Ask Lafeber


May 12, 2020

Umbrella Cockatoo has laid an egg

I watched your Webinar last week and asked a question about our Cockatoo. It didn’t get answered, but the situation has changed….

Original question:

23 year old female Umbrella Cockatoo.  She has been with us just 12 months.  Everytime she is with me she is “huffy” – if you get what I mean.  She will even be “huffy” on her own in the cage.  I know not to encourage her so if she tries to cuddle up I carefully remove her to another place, but she keeps coming back and in the end she has to go back in the cage.  I miss our normal interaction, and I know she does too.  How long will this last, and is there anything I can do?

Can you help? We have a 23 year old Umbrella Cockatoo, Sammy. She has been with us for just over a year. Her previous owners, who had had her since a youngster, said that she had laid an egg once in her life. She has been very hormonal for about 2 weeks – we have resolutely ignored her behaviour. This morning she has laid an egg. What is the best thing to do? Previously when we have had Conures lay eggs we have simply left them in situ until the bird got bored, is this the right thing to do this time? Sammy is not in terribly good condition, she has a history of plucking (something I now suspect to be hormonal) and is under weight. Her diet, before she came to us, was very poor, and we haven’t made all that much progress in getting her to accept better nutrition.

Many thanks

Alison Ward


Hi Alison,

Thank you for the update. Your question is one of the early questions that were lost due to a glitch and we couldn’t access them until after the webinar. The good news is that due to the popularity of the topic and the fact that there is so much to cover, Dr. Lamb will be doing a continuation of the webinar this Friday, May 15.  I will post the registration link below.

I have submitted your original question with the followup, so Dr. Lamb will be addressing it. Meanwhile, as you discovered, her initial behavior was because she was getting nesty/broody, which resulted in the egg surprise she gave you! I always recommend leaving the egg with the hen, but do not provide a nest or anything she can perceive as a nest. Your response to the brooding behavior ahead of time was correct – ignoring the behavior or finding a distraction is ideal. But sometimes they are at the point that they are going to lay eggs. Hopefully this will satisfy her breeding urge and she will go back to normal after she gets tired of the egg or eggs as she might lay more. As discussed last week, remember to limit your contact with her to head scratches. It’s so easy to give in and really snuggle with a cockatoo, but that sends the wrong message to her and you have to think about the long term.

As to her condition. has she had a full exam with bloodwork by an Avian Vet? You might ask about avian bornavirus and the possible connection to feather plucking. When overall condition is poor, it can be an underlying cause such as a chronic disease.

Improving her diet can take time. Pellets are not very interesting, but she might accept our foraging diets. Our Nutri-Berries, Avi-Cakes and Pellet-Berries provide complete nutrition the same as a pellet, but they contain whole ingredients and provide natural foraging exercise. I know how frustrating it is to deal with a picky bird, but just be persistent and don’t give in.

Please join us again on Friday! Below are links to help you out.

Webinar: “Pet Birds & Hormonal Behavior: Part 2!”

Bird Food Guide

Thank you for asking Lafeber,


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