One of Australia's most popular and iconic birds, the Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, has been known to live up to eighty years of age in captivity.
The Sulphur-crested Cockatoo is a large white parrot. It has a dark grey-black bill, a distinctive sulphur-yellow crest and a yellow wash on the underside of the wings. Sexes are similar, although the female can be separated at close range by its red-brown eye (darker brown in the male). This is a noisy and conspicuous cockatoo, both at rest and in flight. Young Sulphur-crested Cockatoos resemble the adults.
Sulphur-crested Cockatoos are found in a variety of timbered habitats and are common around human settlements. The birds stay in the same area all year round.
The Sulphur-crested Cockatoo's range extends throughout the northern and eastern mainland, and Tasmania. A small population has become established around Perth, Western Australia. The species also occurs in New Guinea and the Aru Islands, and has been introduced into New Zealand and Indonesia.
Feeding and diet
The Sulphur-crested Cockatoo's normal diet consists of berries, seeds, nuts and roots. It also takes handouts from humans. Feeding normally takes place in small to large groups, with one or more members of the group watching for danger from a nearby perch. When not feeding, birds will bite off smaller branches and leaves from trees. These items are not eaten, however. The activity may help to keep the bill trimmed and from growing too large.
The most common call is a distinctive loud screech, ending with a slight upward inflection.
The eggs are laid in a suitable tree hollow, which is prepared by both sexes. Both birds also incubate and care for the chicks. The chicks remain with the parents all year round and family groups will stay together indefinitely.
- Breeding Season: August to January in the south; May to September in the north
- Clutch size: 1 to 3
- Incubation: 30 days
- Time in nest: 65 days
The popularity of the Sulphur-crested Cockatoo as a cage bird has increased its range, as these birds either escape or are released deliberately in areas where they do not already occur. The species has become a pest around urban areas, where it uses its powerful bill to destroy timber decking and panelling on houses.
- Crome, F. and Shields, J. 1992. Parrots and Pigeons of Australia. Angus and Robertson/National Photographic Index of Australian Wildlife, Sydney.
- Pizzey, G. and Knight, F. 1997. Field Guide to the Birds of Australia. Angus and Robertson, Sydney.
- Schodde, R. and Tideman, S.C. (eds) 1990. Reader's Digest Complete Book of Australian Birds (2nd Edition). Reader's Digest (Australia) Pty Ltd, Sydney.