Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Sulphur-crested Cockatoo

Cacatua galerita
You may recognize today's animal, the Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, from their popularity in the pet industry and from their iconic looks. In the wild they hail from Australia and New Guinea, and in some places they are so numerous that they are actually considered pests!

When you think of a Cockatoo, you probably envision this species- snowy white body, large yellow crest on the head, loud squawks and even the ability to mimic words! In captivity they have been taught numerous tricks, sounds, and behaviors.

In the wild they are incredibly gregarious, and live in flocks that can number into the hundreds. They feed on fruits, grains, seeds, and the occasional insect. Their large flocks and feeding habits have caused damage to some farm areas, but they are a protected bird in Australia, so removal can only be done with the required permits.

Sulphur-crested Cockatoos breed at different times of the year, depending on their location. Southern flocks tend to breed during the spring and summer, while Northern flocks are on a more wintertime schedule. Pairs come together and build their own nests (usually in a hollow tree), and 2-3 eggs are laid. Both parents help to incubate, and later feed, their chicks.

As previously mentioned, Sulphur-crested Cockatoos are popular in the pet industry. Their international trade is regulated, which means that most in North America were captive bred. As a pet they are very, very demanding. Because they are such social birds in the wild, they need to form strong bonds with their human caregivers in order to have their companionship needs satisfied. They can be loud and destructive (to themselves and their enclosures) if they don't receive the proper amount of attention and stimulation. However, if you do have the time and energy for one of these beautiful birds (and I stress time - they can live over 70 years!) they can be extremely loving, affectionate pets.

IUCN Status : Least Concern
Location : Australia, New Guinea
Size : Body Length up to 22in (55cm)
Classification : Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Aves -- Order : Psittaciformes
Family : Cacatuidae -- Genus : Cacatua -- Species : C. galerita

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