Sulphur Crested Cockatoo

The Sulphur Crested Cockatoo is a large white cockatoo bird found in various parts of Australia as well as in New Guinea. They are quite popular as pets and make delightful companions.

Sulphur Crested Cockatoo Scientific Name

The scientific name for these species of cockatoo is “Cacatua galerita”.

Sulphur Crested Cockatoo Description

Length: Sulphur Crested Cockatoos have a length of around 45 to 55 centimeters. The birds of Australian mainland are larger in size than the ones found in New Guinea or other nearby islands.

Weight: Their weight ranges between 350 to 500 grams.

Eyes: The eyes are enclosed within a white eye ring. The eye color is different for both sexes; black for the male birds and reddish-brown or burgundy red in case of the females.

Color: These birds have an overall white plumage with yellow crest, underwing and tail.

Bill: The bill is sharply curved and black in color.

Legs: The legs have four digits and are grayish in color.

Sulphur Crested Cockatoo Distribution

Sulphur Crested Cockatoos are found in many locations throughout Australia, including Tasmania, Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne and Sydney. They also occur in Papua New Guinea, New Britain, Milne Bay, Cenderawasih Bay and New Guinea as well as on Indonesian islands like Aru, Misool and Waigeo.

Sulphur Crested Cockatoo Habitat

These birds like to hang around in the open countryside as well as on woodlands, farmlands and lowland forests.

Sulphur Crested Cockatoo Migration

Sulphur Crested Cockatoos do not migrate. However, some seasonal movements within specific locations have been reported. They might move from one place to another in search of food.

Sulphur Crested Cockatoo Picture

Picture 1 – Sulphur Crested Cockatoo

Sulphur Crested Cockatoo Behavior

Here are some common behavioral traits of these birds.

  • These birds are quite loud and noisy.
  • They normally hang out in pairs, small groups or large flocks.
  • They have a very warm, friendly and affectionate nature and love to be the center of attention.
  • Sulphur Crested Cockatoos have high intelligence and can mimic human speech.
  • They are very social by nature and like to spend their time playing, calling in high pitched voice and making enthusiastic gestures.
  • They are very loyal to humans or other birds once they develop a close bond.
  • These cockatoos are highly vocal during dawn and dusk.
  • Although these birds are not aggressive by nature, they can show signs of aggressiveness during puberty or when they fight for attention in captive conditions.
  • Flocks of cockatoos commonly love to roost along watercourses during nighttime.

Sulphur Crested Cockatoo Sound

These birds frequently make high-pitched screeching noises that are meant to traverse long distances through tropical and subtropical forest environments. They make loud and incessant grating calls during evening when they return home to their nests. They are also capable to imitate various sounds such as human speech, other animal noises as well as mechanical sounds.

Sulphur Crested Cockatoo Flight

These birds have an uneven wing beat action while flying. They can fly at a speed of around 70 kilometers in an hour.

Sulphur Crested Cockatoo Diet

Sulphur-crested Cockatoos mainly feed on seeds of grasses, grains, herbs, wild melons, fruits and vegetables. Other plant food materials include flowers, nectar, nuts, cereals, oilseed crops, grapes, berries, orchards, leaf buds, rhizomes, bulbous roots. They also prefer to eat certain insects like skinks and crickets as well as small larvae.

Sulphur Crested Cockatoo Predators

Large kites and snakes are the major predators of Sulphur Crested Cockatoos.

Sulphur Crested Cockatoo Adaptations

These birds have developed certain adaptations to protect themselves from predators as well as consume their food in a more efficient way.

  • A sentinel of birds keeps watch from the top of high trees for any potential danger when some of them feed on the ground. On noticing any predatory species, these birds will make a harsh noise to alert the cockatoos on ground. This system helps them to evade predation fairly easily.
  • Their beak and tongue are especially adapted to help them in their seedy diet. The flexible tongue allows them to store seeds inside their beak while they selectively open and eat each individual seed.

Sulphur Crested Cockatoo Breeding Season

The breeding season for these birds last from August to January in south-eastern Australia and from the months of May to September up in the northern areas.

Photos of Sulphur Crested Cockatoo

Picture 2 – Sulphur Crested Cockatoo Photo

Sulphur Crested Cockatoo Breeding

The males fight among each other for the attention of the females. During courtship, the male will approach a female with extended wings, widely spread tail feathers and an erect crest. He will also nod his head up and down and swing side to side while producing a low chuckling sound.

