Cockatoo Bird Species

There are many different cockatoo bird species in Australia.

Although not quite as colourful as Australian parrots, Australian cockatoos are one of the cheekiest and smartest birds in Australia.

Here are some pictures of cockatoos, and some cockatoo facts such as what do cockatoos eat and should cockatoos be pets; and a few facts about Red Tailed Black Cockatoos, Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, and other species of cockatoos found in Australia.
Cockatoo on Hotel Room Balcony
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Types of Cockatoo Bird
Cockatoos are related to parrots. While parrots belong to the family Psittacidae and cockatoos belong the family Cacatuidae, both belong to the order Psittaciformes. Although Psittaciformes are found on all the tropical and subtropical continents in the world such as India, Africa, South-east Asia and southern regions in North America, by far the most of the world’s 350 species of Psittaciformes are found in Australia and South America. Because they are mainly found in Southern Hemisphere, it is thought that they evolved on Gondwana continent. Australian cockatoos are smaller and less colourful than South America’s Macaws and Amazons, but they are noisier and more active.

Sulphur-Crested Cockatoo, Cacatua Galerita, Displaying Wings and Crest
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Cockatoo Bird Noise and Social Nature
All cockatoos are very social birds and they live in life-long couple bonds. They are also excellent communicators – palm cockatoos for example gather in large groups every morning before taking off from roosting sites to feed, and greet each other raising their crests and streching their wings. The crests of cockatoos are also erected whenever the birds are excited or alarmed. Cockatoos are also known to have piercing calls, which are believed to give information about location and identity of the caller, and sometimes warn about the presence of a threat.

Major Mitchell Cockatoos (Cacatua Leadbeaters), Currawinya National Park, Queensland, Australia
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What Does a Cockatoo Bird Eat
In mornings and late afternoons cockatoos fly around in large noisy flocks, while in the midday heat they rest in trees, nibbling leaves and bark, and open large seeds with their powerful beaks. As opposed to many other birds that swallow the seeds whole, cockatoos are not seed dispersers, they eat the seeds and in many cases they are known to eat the fruit only to get to the seed. As in all birds, the bill shape of different types of cockatoos reflects the diet: Long-billed Corellas use their beak to dig up bulbs and the long bill of Palm Cockatoos is used to open palm seeds. In the process they litter the ground under the trees with broken seeds, leaves and blossom – it is a good sign that helps to find them because while feeding in trees they are quiet.

Leadbeaters or Major Mitchells or Pink Cockatoos
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Should Cockatoos Be Pets?
They have, along with parrots, the most evolved brains in all birds. They became easily tame if among people, and can imitate all sorts of noises, including peoples’ words. Palm cockatoo for example is known to make and use tools – the male drums on the bark with a grevillea nut, making a noise to defend its territory and possibly maintain the pair bond. Because of their sociable nature and intelligence, cockatoos have always been popular pets and just like parrots, their wild populations have been suffering from over-trading in many countries. Unless bred in captivity through many generations, the naturally sociable cockatoos that live in couples would not enjoy a life-long imprisonment in cage, particularly when alone - so think twice before you buy one. Australia banned the export of its native birds in 1960, and penalties for smuggling are heavy.

Little Corella (Cacatua Pastinator), Mootwingee National Park, New South Wales, Australia
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Breeding Seasons of Different Types of Cockatoo Bird
Different species breed at different times of the year, depending on in which climate in Australia they live. (There is more exact information about cockatoo breeding times in the links below). All cockatoos need tree hollows for nesting, and logging of old-growth forests which have tree hollows large enough for a bird of the size of cockatoos, may have a bad effect on many cockatoo populations.

A Row of Galah Cockatoos Perched on a Small Tree Branch
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Types of Cockatoo Bird in Australia
With 14 species, 11 of which are endemic, Australia is a country with many types of these birds. Australian cockatoos are mostly white or black with red or yellow patches, some are pink or bluish. All cockatoos are fairly large birds and fly relatively slow.

Leadbeaters or Major Mitchell's or Pink Cockatoo
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Red Tailed Black and Glossy Black Cockatoo
The largest group of Australian ones, the seven species of Black Cockatoos cover different parts of Australia: Long-billed Black Cockatoos (Calyptorhynchus baudinii) and Short-billed Black Cockatoos (Calyptorhynchus latirostris) live in open forests and woodlands in south-western Australia.

Palm Cockatoo (Probosciger Aterrimus)
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The bluish-black Gang-gang Cockatoos (Callocephalon fimbriatum) are found in the forests of the cold south-eastern Australia, Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos (Calyptorhynchus funereus) are found in Tasmania and the coast of Victoria and New South Wales. Glossy Black Cockatoo Bird (Calyptorhynchus lathami), the smallest black cockatoo lives in New South Wales and Queensland, and the largest, Palm Cockatoo (Probosciger aterrimus), in the Cape York in far north Queensland. The Red-tailed Black Cockatoos (Calyptorhynchus banksii), the most common of Australian black cockatoos, live in northern parts of Northern Territory, northern and western parts of Western Australia, and almost everywhere in Queensland.

White Cockatoo
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Sulphur-Crested Cockatoo Bird
The most common of white-coloured Australian cockatoos is the Sulphur-crested Cockatoo (Cacatua galerita), which is found in northern and eastern parts of Australia, including Tasmania. It is one of the noisiest Australian cockatoos. It is a relatively large bird with a white plumage and a fanlike, yellow crest. Its undertail and underwings are pail yellow, and beak and feet are dark. Sulphur-crested Cockatoo lives in rainforest, forest and woodland, but also parklands and gardens in urban areas. It lives in pairs and small groups but can also be seen flying in large flocks in the outback. It mobs predators like birds of prey, large lizards and snakes. Female lays 2-3 eggs in a large tree hollow which are incubated by both sexes during 30 days. It eats mainly seeds, but also fruit, flowers, roots and insect larvae. Good places to see Sulphur-crested Cockatoos are Royal National Park south of Sydney, Mutawintji National Park in New South Wales, and the Grampians in Victoria.

Group of Little Corella Cockatoos Standing in Tall Grasses
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Other common white Australian cockatoos are corellas. Little Corellas (Cacatua sanguinea) fly in huge noisy flocks in the outback where they live in semi-arid areas, monsoon woodlands and scrubland habitats, but also farms and urban areas. Long billed Corella (Cacatua tenuirostris) has a long upper bill as the name indicates,and its pinkish patches on face and neck are larger than in other corellas. It feeds in large flocks on the ground and lives on farmlands and in Red Gum woodlands. Western Corella (Cacatua pastinator) looks like a hybrid of the other two, having an intermediate-sized beak and red patches larger than those of Little Corella, but smaller than those of Long-billed Corella.

Galahs or Rose-Breasted Cockatoos
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Galah and Major Mitchell Cockatoo Bird
Pink Australian cockatoos include the small Major Mitchell Cockatoos (Cacatua leadbeateri) that are found in parts of inland in all states of Australia, and the noisy, cheeky Galah Cockatoos (Eolophus roseicapilla) that are very common in all states except the waterless plains in inland Australia, and south-western corner of Western Australia. Major Mitchell Cockatoos fly in small flocks and live in habitats with mallee, mulga, she-oak and Murray Pine. Galah Cockatoos live in woodland, grassland, parks and open scrubland, and are seen everywhere in the outback Australia.

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