Ask Lafeber


December 3, 2018


Hello! I absolutely love cockatoos and am getting one soon. What breed would be best, which is the most friendly. Do Umbrella Cockatoos make good pets? 🙂


Hi Cassie,

I first want to say that when you do get a pet bird, wait until after the holiday season. Households are busier and schedules are very different right now, and this is not the best time to bring a new pet home.

Cockatoos can be great pets, but I do want to point out that they are probably the most challenging parrot to own. Most people want one because they see a cuddly cockatoo online or as a friend’s pet. They seem very inviting and fun to own. But cockatoos are very intelligent and can also be very demanding and needy. While they start off being super cuddly – and this also depends on the individual bird’s personality – as they grow older they are constantly challenging you with behavioral issues. While this is true with any parrot, it tends to be magnified with cockatoos. The excessive cuddling can cause negative hormonal behavior when the bird becomes mature – in males this can manifest as extreme aggression and with females it can cause chronic egg laying that can endanger her health and life.

If you get a cockatoo, you need to be careful not to over handle it. The bird needs to learn to play by itself and entertain itself. If he relies on you for everything, this is going to be a huge problem in a few years. If you handle him all the time at first, and then stop either because you lose interest or take a new job or get into a new relationship, again, you will have major behavioral issues.

I am not trying to discourage you, but you need to go into pet bird ownership with your eyes wide open, and not because you witnessed a few cute moments out of a bird’s life on YouTube.

Your bird will need a very large cage – especially if you decide on an Umbrella cockatoo – a lot of toys, several perches of various sizes, maybe a swing, a nutritious diet and possibly the largest expense – a good avian vet. Your bird needs a new bird exam which can cost several hundred dollars and then check ups as necessary. Any pet is a financial commitment but a large parrot is probable more expensive to maintain than your average pet.

Please read as much as you can on parrot behavior as well as the different species of parrots before you decide on a bird. And visit a reputable pet/bird store or breeders to handle some birds and see which is the best fit for you.

Here are some links to get you started & have fun with your research! We are here to help when you bring your new friend home.

Caring For Your Bird

Types of Birds

Bird Food Guide

Avian Expert Articles

Happy Holidays!


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