Sulphur crested cockatoo
PO  Box 126 Mitcham Vic 3132 ( Victoria, Australia )

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. sulphur crested cockatoo
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    Sulphur crested cockatoo Sulphur crested cockatoo
  • An Australian Parrot                                          (Click on photo/s to enlarge)
  • Scientific Name:  Cacatua galerita
  • Sub Species in country / area of origin: 3
  • Origin / Distribution:  Across the top of Western Australia, Northern Territory and Queensland.  Down the east coast from Australia from Queensland to Victoria and across to South Australia.  Also occurs in Tasmania, plus New Guinea and surrounding islands.
  • Habitat In Wild:  Occupies a wide diversity of habitat and has benefited from farmland and cultivated areas, especially in south east Australia.  Generally found in open woodlands.
  • Status In Wild:  Common.  Often treated as a pest species in some farm areas.
  • Status In (Australian) Captivity:  Not often bred, but secure due to the legal harvesting of young birds from the wild.  Mainly kept as a pet.  Can be a difficult bird to breed in an aviary.
  • Age To Sexual Maturity:  ?
  • Lifespan (estimate):  Long lived, approx 25 or more years. May be up to 50 years can be achieved.
  • Sexing:  Monomorphic / Dimorphic  Surgical or DNA sexing is required.
  • Colour mutations:  None
  • Availability:  Bird dealers and specialist breeders.
  • Temperament:  Often kept as a pet in a cage.  They can be good talkers but can be very noisy.  Early morning screeching can be very annoying to neighbours.  One pair per large aviary.  The Sulphur crested cockatoo is a social bird usually seen in a flock and as a pet bird they require a lot of attention and interaction.
    The temperament of a pet Sulphur crested cockatoo may change as they grow up.  Hormonal changes can significantly change the bird's temperament when puberty starts or becomes a "teenager".  Some can become very territorial and show aggression if you enter their space.
  • Cost (Victoria) Per Pair: - Normal colour  (Approx.) $200 - pet birds may be more expensive.
  • Description Of Adults:
  1. Length: Approx. 500 mm (or approx. 20 inches)
  2. Colour ( "normal" colour ): Refer photos above (Click on photo/s to enlarge).
  3. Weight: Approx. 700 - 900 gms (or approx  25 - 31 ozs)
Aviary Notes:

Level Of Knowledge Required:   Beginner / Intermediate / Advanced / Specialist Breeders Only.

Government Regulations & By-Laws:  Refer to " Government Laws " web page.

Housing Requirements:  Refer to " Housing Birds " web page for general details on the housing of Cockatoos or read on for specific details for this parrot.

An aviary of 4 to 5 metres long will allow these birds to be able to get adequate exercise.  The aviary should be about 1.2 to 1.5 metres wide and about 2.1 metres high.  Heavy gauge wire is necessary, preferably galvanized weldmesh.
An aviary of up to 7 metres (22 feet) long will allow these large birds to get adequate exercise and maintain good health.

Suitable non-toxic leafy branches can be placed in the aviary for the birds to chew up. This will entertain the birds, help minimize boredom and give the birds some beak exercise. Natural branches can be used for perches. These natural perches will be chewed by the birds and may need to be replaced regularly.
To help relieve boredom and as a way of providing exercise, suitable bird toys can be placed in the aviary.  Most bird toys are designed to be chewed up and will require replacing after the birds have reduced them to splinters.  Aviary breeding birds will enjoy playing with and destroying bird toys just as much as pet birds.

Diet / Feeding:  Refer to " Feeding Birds " web page for general details on the feeding of Cockatoos or read on for specific details for this parrot.

Native foods include seeds of the Acacia, Eucalypt and the introduced Pine species along with the seeds of grasses and other plants.  They will rip open branches to get to the grubs which they eat along with other insects.  Branches, seeds and cones of these trees and other suitable native plants should be offered to the birds along with branches and fruiting bodies of the cotoneaster and hawthorn bushes.  This will provide them with hours of physical activity and mental stimulation as well as a varied diet.

Aviary diet should restrict the amount of Sunflower and safflower seed.  Other seeds include canary, corn, hulled oats, millet, milo, and wheat.

