeding season, which is from December to April.

  • Wait. Sometimes the mere sight of a nest box will get nature in motion for established pairs, but oftentimes your cockatoos may continue on in blissful ignorance as to what is expected of them. Observe the birds carefully for any signs of aggression, and continue to provide high-quality food until they choose to mate.

Tips & Warnings

  • Once the birds have mated, the female will generally lay two eggs, which she and the male incubate for around 28 days. The young are weaned at about three months.
  • Always determine the reason the owner is selling the pair before you purchase birds from a breeder or enthusiast; make sure there are no outstanding health issues or other negative reasons the birds are being given up.
  • Cockatoos bond for life, and forcing a bond with two strange birds can result in serious harm or even fatalities. If you attempt to pair two adult birds, give them plenty of time to get to know each other on neutral ground before you house them together.
  • Always be aware of your birds' interactions with each other, and remove the female from the aviary if the male begins showing any signs of aggression.

References

  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images
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