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Sulphur Crested Cockatoos

Home > Melbourne > Free | Outdoor | Animals and Wildlife
by Neil Follett (subscribe)
I'm a retired photographer living in Lilydale mainly researching and writing on Australian aviation history. Now writing more on general subjects.
Published September 28th 2022
Pure Avian Delight
The sulphur-crested cockatoo is native to eastern Australia from Cape York to Tasmania.

flying cockatoo,
A magnificent sight.

Sulphur-crested cockatoos' distinctive raucous calls can be very loud. They are naturally curious, as well as very intelligent. They have adapted very well to European settlement in Australia and live in many urban areas.

Sulphur crested cockatoo in trees
Sulphur Crested Cockatoo.

Their raucous calls are always a reason to peer skywards where you are often greeted by a flock of them.

Cockatoo flock.
Often seen in flocks.

There is always a few stragglers which allow for individual photos of them.

sulphur crested cockatoos.
Three stragglers.

sulphur crested cockatoos.
More stragglers.

On my many street walks in suburbia and on the fringe of suburbia, I have come across many cockatoos. Some are ground feeding while others are feeding safely on tree branches.

sulphur crested cockatoo.
Ground feeding.

sulphur crested cockatoo.
Feeding in tree.

sulphur crested cockatoo.
Also feeding in tree.

Often you will come across a lone cockatoo just sitting in a tree. You can easily miss them if you are not occasionally looking up.

sulphur crested cockatoo.
Just watching.

sulphur crested cockatoos.
Four more in trees.

Species that feed on the ground are very vulnerable to predator attacks. The cockatoo has evolved a behavioural adaptation to protect against this: whenever there is a flock on the ground, there is at least one high up in a tree (usually a dead tree), keeping guard. This is so well-known that it has even entered Australian slang: a person keeping guard for sudden police raids on illegal gambling gatherings is referred to as a cockatoo or cocky for short.

sulphur crested cockatoo portrait.
Keeping watch.

One very pleasant cockatoo surprise was on a park walk after heavy rain seeing several having a drink in a pool of water. Their reflections in the water were a photographer's delight.

sulphur crested cockatoo.
Looking for a drink.

sulphur crested cockatoos.
This will do.

sulphur crested cockatoos.
Down the hatch.

When you come across a cocky sitting alone on an overhead wire or branch, it pays to watch them as they may suddenly decamp, giving some action photos.

Diving cockatoos.
Abandoning its perch.

More cocky action can be seen when they alight on wires, showing off their magnificent wings, often with a wingspan of just over one metre.

sulphur crested cockatoo.

sulphur crested cockatoo.
Huge wings.

Despite their size, it amazes me the number of times I have seen cockatoos harassed by noisy miners, only a fraction of their size.

Cockatoo being harassed.
Almost a David and Goliath scenario.

On one walk, I was surprised by black shapes moving within the green leaves of a front garden tree. The moving shapes were three yellow-tailed cockatoos, doing what yellow-tailed cockatoo do pulling bark of tree limbs, looking for wood borers and tree grubs. It was delightful to watch them. Not sulphur crested, but cousins.

Yellow tailed cockatoo
Yellow tailed cockatoo.

Sulphur crested cockatoos can live up to 70 years in captivity but only 20-40 years in the wild. If I were a cockatoo, I think I would prefer twenty years of freedom than seventy in a cage.

Cocky in cage.

Advertisements for sulphur crested cockatoos on Gumtree range up to $800. For that price, you could buy many real gum trees and hope some cockatoos will visit.
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Why? For your own enjoyment.
When: While you are walking.
Where: Almost anywhere.
Cost: Free
Your Comment
Cockatoos become bored and unwell in cages. Let them have freedom..
Do not encourage them to stay near houses . Do not feed them.
by junea (score: 2|195) 56 days ago
Will Rio your garden, window frames.veranda posts decking,, solar lights to shreds with their 50+mates, Judt for fun. , Be warned, Dont feed them .
by ifaye (score: 2|126) 58 days ago
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