Other foods can include apple, almonds, peanuts, grapes, vegetables such as broccoli, corn, peas and silverbeet.  Leafy green vegetables are essential to a balanced diet.  Small amounts of Plain Madeira cake can be added to a balanced diet.  Seeding grasses are eagerly consumed.  Many will eat insects such as grubs and mealworm larvae pupa and beetles.  Dry dog food can be offered.

Nesting:  A basic overview only.  Dimensions are typical / average and can vary widely, influenced by the owner's preferences and the birds preferences.  Parent bird's preferences can also be influenced by the size and type of nest-box / log in which the bird was hatched and reared.  If space allows, offering a choice of sizes and types of logs or nest-boxes, and placed in various locations within the aviary, can allow the parent birds to make their own choice.  Once a pair has chosen a specific nest-box/log and been successful in it, offer that one to them each breeding season.  Try and keep that one for their exclusive use.  Once a pair has chosen its log or nest-box, the other ones can generally be removed.  If the "spare" boxes are to be removed and moved to another flight, ensure the log / nest-box is cleaned to ensure the receptacle has the minimal contamination of mites, parasites and pathogens.

A solid log is the preferred nest for large cockatoos.

  • Nesting months:  August to January in the southern Australian States.  They usually breed earlier in the warmer northern States.
  • Log / Nest-box:
    • Length / depth 1000 mm (or approx. 40 inches)
    • Log internal diameter approx. 300 - 350mm. (or approx. 12 - 14 inches)
    • Nest-box internal dimensions approx. 300 - 350 mm square (or approx. 12 - 14 inches square)
    • Diameter of entrance hole approx. ? mm (or approx. ? inches)
    • Inspection hole (square or round) 100 - 150mm (or approx 4 - 6 inches)
    • A removable top / lid can be a useful access point for inspections and for cleaning.
    • Location and height of log / nest-box = high in the covered part of the aviary but not too close to the roof to be affected by heat from the roof in the summer months.
    • Angle of log or nest box = Log or nest box can be vertical or on an angle of up to 45 degrees.
  • Nesting log / nest-box material: Decomposed non-toxic saw dust, wood shavings or other suitable material/s.
  • Who incubates the egg/s: Hen / cock / both share.

Timber nest-boxes generally require a climbing structure attached inside the box below the entrance hole. Both logs and nests need an entrance hole/opening about 100mm (about 4 inches) from the top. Many species of parrots like the entrance hole to be just big enough to squeeze through.

More details on parrot nestboxes/logs and a selection of parrot nestbox/log photos can be found on the "nests", "parrot nests" and "parrot nestbox photos" web pages.  Click on "Up" then "Nests" then "parrot nests" and "parrot nestbox photos" in the navigation bars.

Breeding:  Egg Colour White.  Clutch/s per year 1.  Eggs per nest  2 - 3.  Incubation approx. 28 - 30 days.  Fledge approx.  8 - 12 weeks.  Independent approx. another 3 or more months.

Not bred very often in aviaries.  Many young are legally harvested from the wild.  Most young birds are sold into the pet or companion bird market.

It is essential to obtain a compatible pair if you expect to produce young.  If the birds are not compatible, the birds are more likely to be aggressive towards each other and fight.  A compatible pair is usually a good breeder and good parents.

Artificial incubation and hand rearing or fostering will not be covered on this web site.  It is too complex and diverse in nature to be attempted here.

Health Issues:  Refer to "Avian Health Issues" web page for information and references.

  • Worming and parasite control and Quarantine requirements of new bird/s or sick bird/s are considered to require veterinary advice and therefore not covered on this web site.  Refer "Avian Health Issues" web page option.
  • Avian medicine is advancing at a rapid pace.  Keep updating your knowledge and skills.

General References:  Refer to references listed on "Book References" web page.

Specific References:

  • Australian Aviculture
  • A/A Vol 58 No. 3 Mar 2004 Page 58-60 (Inc photo).

  • Australian Birdkeeper
  • ABK Vol 18 Issue 11. Oct-Nov 2005 Page 669-673 (Corellas & Cockatoos of  inland Australia)
  • ABK Vol 15 Issue 2. Apr-May 2002 Page 97-100.
  • ABK Vol 12 Issue 11. Oct-Nov 1999 Page 538-540
  • ABK Vol  8 Issue 10. Aug-Sept 1995 Page 482-484

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