Once the two birds have formed a connection, they will preen and scratch each other’s bodies as a means to strengthen their bond. During the mating act, the male bird will mount his female partner. The actual mating takes place by joining of the male and female cloacae. After the birds have developed a close bond, they will leave the group and search for a suitable tree to build their nest.

These birds like to nest in hollow spaces of eucalyptus trees close to a water body. They may also build their nests in tall cliffs and haystacks. The nests are built at a height of 5 to 30 meters above ground.

The female lays a clutch of two to three oval white-colored eggs which are incubated by both the parents for about a month.

Sulphur Crested Cockatoo Life Cycle

The babies are born hairless with their eyes closed. The parents feed regurgitated food to the young ones. The chicks are weaned by both their parents for about 3 months after which they fledge. It takes one more month for them to become fully independent. The young birds stay with their parents for several months after fledging. The young birds reach sexual maturity when they are about 5 to 7 years old.

Sulphur Crested Cockatoos are monogamous and develop a close bond with their partner that lasts for a lifetime. Separation from their partner might cause them depression.

Sulphur Crested Cockatoo Diseases

Sulphur Crested Cockatoos are prone to suffer from a viral disease called Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease. This causes the birds to develop misshapen beaks and lose their feathers. They have also been known to be affected by the protozoon Haemoproteus and the malaria parasite Plasmodium.

Sulphur Crested Cockatoo Life Span

Sulphur Crested Cockatoo can live for nearly 20 to 40 years in the wild. In captivity, they are known to live for about 70 to 100 years.

Sulphur Crested Cockatoo Sub-species

There are four known subspecies of Sulphur Crested Cockatoo.

  • Greater Sulphur Crested Cockatoo (Cacatua galerita galerita)
  • Triton Cockatoo (Cacatua galerita triton)
  • Eleonora Cockatoo (Cacatua galerita eleonora)
  • Fitzroy Greater Sulphur Crested Cockatoo (Cacatua galerita fitzroyi)

Sulphur Crested Cockatoo as Pets

If you want to pet a Sulfur Crested Cockatoo, make sure that you can spend enough time with them as these birds are very social and love to interact with other birds and humans. They enjoy sharing care and affection, without which they would not thrive.

Housing: The cage where you keep your pets cockatoos should have enough room as these birds are physically very active and love to flap their wings and stretch themselves. The minimum dimension of the cage should be 2 feet x 2 feet x 3 feet for a single bird. For more than one bird, a larger cage is required. Place the cage in a sunny area. You can also provide them with a perch to sit on along with requisite food and water.

Feeding: Provide your pet with a healthy diet of seeds, fruits, vegetables and occasional crickets. You can also prepare a tasty and nutritious dish for them combining oats, water and honey. The drinking water should be changed every day.

Caring: Bathe your cockatoo once a week with lukewarm water. Don’t rush while trying to bond with your pet. Take time to get to know your bird and allow it time to get to know you as well. Regularly preen the feathers to avoid growth of itchy spots. Trim your bird’s nails to avoid overgrowth of nails. Your cockatoo will try to chew anything it can grasp with its beak. So avoid keeping any plastic materials or sharp objects nearby.

Sulphur Crested Cockatoo Conservation Status

Sulphur Crested Cockatoo is listed in the category of “Least Concern” by the IUCN.

Sulphur Crested Cockatoo Interesting Facts

Here are some interesting facts about these cockatoos.

  • Cocky Bennett was a well known Sulphur Crested Cockatoo living in Sydney. He was alive for more than 100 years. His body was preserved after death.
  • An Eleonora Cockatoo by the name of Snowball is capable of dancing in accordance to musical beats and rhythms.
  • These birds are often referred simply by the name of Cocky.
  • The four subspecies are slightly different in their appearance.
  • The Greater Sulphur Crested Cockatoo has a habit of throwing sticks at their predators to scare them off.

Sulphur Crested Cockatoo Pictures

Here are some images of these playful cockatoos.

Images of Sulphur Crested Cockatoo

Picture 3 – Sulphur Crested Cockatoo Image

Pictures of Sulphur Crested Cockatoo

Picture 4 – Sulphur Crested Cockatoo Picture

References:

http://birds.about.com/od/largebirds/p/sulphurtoo.htm

http://www.parrotlink.com/cms//index.php?page=greater-sulphur-crested

http://animal-world.com/encyclo/birds/cockatoos/greatersulphur.php

http://www.j-web.com.au/jpage/nature/sulphur-crested-cockatoo.aspx

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