Backyard Buddies
Sulphur-crested Cockatoo

Photo: FNPW Image Library

Sulphur-crested Cockatoo

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Sulphur-crested Cockatoos are large white parrots with a distinctive bright yellow crown of feathers on top of their heads. They grow up to 45 cm in length.

These birds love to feed on seeds, nuts, roots, berries, leaf buds, and some insects and their larvae.

The Cockatoo’s beak is strong enough to crack many seed and nut shells, and its tongue is flexible enough to sort the seed from the broken bits of shell and spit them out.

The Sulphur-crested Cockatoo has a loud, easily recognisable screeching call with a slight upward inflection at the end. If you hear it, look for cockies flying in the sky or coming in to roost amongst tree branches at dusk.

Sulphur-crested Cockatoos are fun-loving and intelligent birds that are a delight to watch as they play, feed and fly around.

Sulphur-crested Cockatoos can learn to drink from public drinking fountains. If you see a cocky perched at one or nearby looking at it, don’t be afraid to slowly approach and turn the water on gently. If you’re lucky, the cocky will jump up and take a drink from the cool, fresh water, and you’ll get to have a look at this magnificent bird up close.

You’ll also see Sulphur-crested Cockatoos feeding on the ground in pairs or groups. Some cockies stay in the trees above acting as lookouts, so if any dangers arise, the feeding flock is warned and flies into the air all at once.

Sulphur-crested Cockatoos nest in the hollow branches of dead or living gum trees, usually high up above watercourses. Nests have also been found in cliff holes.

You can make your neighbourhood friendlier for Sulphur-crested Cockatoos.

They eat various types of seeds, leaf buds, roots, nuts, fruit and some insects.

Sulphur-crested Cockatoos love Yellow Box (Eucalyptus melliodora) and Macadamia Nut trees (Macadamia tetraphylla), so if you can plant one or two, you will be providing a food source.

Our gardens and parks can be a safe place for Sulphur-crested Cockatoos and provide them with the food they need. Simple things that you do can make a huge difference to Australia’s animals. That’s why the Foundation for National Parks & Wildlife is running Backyard Buddies – to give you tips to help.

What is a backyard buddy?

Backyard buddies are the native animals that share our built-up areas, our beaches and waterways, our backyards and our parks. The Sulphur-crested Cockatoo is a backyard buddy.

Backyard buddies are also the local people who value the living things around them, like the Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, and are willing to protect and encourage them by doing a few simple things around their own homes.

So you can be a backyard buddy.

Be a backyard buddy

It’s easy. All you have to do is care... and take a few simple steps.

Step one is to find out what Sulphur-crested Cockatoos do and do not like.

Sulphur-crested Cockatoos love:

Native grasses and shrubs – they search the ground for fallen seeds to eat.

Native trees – from which they gather a variety of seeds and nuts.

Safe parks and gardens – where cats and dogs will not chase or attack them as they feed or play.

Tree hollows – which provide safe and secure nesting sites, beyond the reach of predators.

Wood – which they chew and strip to keep their beaks trim.

But they don’t like:

Cats and dogs – which can frighten or even attack them.

Garden pesticides – which poison the birds if they eat contaminated seeds.

Be a buddy to the Sulphur-crested Cockatoo

Try to:


Don’t be surprised if:

Find out more about your buddies

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