Sulphur-crested cockatoos dwell in a variety of timbered habitats such as tropical and subtropical rainforests. They are also found in the vast savannas of northern Australia. Sulphur-crested cockatoos also occur in suburban and urban areas, especially in parks and gardens. (Cody, 1993; Sibley and Monroe, 1990)
Sulphur-crested cockatoos are large birds, measuring 45 to 50 centimeters in length. Their average weight is 800 grams. Sulphur-crested cockatoos are white with a distinctive sulphur-yellow crest which can be erected or held folded down on top of head. The underside of their wings and tail is pale yellow. Females and males are similar in appearance (monomorphic); however, females can be identified at close range by their red tinted brown eyes, whereas males have darker brown eyes. There are four subspecies of sulphur-crested cockatoos. Cacatua galerita fitzroyi differs from C. g. galerita in having a pale blue eye ring instead of white, the yellow feathers are slightly darker, and the crest feathers are longer. Cacatua galerita eleonora and C. g. triton both average smaller in overall size than C. g. galerita. ("Australian Museum", 2003; Bell, 1969; Dobbs and Highfill, 2003)
Sulphur-crested cockatoos are monogamous birds. Signs of courtship include raising of the crest, bobbing of the head, and moving the head from side to side in a figure-of-eight pattern while uttering soft chattering notes. Before mating, the birds usually preen each other's plumage. (Forshaw, 2002)
In the northern parts of their range, sulphur-crested cockatoos breed from May to September, whereas birds in the southern parts of their range breed from August to January. They generally nest in a high tree hollow, usually near water. They breed once yearly, producing a clutch containing 2 to 3 white oval eggs. Eggs hatch after an incubation period of 27 to 30 days. Fledging generally occurs at approximately 70 days. Offspring will leave the nest after this 70 day period but will remain with the parents year round. Family units will remain together indefinitely. Both male and female ("", 1991; "", 1985; Forshaw, 2002)reach reproductive maturity around the age of 3 to 4 years.
Sulphur-crested cockatoos can live for decades in the wild. Average lifespan is about 40 years, but they can live up to 100 years. In captivity, sulphur-crested cockatoos that are well-cared for can live for 65 years on average and up to 120 years. (Bell, 1969; "", 1991)
Sulphur-crested cockatoos are noisy birds. Their primary method of communication is their screeching voices. They also use their crest to communicate emotion. They will raise and spread their magnificent crests when excited, such as when danger is detected or during mating. (Forshaw, 2002; Perrins, 1990)
Sulphur-crested cockatoos are primarily granivores in the wild, feeding both on the ground and in trees. They feed mainly on seeds, nuts, fruits, blossoms, insects and insect larvae. They will also attack newly planted and ripening grain crops. (Berra, 1998; Dobbs and Highfill, 2003; Perrins, 1990)
Sulphur-crested cockatoos have one primary method of detecting and avoiding predators. When feeding, a few 'sentinel' birds will perch in a tree looking out for predators. They unleash their deafening warning call when a potential predator is sighted. Their large size also protects them from predation by all but the largest birds of prey. (Bell, 1969; Forshaw, 2002; Perrins, 1990)
During the incubation period and 6 to 10 weeks thereafter, both parent birds are intentionally very quiet in order not to attract predators to their nest. ("Australian Museum", 2003)
Sulphur-crested cockatoos are known to be preyed on by powerful owls (Ninox strenua). Goannas (Varanus) are also potential predators of birds on the ground, fledglings, and nestlings. Other potential predators include common avian nest predators such as pied currawongs (Strepera graculina), butcherbirds (Cracticus), and ravens. (Forshaw, 2002)
The role of sulphur-crested cockatoos in the ecosystems they inhabit is not well documented. They feed on seeds and nuts and may play a role in seed dispersal. (Berra, 1998; Dobbs and Highfill, 2003; Perrins, 1990)
Sulphur-crested cockatoos are popular pets and companion birds. Their yellow feathers have been used in ceremonial headdresses. (Forshaw, 2002)
Sulphur-crested cockatoos can be so numerous in crop growing areas that they are often shot or poisoned as pests. Government permit is required, though, as they are a protected species under the Australian Commonwealth Law. Aside from crops, they can also be harmful to wooden structures and ornamental trees as they chew and rip at timber on houses and tree limbs. (Bell, 1969; "", 1991)
Sulphur-crested cockatoos are generally common and abundant. Their population is approximated at more than 500,000 individuals. It is no longer legal to import these birds to the United States as a result of the Wild Bird Conservation Act. (Berra, 1998; Forshaw, 2002; Perrins, 1990)
Tanya Dewey (editor), Animal Diversity Web.
Kyle Thomas (author), Kalamazoo College, Ann Fraser (editor, instructor), Kalamazoo College.
Living in Australia, New Zealand, Tasmania, New Guinea and associated islands.
uses sound to communicate
young are born in a relatively underdeveloped state; they are unable to feed or care for themselves or locomote independently for a period of time after birth/hatching. In birds, naked and helpless after hatching.
Referring to an animal that lives in trees; tree-climbing.
having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.
uses smells or other chemicals to communicate
humans benefit economically by promoting tourism that focuses on the appreciation of natural areas or animals. Ecotourism implies that there are existing programs that profit from the appreciation of natural areas or animals.
animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.
forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.
an animal that mainly eats fruit
an animal that mainly eats seeds
An animal that eats mainly plants or parts of plants.
referring to animal species that have been transported to and established populations in regions outside of their natural range, usually through human action.
offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).
imitates a communication signal or appearance of another kind of organism
Having one mate at a time.
having the capacity to move from one place to another.
the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.
islands that are not part of continental shelf areas, they are not, and have never been, connected to a continental land mass, most typically these are volcanic islands.
reproduction in which eggs are released by the female; development of offspring occurs outside the mother's body.
the business of buying and selling animals for people to keep in their homes as pets.
breeding is confined to a particular season
remains in the same area
reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female
associates with others of its species; forms social groups.
living in residential areas on the outskirts of large cities or towns.
uses touch to communicate
Living on the ground.
the region of the earth that surrounds the equator, from 23.5 degrees north to 23.5 degrees south.
A terrestrial biome. Savannas are grasslands with scattered individual trees that do not form a closed canopy. Extensive savannas are found in parts of subtropical and tropical Africa and South America, and in Australia.
A grassland with scattered trees or scattered clumps of trees, a type of community intermediate between grassland and forest. See also Tropical savanna and grassland biome.
A terrestrial biome found in temperate latitudes (>23.5° N or S latitude). Vegetation is made up mostly of grasses, the height and species diversity of which depend largely on the amount of moisture available. Fire and grazing are important in the long-term maintenance of grasslands.
living in cities and large towns, landscapes dominated by human structures and activity.
uses sight to communicate
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Berra, T. 1998. A Natural History of Australia. San Diego, CA: Academic Press.
Cody, M. 1993. Bird diversity components within and between habitats in Australia. Pp. 147-158 in R Ricklefs, D Schluter, eds. Species Diversity in Ecological Communities: Historical and Geographical Perspectives. Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press.
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Forshaw, J. 2002. Parrots. Pp. 275-298 in J Jackson, W Bock, D Olendorf, M Hutchins, eds. Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia, Vol. Volume 9, Second Edition. Detroit: Gale.
Perrins, D. 1990. The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Birds. New York: Prentice Hall Press.
Sibley, C., B. Monroe. 1990. Distribution and Taxonomy of Birds of the World. New Haven: Yale University Press.