You’re invited to a backyard party with the social Sulphur-crested Cockatoo
The Sulphur-crested Cockatoo is Australia’s most famous cockatoo, making his mark with his signature yellow crest and wings. This is what gives this chirpy fellow his name, as sulphur is the same bright yellow colour as his crest.
Sulphur-crested Cockatoos are very adaptable and have become a common sight to people living in suburbs all over Australia. They don’t have any trouble finding their own food, and your backyard may just be a great source.
These snow-white cockatoos are very social, especially during autumn and winter when mating season has ended. They can even be seen in flocks of up to a hundred birds, and small clusters may feed in your backyard. Their day-long socialising, loud chatting and preening may make you think your backyard is the hottest party venue of the season!
You can help look after Sulphur-crested Cockatoos in your Backyard
Sulphur-crested Cockatoos spend their mid-mornings and afternoons feeding on a diverse menu of grass and plant seeds, leaf buds, berries, nuts, bulbous roots, grains and occasionally insect larvae.
They mostly feed on the ground, and retreat to the shade of tree branches during the hottest parts of the day.
Plant locally native grasses, bushes and shrubs in your backyard. Sulphur-crested Cockatoos will enjoy a nourishing meal, and will help prune these native plants for you.
Be a Backyard Buddy
The Sulphur-crested Cockatoo is just as caring about his mates as he is social. While a flock
is feeding, two cockatoos will keep a lookout for signs of danger from the post of a nearby tree.
If danger appears, these cockatoos will screech loudly as a warning. The word “cockatoo” has even become a colloquial term for someone who keeps guard.
One thing that the Sulphur-crested Cockatoo cannot warn their friends about however is eating poisoned seeds from garden pesticides. Try to avoid using any pesticides, and instead let other backyard buddies like the Willie Wagtail be your garden bug controllers.
Sulphur-crested Cockatoos love:
- Their flock. They are very social birds, and spend a large part of the day playing, feeding and preening each other.
- Crunching on tree bark, small branches and timber panelling to keep their powerful beaks sharp.
- Their roosting sites, which they return to at dusk after feeding, often flying long distances to get back home.
But they don't like:
- Running into cats while they are feeding on the ground.
- Common Myna birds, who can compete with them aggressively for nesting hollows.
- Garden pesticides, which are sprayed on seeds they eat and which can end up poisoning them.
Be a Buddy to Sulphur-Crested Cockatoos
- Keep your cat indoors as much as possible, particularly during feeding times, which are mid-morning and early afternoon. Or consider installing a cat run so your cat can go outside without hurting any backyard buddies.
- Place some clean, fresh water in your garden in a bird bath or shallow dish for the Sulphur-crested Cockatoo to sip on and splash around in.
- Remove any seed bearing weed species in your garden. After eating these, Sulphur-crested Cockatoos can spread invasive weeds into national parks and also onto farms, harming crops and annoying farmers, who may then attempt to deter or control of these birds.
- Feeding Sulphur-crested Cockatoos. They do a great job finding food themselves. Also, they can return frequently and chew up any timber paneling you have on your roof, balcony or window sills. This is often quite expensive to repair.
- Touching Sulphur-crested Cockatoos. When alarmed, they can bite quite hard.
- Cutting down mature trees, as these provide hollows for Sulphur-crested Cockatoos to nest in.
Don't be surprised if Sulphur Crested Cockatoos:
- Sometimes sound like a symphony of loud, broken car alarms. Their call is very distinctive, and is a long, drawn out screech ‘airrrik’.
- Are actually known as a type of parrot- it’s true! They are one of the larger species of parrots and are set apart by their crests and large bills.
- Seem to be making you lifelong visits. They can live upwards of 60 years and will return to the same roosting ground year after year.
A few more Sulphur-crested Cockatoo facts
Sulphur-crested Cockatoo profile:
- Sulphur-crested Cockatoos are usually around 46-50 cm long. As well as their yellow crests, they also have splashes of yellow under their wings, which can be seen when they fly. Although both males and females look very similar, they can be told apart by their eyes. The males have dark brown eyes, whereas the females have red-brown eyes.
- These cockatoos are extremely adaptable and can live just about anywhere, including in cities, towns, suburbs, villages and farms. They originally lived in woodlands such as timbered habitats as well as forests with heavy rainfall. Sulphur-crested Cockatoos also like living near water courses, especially when surrounded by Red River Gums.
- Sulphur-crested Cockatoos are found mostly in northern and eastern Australia, as well as Tasmania. A smaller number also live in Perth and Western Australia. It is thought that these smaller flocks formed after some cockatoos escaped from captivity. Sulphur-crested Cockatoos can also be found internationally in New Zealand, Indonesia, New Guinea and the Aru Islands.