Reviewing Australian Cockatoos

Australia is home to 14 of the 21 species of cockatoos around the world. They are quite easily recognisable by their crest and curved billed. Of those cockatoos native to Australia most are relatively common and easy to come across. Cockatoos are long-lived, living up to 100 years in captivity. Most cockatoos are actully left-footed.

Here is a review of these beautiful birds.

White Cockatoos

The sulphur-crested cockatoo is the only species of cockatoos in Australia to be considered white. They are common in most of eastern Australia. Like most of you I have come across these guys many times. They are pretty cool to photograph too as they are quite tame, specially when feeding! It's great to get a shot when they land or when they get angry and that crest opens up. Beautiful birds!

Black Cockatoos

Credit © Jan Lile, Craig Morley and David Irving

The majority of cockatoos in Australia would fall in this category. The first one in the list and also the number one on my bucket list is the Palm Cockatoo. He's the largest cockatoo in Australia and is easily recognised by his large bill. They use their large bill to eat tough nuts but also to break off thick sticks to use in a drumming display. Only the Hyacinth Macaw has a larger bill than this guy. They are found in New Guinea and on the Cape York Peninsula. Amazing birds!

Gang-gang cockatoos are found in southeastern Victoria. They love to feed on Hawthorn berries which they crack open to eat the seed only. Finding hawthorn trees is usually to spot these guys. When they are around feeding, you can hear the clicking from the berries being cracked open.

The Glossy black cockatoo is a smaller brownish cockatoo. The female has yellow patches on face and neck, the male is fairly plain. They are found in southeastern Australia. They feed on black sheoak trees which they are entirely dependent on.

The yellow-tailed black cockatoo and red-tailed black cockatoos are similar species.

The yellow-tailed can be found from eastern to southeastern Australia. Both sexes look quite similar although the female has a more clearly defined yellow ear patch.

The red-tailed can be found across most of northern Australia. The female will have yellow spots on most of the head, neck and wings. The male is mostly black with a bright red tail. There are five subspecies of red-tailed black cockatoos, they differ mainly in size and shape of the beak.

Credit © Ian Halliday and Peter Lowe

The last two black cockatoos are both endemic to southwestern Australia and look very similar: Carnaby's Black Cockatoos (left) and Baudin's Black Cockatoo (right).

They differ by the size of their beaks, Carnaby's have a short and wide beak while Baudin's is longer and more narrow.

They were both named after an Australian naturalist (Ivan Carnaby) and a French explorer (Nicolas Baudin).

Pink Cockatoos

Credit © Luke Seitz and Peter Lowe

Number two on my bucket list is the Major Mitchell's Cockatoo. They are found in a wind variety of habitats in inland Australia, they tend to prefer dry woodlands. They have a magnificent crest with marks of red and yellow at the base.

The Galah is one of the most common cockatoos found in Australia. They are usually found in flocks of 30+ birds in most of south Australia. They look dull from the back but have a beautiful bright pink chest.


Credit © Ray Thurnbull

The Western Corella is endemic to southwestern Australia. It entirely white with blue eyes and some traces of red on the face.

The Long-billed Corella is similar to the western although it has a lot more red to the face and has a shorter crest. The Little Corella is also similar although it is a lot smaller and has a shorter bill. These two can be found in most of eastern Australia.

The last cockatoo on the list is the Cockatie which is the smallest cockatoo. It has a yellow face and crest and an orange cheek patch. They can be found in most of inland Australia.


Credit © Frank Coman

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