White Cockatoo (Cacatua alba)

White Cockatoo


The white cockatoo (Cacatua alba), also known as the umbrella cockatoo, is a medium-sized all-white cockatoo endemic to tropical rainforest on islands of Indonesia. When surprised, it extends a large and striking head crest, which has a semicircular shape (similar to an umbrella, hence the alternative name). The wings and tail have a pale yellow or lemon color which is exposed when they fly. It is similar to other species of white cockatoo such as yellow-crested cockatoo, sulphur-crested cockatoo, and salmon-crested cockatoo, all of which have yellow, orange or pink crest feathers instead of white. The white cockatoo is around 46 cm (18 in) long, and weighs about 400 g (14 oz) for small females and up to 800 g (28 oz) for big males. The male white cockatoo usually has a broader head and a bigger beak than the female. They have brown or black eyes and a dark grey beak. When mature some female white cockatoos can have reddish/brown irises, while the irises of the adult male are dark brown or black.

Distribution And Habitat

The White Cockatoo is endemic to several Indonesia islands (Juniper and Parr 1998). It is also a common species in captivity (Juniper and Parr 1998) and has been introduced to Puerto Rico where it has a stable population trend, although with low numbers, around the municipalities of Bayamón and Guaynabo in the metropolitan area (Falcón and Tremblay 2018). In its native habitat, it can usually be found in lowland and hill forests, as well as in second- growth forests around clearings, rivers, forests edges, and agricultural lands (Juniper and Parr 1998). The atlas fieldwork yielded a total of five records within two hexagons or 0.4 percent of the 479 total hexagons (see map). Of the two hexagons where this species was found, breeding met the atlas definition of confirmed in 50 percent (one) of the hexagons and probable in 50 percent (one) as well (see map). White Cockatoo distribution. The map shows the highest breeding code by hexagon and overlaying the ecological life zones in Puerto Rico. Note: percentages may not total 100 due to rounding.

White Cockatoo Distribution

Breeding Habits

Previously published reports indicate that, in its native habitat, the White Cockatoo is suspected to nest in April, and the nesting usually occurs in tree cavities (Juniper and Parr 1998). Atlas results show that this species 185White Cockatoo/Cacatúa Blancabreeds during February, April, and December (see chart). The breeding activity peaks in April and takes place within the subtropical moist forest life zone (see chart). Results show that this species breeds in the subtropical moist forest life zone (100 percent of the hexagons) (see table and map).


The current population trend of the White Cockatoo in Indonesia is suspected to be rapidly declining with ongoing habitat destruction, deforestation, and the international cage-bird trade (BirdLife International 2018). This species is currently listed as Endangered by the IUCN (BirdLife International 2018). Locally, this species is not listed in any of the threatened categories of PRDNER and USFWS. In Puerto Rico, the White Cockatoo has a protected habitat of 5 percent or 2 km2 of the total area covered by the hexagons where this species is known to breed (48 km2).