What do Sulphur-crested Cockatoos look like?
Sulphur-crested Cockatoos (Cacatua galerita) is one of Australia’s largest parrots. They are large white parrots with a distinctive bright yellow crown of feathers on top of their heads. They grow up to 45 cm in length. Females and males look very similar, but can be distinguished from the males by their reddish-brown eye (males have a brown eye).
Where are Sulphur-crested Cockatoos found?
Sulphur-crested Cockatoos are found across the mainland of Australia and Tasmania. They nest in the hollow branches of dead or living gum trees, usually high up above watercourses. Nests have also been found in cliff holes.
- The Cockatoo’s beak is strong enough to crack many seed and nut shells, and its tongue is flexible enough to sort the seed from the broken bits of shell and spit them out.
- Sulphur-crested Cockatoos are intelligent and adaptable. They have been known to learn to drink from public drinking fountains and in Sydney some have even worked out how to open wheelie bins to get at food scraps and garbage waste!
Sulphur-crested Cockatoo – the full story
Sulphur-crested Cockatoos are large white parrots with a distinctive bright yellow crown of feathers on top of their heads. They grow up to 45 cm in length.
These birds love to feed on seeds, nuts, roots, berries, leaf buds, and some insects and their larvae. The Cockatoo’s beak is strong enough to crack many seed and nut shells, and its tongue is flexible enough to sort the seed from the broken bits of shell and spit them out.
The Sulphur-crested Cockatoo has a loud, easily recognisable screeching call with a slight upward inflection at the end. If you hear it, look for cockies flying in the sky or coming in to roost amongst tree branches at dusk.
Sulphur-crested Cockatoos are fun-loving and intelligent birds that are a delight to watch as they play, feed and fly around.
Sulphur-crested Cockatoos can learn to drink from public drinking fountains. If you see a cocky perched at one or nearby looking at it, don’t be afraid to slowly approach and turn the water on gently. If you’re lucky, the cocky will jump up and take a drink from the cool, fresh water, and you’ll get to have a look at this magnificent bird up close. In Sydney some cockatoos have even worked out how to open wheelie bins to get at food scraps and garbage waste!
You’ll also see Sulphur-crested Cockatoos feeding on the ground in pairs or groups. Some cockies stay in the trees above acting as lookouts, so if any dangers arise, the feeding flock is warned and flies into the air all at once.
Sulphur-crested Cockatoos nest in the hollow branches of dead or living gum trees, usually high up above watercourses. Nests have also been found in cliff holes.
Sulphur-crested Cockatoos love:
- Native grasses and shrubs – they search the ground for fallen seeds to eat.
- Native trees – especially the nuts and seeds from Yellow Box (Eucalyptus melliodora) or Macadamia Nut trees (Macadamia tetraphylla)
- Safe parks and gardens – where cats and dogs will not chase or attack them as they feed or play.
- Tree hollows – which provide safe and secure nesting sites, beyond the reach of predators.
- Wood – which they chew and strip to keep their beaks trim.
But they don’t like:
- Cats and dogs – which can frighten or even attack them.
- Garden pesticides – which poison the birds if they eat contaminated seeds.
Be a buddy to the Sulphur-crested Cockatoo
- watch for Sulphur-crested Cockatoos in flight or feeding on the ground.
- keep cats and dogs away from areas in your backyard and in parks where cockatoos feed during the day.
- organise your garden so that there is a variety of native grasses, bushes and shrubs with seeds for birds like Sulphur-crested Cockatoos to feed on.
- leave mature trees in the area with hollows for the birds to use for nesting.
- put a bird bath in your yard to give Sulphur-crested Cockatoos a drink and somewhere to splash around and clean their feathers.
- removing seed heads, especially from native grasses if Cockatoos are feeding in the area.
- removing dead branches from trees if there is no safety issue.
- feeding cockatoos as they can find their own food easily.
Don’t be surprised if:
- you see cockies playing games or mimicking dogs, tools or human voices.