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12

Sulphur-crested Cockatoo

(Cacatua galerita)
Alternate name(s): "White Cockatoo"
Aboriginal name(s): "kaneky", "mooyi", "kogga-longo", "arunta", "korina", "kudrungoo", "moorai", "nannawarra", "tingari"

Size: 45-50 cm
Weight: 835 g (average)

Similar species

Description     Classification     Distribution     Sightings     Photos     Breeding     Nest     Eggs     Behaviour     Food     Call/s

Physical description

Click here for a physical description

Taxonomy, classification

See Sulphur-crested Cockatoo at Wikipedia .

Range, habitat, finding this species

Click here for information on habitat and range

Sightings

Click here for sighting information

Photos

Race "galerita"

Not the photos you want? Or are you after even better quality? Have a look here .

ADULT

Near-frontal view of a Sulphur-crested Cockatoo
[Eulah Creek, NSW, August 2012]

Close-up lateral portrait of a Sulphur-crested Cockatoo
[Pilliga, NSW, December 2013]

Lateral view of a Sulphur-crested Cockatoo
[Eulah Creek, NSW, July 2010]

Dorsal view of a Sulphur-crested Cockatoo
[Eulah Creek, NSW, July 2011]

Sulphur-crested Cockatoo displaying its crest
[Eulah Creek, NSW, July 2010]

Sulphur-yellow feather from the crest of a Sulphur-crested Cockatoo
[Eulah Creek, NSW, April 2016]

Sulphur-yellow feather from the crest of a Sulphur-crested Cockatoo
[Eulah Creek, NSW, April 2016]

Sulphur-crested Cockatoo in flight, just after takeoff from a treetop
[20 km South of Narrabri, NSW, September 2006]

This Sulphur-crested Cockatoo is doing its usual thing, screaming its head off; in this photo one can clearly see the sulphur-yellow underwings
[Eulah Creek, NSW, August 2010]

Full flaps, landing gear out - Sulphur-crested Cockatoo ready for landing (photo courtesy of R. Druce)

And here a Sulphur-crested Cockatoo coming straight at you...
[Eulah Creek, NSW, April 2011]

PBFD - psittacine beak and feather disease

A significant number of Sulphur-crested Cockatoos have a disease that leads to two observable effects - loss of feathers and beak deformations. Below a few examples observed by us in the wild.

Dorsal view of "Baldy", not a Sulphur-crested, but a Bald-headed Cockatoo
[Eulah Creek, NSW, October 2008]

And the winner in the "Dirtiest Cocky of all times" competition is...
[Eulah Creek, NSW, July 2011]

... but there is strong competition
[Eulah Creek, NSW, October 2011]

This Sulphur-crested Cockatoo is similarly dirty compared to the others shown above, but note also the deformity of its bill, where part of the upper mandible is missing, while the lower mandible is much longer than normal
[Eulah Creek, NSW, August 2011]

Frontal view of a Sulphur-crested Cockatoo in what looks like an advanced stage of PBFD
[Eulah Creek, NSW, July 2012]

Lateral view of a Sulphur-crested Cockatoo in what looks like an advanced stage of PBFD
[Eulah Creek, NSW, July 2012]

The same Sulphur-crested Cockatoo as shown above, in an attempt to raise its crest
[Eulah Creek, NSW, July 2012]

Race "fitzroyi"

ADULT

Lateral view of a Sulphur-crested Cockatoo
[Casuarina Coastal Reserve, Darwin, NT, August 2014]

Breeding information

Breeding season: Jun - Dec Eggs: 2 Incubation period: 28 - 30 days Fledging age: 56 days

The breeding season depends significantly on geographical latitude. Cockatoos are sociable creatures which often nest in loose colonies, also in conjunction with other species.

Nest

"bungobittah", "malunna" = nest [Aboriginal]

Type: Tree hollow Material: Woodchips Height above ground: 5 - 30 m

Sulphur-crested Cockatoo climbing out of its nesting hollow
[Yarrie Lake, near Wee Waa, NSW, October 2011]

Sulphur-crested Cockatoo sitting in the opening of its nesting hollow in a River Red Gum
[Eulah Creek, NSW, August 2015]

Eggs

"boyanga", "booyanga", "derinya", "dirandil", "koomura", "ngampu", "nooluk", "pateena" = Egg; "dirundirri" = eggs [Aboriginal]; "gawu" = eggs [gamilaraay]

Size: 48 x 34 mm Colour: White Shape: Tapered oval

Behaviour

Social behaviour: Communal Mobility: Dispersive/sedentary Elementary unit: Flock

In (semi-)arid environments such as inland NSW, Sulphur-crested Cockatoos stay close to waterways, even if they have dried up. When flying across arid land, it is normally on their way from one waterway to the next, where food is more abundant.

Often seen by us together with Little Corellas and/or Galahs in flocks of up to hundreds, especially where there is plenty of food (e.g. near olive groves or grain storage facilities).

They are quite destructive, often nibbling on or chopping off the young shoots of trees just for fun. They are also playful, often performing acrobatics.

