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Sulphur-crested Cockatoo - BirdForum Opus

Nominate subspecies
Photo © by Eric
Newport, New South Wales, Australia, 21 May 2003
Cacatua galerita


45–55 cm (17¾-21½ in)
A large white cockatoo. It has a distinctive long yellow crest, and a yellow wash over the ears and under the wings and tail.
Sexes are similar, however they can be distinguished on eye colour. Males have dark brown eyes while females have a more reddish-brown eye. Juveniles resemble adults.


Photo © by Russell Jenkins
Pittsworth, Queensland, Australia, 6 January 2009

Widespread and common in eastern and northern Australia from Adelaide in the west and Tasmania in the south to Cape York and across to the Kimberly in the north. There is a feral population established in Perth, Western Australia. The Sulphur-crested Cockatoo also occurs in Papua New Guinea and the Aru Islands, and there are feral populations in Indonesia and New Zealand.


The Sulphur-crested Cockatoo is placed with the family Cacatuidae within the order Psittaciformes. Other members of the Cacatua genus include the Major Mitchell's Cockatoo in Australia, the Yellow-crested Cockatoo, Moluccan Cockatoo and Umbrella Cockatoo in Indonesia and the Blue-eyed Cockatoo in Papua New Guinea.


There are 4 subspecies[1]:

  • C. g. triton:
  • C. g. eleonora:
  • Aru Islands
  • C. g. fitzroyi:
  • Northern Australia (Fitzroy River to Gulf of Carpenteria)
  • C. g. galerita:


Open woodland, agricultural districts and around human settlement


Birds spend much of their time in play, characteristically and famously breaking and dropping branches, chewing house decking and panelling and removing rubber sealing on street lights.


Birds breed in monogamous pairs, using tree hollows for nesting.


Outside of the breeding season Sulphur-crested Cockatoos congregate in large flocks, feeding on berries, seeds, nuts, roots, grubs and grain either on the ground or in trees. Typically feeding groups post one or more lookouts in nearby vantage points to watch for danger.

The species is considered a pest in agricultural areas, where it eats grain and orchard fruit.


Call: An extremely loud raucous screech, ending with an upwards inflection. Commonly uttered during flight.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, S. M. Billerman, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2019. The eBird/Clements Checklist of Birds of the World: v2019. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. BirdForum member observations
  3. Higgins, P.J. (ed.) 1999. Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic birds. Vol. 4, parrots to dollarbirds. Oxford University Press, Melbourne.
  4. Rowley, I., Kirwan, G.M. & Boesman, P. (2019). Sulphur-crested Cockatoo (Cacatua galerita). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from https://www.hbw.com/node/54423 on 25 December 2019).
  5. Styche, A. 2013. Sulphur-crested cockatoo. In Miskelly, C.M. (ed.) New Zealand Birds Online. www.nzbirdsonline.org.nz
  6. Thomas, K. 2007. "Cacatua galerita" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed December 25, 2019 at https://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Cacatua_galerita/

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