These white birds can be easily mistaken for a snowy owl by any enthusiastic Potter fan, or maybe just a clueless writer. With the ability to talk and mimic sounds, similar to a parrot, the White Cockatoo makes for a beautiful and entertaining animal to observe.
The White Cockatoo lives up to its name, sporting white feathers all over their body. The only place not pure white is its feet, beak, eyes, tail, and plume. Their eyes are usually a black or reddish-brown color and their legs and beak are dark gray. Their plumes, from which they get their alternative name of “Umbrella Cockatoo” for its appearance when fanned out, has a pale, lemon yellow color. Their tails are often the same color as their umbrella-like head crest.
We brought you fifteen interesting facts about the White Cockatoo that will make you say, “Hm, that’s interesting.” So whether you are a potential pet owner, an avid bird enthusiast, or just a curious browser, read on to learn more about this beautiful bird.
The White Cockatoo Can Stand Under an Umbrella
The alternate name for the White Cockatoo is the Umbrella Cockatoo. This name was given to this bird because of its unique, feathered head crest. When surprised, the White Cockatoo can extend a ring of feathers around its head that resemble a small, white umbrella.
Although it probably does not offer much protection from rain, the White Cockatoo’s makeshift umbrella is still a cool trait to observe.
The White Cockatoo Likes Pina Coladas and Getting Caught In the Rain
Though any alcoholic beverage may not be a good idea for the White Cockatoo to drink, it probably does get caught in a lot of rain. Being native to the tropical rainforests on the islands of Indonesia, the White Cockatoo is accustomed to hot, humid, and tropical conditions.
Nowadays, the White Cockatoo can be found anywhere in the world being kept as a pet. It is valued in the pet bird world and can make quite the personable companion bird.
The White Cockatoo is a Lifelong Partner
The White Cockatoo has along lifespan of thirty years if living in the wild. If they live in captivity as a pet, their lifespan can be even longer – up to 40 years. The oldest living Cockatoo was recorded to have lived 83 years!
This means if you are looking into buying a White Cockatoo as a pet, be ready to have a lifelong partner. Also, be sure you are ready to provide the care it needs for that long.
When It Comes to the White Cockatoo, Size Matters
If you are curious about how to distinguish between a male and female White Cockatoo with a glance, just compare the size of their beaks and heads. Female White Cockatoos tend to have smaller beaks and heads compared to that of a male White Cockatoo.
Another way to tell the sexes apart, though this will require closer observation, is to compare the color of their eyes. Both sexes have blue rings around their eyes, but females have a reddish color in their iris and males have a dark brown color.
However, if you do not have two White Cockatoos side by side to compare their traits, odds are you will have a very hard time distinguishing their sex. The most accurate way is through a DNA test.
White Cockatoos Make Great Pets
In the bird world, White Cockatoos are valued as pets for their affection towards and bonding with humans. Owners like the companionship this brings. White Cockatoos can even mimic sounds and words you say, although, when compared to other parrots, this skill is not as strong in the White Cockatoo.
However, their popularity has a dark side. Since they are valued so highly by pet owners, White Cockatoos are often exploited. This endangerment has happened to such an extent that their rapidly dropping numbers make White Cockatoos to be classified as vulnerable and face a high risk of extinction in the wild.
White Cockatoos are Strictly Monogamous Creatures
White Cockatoos are known to mate with one partner for life. That’s one single partner they keep for their whole half-century lifespan.
Their bond to their monogamous mate can be so strong that anything that breaks that bond – death, separation, etc. – can cause depression and ill health effects in the Cockatoo.
White Cockatoos are Proficient Tool Users
White Cockatoos are known to be highly intelligent birds. They have been observed to use tools to solve puzzles: sticks to scratch their backs and bang on trees for intimidation, toys for playtime, and even language to communicate with their owner.
This high level of intelligence means that they require a high level of care. Owners of White Cockatoos need to give these birds constant attention and engage them in intellectual and physically-provoking play.
White Cockatoos are Zygodactyl
Although this sounds like some long-extinct species of dinosaur, zygodactyl refers to the dexterity of the White Cockatoo’s feet. This bird has two toes that point forward and two that point back.
This toe configuration, similar to that of many other parrots and birds, allows the White Cockatoo to easily perch on branches, climb effectively, and even use their feet in much the same way us humans use our opposable-thumbed hands.
White Cockatoos are Speed Demons
White Cockatoos sport an impressive wingspan. Their lengthy and broad wings allow them to reach flight speeds of up to 45 miles per hour (70 kilometers per hour).
This allows them to cover great distances in the jungle and catch their insect prey by surprise and enjoy a tasty meal.
This Bird is a Social Butterfly
The White Cockatoo is a very social animal. It travels in packs for a majority of its life and, as mentioned before, enjoys a lengthy, monogamous relationship with their partner.
The White Cockatoo can mimic many different sounds, including human speech. In the wild, they use this skill to communicate with the flock. They use this communication for many things, including recognizing other birds in the flock, alerting to predators, maintaining order in the flock, and even expressing their mood at the moment.
The White Cockatoo is Far from a Deadbeat Dad
After breeding, which usually happens once a year, the female White Cockatoo will lay between one and six eggs. For the thirty days before the eggs hatch, both the male and female White Cockatoo will take turns sitting on the eggs to incubate them and keep them moist.
About four months after hatching, all the while being cared for and fed by both mom and dad, the White Cockatoo chick will start learning to fly. This trial and error period and the strengthening of their wings are, again, supervised and helped along by both the male and female.
There are Many Stories on the Origin of the White Cockatoo’s Name
Since the White Cockatoo is indigenous to the islands of Indonesia, let’s start with the Indonesian story. The Indonesian word for this bird is kakaktua, which means “older sibling. You can see the resemblance between this name and Cockatoo, right?
Another story holds that the Cockatoo got its name from the sound it often makes. Not as fun of a story but one that stuck. In some parts of the world, the arrival of a Cockatoo signals the coming of welcome rain. I bet many people would love to hear this sound when the weather is feeling dry.
White Cockatoos are Diurnal
Another difference that sets these snowy white birds apart from their owl counterparts is their sleep habits. Whereas owls are nocturnal, sleeping for most of the day and flying about at night, White Cockatoos sleep at night and use the daylight to forage for food.
Speaking of food, White Cockatoos are mainly vegetarians eating mostly fruits, nuts, and leaves. However, White Cockatoos also occasionally eat insects and worms when they are available.
Their Umbrella Crest is Like a Feathered Mood Ring
The crest of feathers that surrounds the White Cockatoos head is a great indicator of its mood. If it is raised in umbrella mode, odds are that’s not a good sign. This could mean they are agitated, angry, or hostile. Then again, it can also mean that they are excited.
If their crest is back, your White Cockatoo is feeling submissive. If the crest is relaxed in a neutral position, they are either resting, eating, or in a relaxed and happy state.
White Cockatoos Do Not Like to be Confined
Used to living in the wide-open spaces of the jungle, the White Cockatoo does not like to be kept in a small, enclosed space. Combine their need for space with their large size and you get a messy situation waiting to happen if you try to confine these birds to a cage.
The White Cockatoo’s dislike for confinement is so much that, kept in a cage for long enough, they will resort to self-harm and self-mutilation. Besides the obvious and sad problems this behavior poses, it can also lead to infections and other long term health problems.
If you own a White Cockatoo, make sure you do not keep it in a cage the whole day. Give it the proper space it needs to fly and play around in.