The Sulphur Crested Cockatoo (Cacatua galerita) is probably Australia’s best known parrot. This loud, mischievous bird is a hard one to ignore when it flies over you, so it boisterously takes the spot for our #3 Bird Photography Challenge.
What does it look like?
The Sulphur Crested Cockatoo is a large parrot which varies in size from 44 to 55cms. Its plumage is white overall, but the underwing and tail are tinged in a pale yellow. Its distinctive crest is sulphur yellow, hence its name, and is often raised in alarm. It has a curved black bill, the eyes are black or dark brown with a white eye-ring. The legs are charcoal.
How does it behave?
A flock of cockatoos sharing a tree with a cormorant
The sulphur crested cockatoo roosts in trees. Its nest is a bed of wood chips in a hollow limb high up in eucalyptus trees near water. Eggs are laid in the tree hollow. Both male and female incubate the eggs and care for the chicks. Cockatoos feed in small to large groups, their diet consisting of berries, seeds, leaf buds, nuts and roots. They can be very destructive in urban areas where they sometimes cause damage to crops, seedlings and soft timber on houses. Consequently, although they are a protected species, they can a bit of a pest.
Sulphur crested cockatoos are fun to watch when engaged in a courtship display: crest erect, tail feathers spread wide, nodding and bobbing their head whilst emitting a low chuckling call.
This is an extremely intelligent bird, and very good at learning to talk, so it is often kept as a pet. It is also a long-lived bird (40 to 70 years).
Did you know?
Whenever a flock is feeding, there is at least one cockatoo perched high in a tree, keeping guard. This is so well known that it has even entered the Australian slang: a lookout posted by criminals or operators of illegal gambling games is called a cockatoo, or cocky for short!
Where is it found?
The Sulphur Crested Cockatoo is found in forests and woodlands, as well as in urban areas, in Eastern and Northern Australia. It avoids treeless arid regions.
These cockatoos were photographed perched on a dead tree on the water’s edge in the Gippsland Lakes. Their raucous calls could be heard for miles as they flew in! The images were taken with a Canon 60D camera and EF100-400 lens, zoomed in at 400, whilst we were on board our catamaran – an additional challenge to lens stability.
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