Thursday, January 16, 2014

Major Mitchell's Cockatoo

Today's animal is the Major Mitchell's Cockatoo, a bird that calls the arid and semi-arid reaches of the Australian Outback home. They are given their common name in honor of Major Sir Thomas Mitchell, a Scottish surveyor and explorer who did a great deal of work in Australia.

When it comes to their scientific name, there is some debate over what genus the species belongs in. Some give it its very own, Lophochroa, while others place it with the Sulfur-crested Cockatoo and others over in Cacatua. The issue rages on!

Major Mitchell's Cockatoos can be identified by their bright pink crest feather (when erect) and their light pink coloring overall. Males and females can be told apart by their coloration-- females have red eyes and a thick yellow band on the crest feathers.

Major Mitchell's Cockatoos live a nomadic lifestyle, travelling where they need to in order to obtain food and suitable breeding conditions. They follow the rains (what little there is). At about five or six years of age they reach sexual maturity and find a mate-- they will stay together for life and raise offspring together. These Cockatoos do not form flocks like other members of their family, in part due to the scarcity of food and nesting sites. It is easier for two birds to find a nest in the Outback than it would be for dozens of them.

IUCN Status : Least Concern
Location : Australia
Size : Length up to 14in (36cm)
Classification : Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Aves -- Order : Psittaciformes
Family : Cacatuidae -- Genus : Lophochroa -- Species : L. leadbeateri
Image : Christopher Watson

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