Unhappy Cockatoo

The best way to make an Umbrella Cockatoo unhappy is to keep it in isolation. The Umbrella desires nothing more than to cuddle with the object of its desire, and can become overly attached to other birds or objects in the pet shop, leading to serious disappointment when these birds or objects are sold – these birds are extremely sentimental! In the wild, the Umbrella is never without a companion, and the captive Umbrella has the same instinctual patterning to bond to a mate, or at least to have a special friend.

The Umbrella Cockatoo is native to the islands of Indonesia, where it lives in tropical rainforest. They can live up to 70 years in captivity with proper care and attention!

This Cockatoo was an honor to Taxidermy. I asked who I got the bird from how old it was when it died, but they said it’d be hard to say. I was hoping more for a reply of “70 years!”. A challenge I faced was it not having many abdominal feathers left when it passed away. These birds need stimulation and if stressed will resort to plucking out its own feathers. I assume this is what happened to this Cockatoo. When visiting the pet store I saw other Cockatoos with the same exact issue (see below in the pics). To work around the issue of bare abdominal skin on this Cockatoo I cut away some of the skin without feathers. Also, it might have been freezer burned but the skin without feathers had fused to the breast bone almost in a mummified way. This made for unsavable bits of stomach skin. I guess I gave this Cockatoo a tummy tuck?

This was the biggest bird I’ve worked on to date. I love the silly crest cockatoos have on their head so I decided to position its crest in a playful manner and slightly tilt its head. I used 10mm sized glass eyes for it. When the skin around the eye orbits dries it turns a pale yellow color so I used diluted white acrylic paint to go over the eye area. This was the first time I’d painted on a bird, I think it turned out pretty well and the paint adhered with no problem to the skin.

Parrot feet are very prone to shrinkage in Taxidermy so I also bought some bird feet injection fluid and syringes. I carefully injected the yellow sticky liquid at several points around its feet. You could watch the feet expand as the liquid did its job. Over a course of a week I would continue to inject the feet as needed. The injection fluid is a mess! Because you have made injection holes at several locations in the birds feet, sometimes the holes would spring a leak and start dripping out the very fluid you just injected inside them. I’m sure with practice, I’ll get the hang of it.

I went searching for something I could mount this beauty on at a local thrift store. To my pleasant surprise I found a poorly crafted pedestal that was put together crooked. I took it home to disassemble and sand it. I used some epoxy and screws to put it back together. I sanded again after the epoxy set for 24 hours and painted it white. I wanted to originally paint it black but the husband said it would look nicer white. So I took his advice. (Yes, I do that sometimes, ha!)