Sulphur-Crested Cockatoo

Cockatoos -  large, colourful and often raucous birds, are found in their various guises across Australia. 

The beautiful Galah, the smallest of our Cockatoos, is found across the land.  It is such a common sight that its beauty is often taken for granted.  There is something quintessentially Australian about watching a flock of Galahs waddle around the grasslands searching for seed.   They provide quite a spectacle when they take to the wing, the sun lighting up the rich pink of their under-feathers.

The Major Mitchell’s, or Pink, Cockatoo is one of our most beautiful birds; a mixture of subtle pinks and whites, topped with a red and yellow crest.  They tend to live in pairs or very small flocks, and once were widespread across Australia’s inland.  Unlike other Cockatoos, they are not faring well, and we have been saddened only to see them twice during our travels  – the first time in Mungo National Park in south western NSW, then at Mutawintji National Park north of Broken Hill.  Whereas most other Cockatoos feed on grassland seeds, and have thus benefitted from the widespread clearing of the land since White settlement, the Major Mitchell’s Cockatoo requires extensive woodlands in which to feed ad breed, and its numbers have therefore declined.

Little Corellas are one of the most widespread of our Cockatoos.  Mostly white, with yellow feathers under their wings, they are often seen in enormous flocks, travelling up and down inland river courses over the day.  Each time a couple of ’scouts’ head out, calling all the while to the flock.  At some point the mass of birds sets off in pursuit, almst as if they have reached a consensus that they should move.  The flock creates quite a sight as it passes, the massed calls impossible to ignore.  We first saw the Little Corella at Windjana Gorge in the Kimberley years ago, and the memory of their calls echoing along the steep gorge has stayed with us ever since.  This species is widespread, and moved into the Canberra region  in search of food during recent droughts.  

The Sulphur Creasted Cockatoo has a loud and raucous screech, but is a beautiful bird to look upon, with its snow-white feathers and brilliant yellow crest.  They are widespread in the eastern states, but not seen in the west until you reach the top end.

The various Black Cockatoos are beautiful, almost other worldy-birds as they fly past, wings beating slowly.  The Red-Tailed species is most widespread, the Short and Long-billed White Tailed species only seen in the southwest of WA, while the Yellow Tailed form is restricted to the south-eastern regions of Australia.  We are yet to see the Palm Cockatoo, which is found only on Cape York in the far north of Queensland.   Our most exciting encounter with Black Cockatoos was at Four Mile Camp, on the Barwon River near Brewarrina in outback NSW.  Each morning hundreds of Red Tailed Black Cockatoos would fly across the river to roost in the trees on the opposite banks, then return to feed in the trees and on the fields on our side of the river.  They spent much of each day flying to and fro, to our great amusement.  From my swag one morning, I counted over 300 in the fly-past, but I swear many had already flown by before the tally commenced.

Click on the link below to see our footage over several Red-Tailed Black Cockatoos in flight:


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