This image of a Tanimbar Corella (Cacatua goffini) eating the fruit of the golden shower or Indian laburnum (Cassia fistula) by Howard Banwell, is, as far as is known, a new food record.
According to Rowley (1997), “…apart from the maize crop that species is notorious for plundering, little is known about its diet.”
Golden shower or Indian laburnum is widely grown as a wayside tree in Singapore. The large bunches of yellow flowers hanging from the branches make a pretty sight, thus the popularity of the tree in urban areas. The trees usually burst into flowers after a prolonged period of drought. Then comes the long cylindrical fruits, green turning black with maturity. Pods do not split and the seeds that are found between the many partitions inside are embedded in a stickly sweet pulp. This pulp finds its way into traditional medicines as a laxative, sometimes mixed with tobacco and smoked.
Obviously the cockatoo has found its food niche, eating the green pods of its pulp and seeds that no other birds seem to go for. Its other food, the starfruit and pong pong are also not eaten by other birds.
1. Rowley, I., 1997. Family Cacatuidae (cockatoos). In: del Hoyo, J., A. Elliott & J. Sargatal (eds.), Handbook of the birds of the world. Vol. 4. Sandgrouse to Cuckoos. Lynx Editions, Barcelona. Pp.246-279.
2. Wee, Y. C. (2003). Tropical trees and shrubs – A selection for urban plantings. Sun Tree Pub., Singapore. 392pp.