What can I destroy now? Maybe this 18-mm high-flow hose?
[Eulah Creek, NSW, August 2011]

Nope, this is not an albino fruit bat... note how the strength of just one toe is sufficient to hold the Sulphur-crested Cockatoo's weight
[Eulah Creek, NSW, August 2011]

... and here is another Sulphur-crested Cockatoo playing silly buggers
[Eulah Creek, NSW, June 2011]

Some TLC the Sulphur-crested Cockatoo way...
[Eulah Creek, NSW, July 2010]

Standoff at the bird feeder: Sulphur-crested Cockatoo vs. Rainbow Lorikeet (photo courtesy of A. Ross-Taylor)
[Highland Park, Gold Coast, QLD, June 2013]

Another standoff between Sulphur-crested Cockatoos (photo courtesy of A. Ross-Taylor)
[Highland Park, Gold Coast, QLD, May 2014]

Sulphur-crested Cockatoos are a noisy lot to start with, but occasionally the volume they produce can increase a notch or two yet. When they are at their noisiest best, there is usually a good reason. In the case shown below, the racket was about a Lace Monitor.

Sulphur-crested Cockatoo warning everybody of the presence of a goanna
[Eulah Creek, NSW, November 2014]

Food, Diet

Adults: Seeds Dependents: Regurgitated seeds Water intake: Daily

Like basically all cockatoos, Sulphur-crested Cockatoos are seed-eaters, where seeds include those in cones and nut-like fruit, for example those of Acacia salicina and White Cedar trees. They also take grass seeds, seeds from introduced trees and shrubs (and commercial crops).

Additional information

There is a separate page about a Sulphur-crested Cockatoo feeding on Acacia salicina seeds.

Sulphur-crested Cockatoos often feed in large numbers, regularly also together with other species, such as e.g. Little Corellas; they feed on our grassland only in wintertime, always about an hour before sunset, when starting their way out of a neighbouring olive grove back to their roosts
[Eulah Creek, NSW, July 2011]

Here a closer look at Sulphur-crested Cockatoos feeding on another day
[Eulah Creek, NSW, July 2011]

Sulphur-crested Cockatoos feasting on fruit (photo courtesy of M. Windeyer)
[Gilgandra, NSW, March 2013]

Sulphur-crested Cockatoo cracking a jacaranda seed pod

This Sulphur-crested Cockatoo is chewing on an oleander seed pod; since nobody has keeled over yet in our garden, it appears that Sulphur-crested Cockatoos are not affected by the toxins
[Eulah Creek, NSW, June 2011]

Here a Sulphur-crested Cockatoo on our lawn in wintertime; for once it is not causing any damage, but in fact doing us a favour by feeding on clover
[Eulah Creek, NSW, August 2011]

Sulphur-crested Cockatoo on more stringy plant material (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Anstead Reserve, Anstead, QLD, March 2017]

Sulphur-crested Cockatoo picking up food from a lawn
[20 km South of Narrabri, NSW, October 2006]

Sulphur-crested Cockatoo feeding on seeds of an introduced tree species in an urban garden
[Eulah Creek, NSW, August 2011]

Sulphur-crested Cockatoo checking out the local waterhole, a mini-pond in our garden
[Eulah Creek, NSW, June 2011]

Sulphur-crested Cockatoo drinking from our little garden pond
[Eulah Creek, NSW, June 2011]

Sulphur-crested Cockatoo taking a good mouthful
[Eulah Creek, NSW, July 2011]

Call(s)/Song

For this species we have recorded the following call(s)/song. The interpretation of their meaning is our own; comments and suggestions for improvement are welcome.

scrcock_art_20131109.mp3 galerita
(SE QLD)
Contact calls © ART
scrcock_20140128.mp3 galerita
(NW NSW)
Contact call (in-flight) © MD
scrcock_art_20131109_2.mp3 galerita
(SE QLD)
Alarm call © ART
scrcock_20140127.mp3 galerita
(NW NSW)
Alarm call (Brown Goshawk) © MD
scrcock_art_20131212_3.mp3 galerita
(SE QLD)
Unsettled © ART
scrcock_20140115.mp3 galerita
(NW NSW)
Curious/ suspicious © MD
scrcock_20140311_2.mp3 galerita
(NW NSW)
Arrival © MD
scrcock_20140509.mp3 galerita
(NW NSW)
Departure © MD
scrcock_20140528.mp3 galerita
(NW NSW)
Begging call (juvenile) © MD
 
scrcock_20140816_2.mp3 fitzroyi
(Darwin, NT)
Departure © MD
scrcock_20140816.mp3 fitzroyi
(Darwin, NT)
? © MD
Click here for more recordings

We have also recorded a Sulphur-crested Cockatoo's wing beat.

scrcock_20140506.mp3 galerita
(NW NSW)
Arrival © MD

These pages are largely based on our own observations and those of our contributors. The structure of these bird pages is explained HERE. For more salient facts on any bird species please refer to a field guide.

Would you like to contribute photos or sound recordings to this site?
If interested, please CLICK HERE. Credits to contributors are given HERE.