Yellow-crested or Sulphur-crested Cockatoo?

posted in: Parrots | 8


Choo Teik Ju sent in the following account on 30th October 2008:

“I was on my regular birding around my house at Clementi Avenue 4. When I walked on the old railway track along Pandan River jogging path behind Faber Crest Condominium, I saw these parrots on the ground in group. There were about eight of them but I can only capture five birds in this picture. This is the first time I saw parrots gathering on the ground and I guess you might be interested to know too.”

These can be the Yellow-crested Cockatoo (Cacatua sulphurea), an escapee in Singapore seen as far back as the early 1900s. By 1970 a resident population has established, breeding in the Central Catchment forest. Now, noisy flocks can be seen at various locations. This white parrot is easily recognized from its prominent up-curved yellow crest. The bird feeds mainly in trees but do go to the ground to feed when necessary.

On the other hand they look suspiciously like the Sulphur-crested Cockatoo (Cacatua galerita). This is an uncommon escapee.

Can someone confirm?

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8 Responses

  1. Yellow cheek patches are usually diagnostic of the Yellow-crested, but the photo is of inadequate resolution to tell. Size is also – the yellow is about 35cm, the sulphur much bigger, 45 to 50cm.

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  2. Thanks Scot. Yes, the image is the limiting factor.

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  3. Agree with Scott about limiting factor of images and unknown size factor. What is interesting though, is the fact that there have been many reports of a small colony of Yellow-crested Cockatoos from the NUS campus in recent years and that is not too far away from where these birds were seen.

    Choo Teik Ju’s comment about noisy flocks in various parts of the island is somewhat misleading though as this species is a relatively rare feral resident in Singapore, with a colony scattered between NUS and the Botanical Gardens and tiny colonies at Sentosa (7 birds) and Loyang (3 birds).

    The large nosiy flocks in various parts of Singapore are mostly Tanimbar Cockatoos (Cacatua goffini).

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  4. I suspect these are Medium Sulphur Crested Cockatoos (Cacatua galerita eleonora). A commonly imported species for many years now. I use to see small parties of 3-4 birds along Pasir Panjang Rd, Telok Blangah Rd and even Alexandra Rd some 17 yrs ago. At least one bird had a chain around its foot.Those were probably from Sentosa and Kent Ridge areas.Given their longevity and adaptability, these could be similar birds or their progenies or even additional escapees that have integrated into the existing flocks. I have recently seen a pair playing with each other on the lamp posts and wayside trees along AYE just outside of NUH/NUS during the evening rush hours.

    In the 70’s and 80’s they were one of the fancied “white” cockatoos bred and kept as pets in S’pore. Today many have been given up or released due to their loud, harsh voices.They make excellent companion pets when tamed properly from young.

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  5. Haniman’s comment is useful as I have been trying to decide on the identity of a white cockatoo with a forward curving yellow crest, white eye-ring, but no obvious yellow on ear coverts or anywhere on face, seen close-up at Sembawang Park last Saturday. It was obviously somewhat larger than the 32cm Goffins/Tanimbar cockatoos that it was with, but certainly not the 50 cm size of Sulphur-crested. Medium Sulphur Crested (Cacatua galerita eleonora) is a real possibility, especially since I had noted it having a dark grey bill, which Forshaw includes in the description of Sulphur-crested. I had been reading through the list of races of Yellow-crested, and wondering about the abbotti race which has paler yellow ear coverts but is markedly larger than all the other races of Yellow-crested. But now that I look at the races of Sulphur-crested, C.g. eleonora seems more likely. This bird, like many other cockatoos in Singapore, still has a broken chain on its leg.

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  6. They are still around NUH/NUS, Haniman, sometimes in spectacular flocks, really. Only sometimes. Other times they are dispersed all over the Ridge.

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  7. Yeah I’ve been seeing them between NUS Engineering and the School of Design and Environment. Recently they have been appearing consistently at about 6 to 7 pm and I’ve seen them sleeping on the trees at night as well.

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  8. […] Burnie, David. 1992. Birds: How to watch and understand the fascinating world of birds. 2. BESG: Yellow-crested or Sulphur-crested Cockatoo 3. Quattrocchi, Umberto. 1999. CRC World Dictionary of Plant Names: Common Names, Scientific Names, […]

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