Sulphur-crested cockatoo with crest closed ©Getty Images

Sulphur-crested cockatoo with crest closed ©Getty Images

The sulphur-crested cockatoo is one of the best known of all Australian birds. It is a type of parrot.  It is a popular pet in Australia and in other places in the world.

A flock of wild sulphur-crested cockatoos. ©Getty

A flock of wild sulphur-crested cockatoos. ©Getty

Habitat and Distribution (where they are found in the wild)

The sulphur-crested cockatoo is found all through the eastern states of Australia, and along the northern coast, Tasmania and parts of South Australia and Western Australia.

 

Appearance and Behaviours

A cockatoo with crest opened. ©Getty Images

A cockatoo with crest opened. ©Getty Images

The bird is a large, white parrot with a bright yellow crest that curves forward when it is opened. When closed, it forms a yellow plume at the back of the bird's head. 

The underside of the wings and tail are pale yellow.  The strong curved beak is dark grey.  

The sulphur-crested cockatoo is large, about 49 cm long, including tail.  Males and females look alike. They are noisy birds, communicating with each other in a distinctive screech.

When feeding, they gather in groups, sometimes quite large, so that some can keep watch and warn of danger.

They can be a pest in areas where people live, destroying timber panelling and stripping coating off electrical wiring. The continual chewing is thought to be a way of keeping their beaks sharp.

Diet

Wild cockatoo feeding in a tree. Getty Images

Wild cockatoo feeding in a tree. Getty Images

Sulphur-crested cockatoos eat the seeds of grasses and plants, grains, roots, berries, buds.  They eat crops such as oats and maize, but also eat the insects and grubs on the crops, and weeds.

 They feed in the morning and evening, and spend the hottest part of the day in trees stripping off leaves and bark. The flock will stay in the same feeding area until they have exhausted it before moving on.

In the north, the cockatoos live in pairs or small groups. In the south, the birds live in large flocks. Some of the flock stays in the trees as lookouts while the flock feeds on the ground. They warn of intruders, and the whole flock takes off together. The sulphur-crested cockatoo has an extremely loud raucous screech.

When the sulphur-crested cockatoo flies, the yellow feathers under the wings and tail can be seen.  ©Getty

When the sulphur-crested cockatoo flies, the yellow feathers under the wings and tail can be seen.  ©Getty

Life Cycle

Sulphur-crested cockatoos breed between August-January in the south, and May- September in the north. They nest in a hollow high up in a tree near water. The female lays two, occasionally three, eggs. Both parents share the incubation for the 30 days it takes to hatch the eggs. The chicks stay in the nest for about 6 weeks. Family groups stay together for varying periods of time.

They have been known to live for up to eighty years in captivity.

Read more about the sulphur-crested cockatoo:

http://australianmuseum.net.au/Sulphur-crested-Cockatoo

Read the kidcyber page:

  birds.