An encounter with a pair of Sulphur-Crested Cockatoo

posted in: Feathers-maintenance, Parrots | 3

“I was birding around my estate this morning when I was graced by the presence of one, and then two, Sulphur-Crested Cockatoos (Cacatua galerita).

“Sulphur-Crested Cockatoos have lived in my estate for quite a long time, we have been hearing them since my family moved in four years ago. I have seen three individuals flying around the estate more recently, but I only managed to photograph a pair today.

“From time to time, they venture out to sit on lamp posts along the roads or fly around the Bishan area, having fun and calling loudly as parrots do

“The first bird I saw was thoroughly unconcerned by my presence and indulged in comfort behaviour: stretching wings and straightening out feathers (above left). Much to my delight, it was joined by another bird, presumably its mate. They began to preen each other and as they did this, one of them opened up its crest (above right), perhaps to allow its mate to preen its crest feathers or to express enjoyment of their mutual affection! When they had tidied themselves up they took off in opposite directions, one disappearing into a cavity in a dead tree branch (below right). It peered out curiously (at me?) from time to time. I wonder if they would have tolerated my presence if there were nestlings.

“On a side note – one of the cockatoos is an escapee. In the photo (above left), I have circled the chain in red. Perhaps the bird bit off the chain and escaped from a previous owner. I only noticed that detail while looking through my photos. I’m not sure if the other bird is an escapee as well, I didn’t manage to see any similar chain.”

Ruici Ong
16th January 2011

3 Responses

  1. Lee Chiu San

    Glad to see this post. Most of the cockatoos in Singapore are from the New Guinean or Indonesian races, which are smaller and more stocky than the bigger Australian races. From the photos I cannot determine the size of the birds, but would hazard a guess, if they are noticeably larger than a domestic pigeon, than they are from the subspecies Cacatua galerita elenora. However, if they are noticeably smaller than a domestic pigeon, then they are Lesser Sulphur Crested Cockatoos, Cacatua sulphurea, a different species. Once common, the Lesser Sulphur Crest is now much rarer than its larger cousin, and could be at risk. If they are breeding here, that is good news.

  2. Ruici

    Hey Chi San,

    From what I recall, they were large birds and definitely bigger than pigeons.
    Unfortunately for the Lesser Sulphur Crested Cockatoos, these are most probably their larger cousins.


  3. Lee Chiu San

    Dear Ruici,

    From what you say, the birds were probably Cacatua galerita eleonora. These used to be common in the pet trade, and being native to Indonesia, were more frequently exported.

    The Australian Cacatua galerita galerita is a much larger but more slender bird, with noticeably longer crest feathers.

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