Healesville Sanctuary

Sulphur-crested Cockatoo

These inquisitive and friendly birds are well known to most Australians because they are still sometimes sought out as pets and taught to ‘talk’. Their white feathers, yellow crest, large black bill and stately walk make them instantly recognisable. 

They are native to Australia, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea. They are classed as ‘least concern’ by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (on the IUCN ‘red list’). 

Meeting the Sulphur-crested Cockatoos at Healesville Sanctuary is an important way to connect with the native birds of Australia, and to learn about the Sanctuary’s conservation programs, especially those aimed at conserving threatened native species. The money you spend helps to support the Sanctuary’s conservation programs and its care of native wildlife, as well as fight species extinction. 

Sulphur-crested Cockatoos live very long lives, which may exceed 60 years. They have a loud, raucous call – one of the most distinctive sounds of the Australian bush.

An adult is about 50cm long and weighs up to 950g.

Sulphur-crested Cockatoos eat seeds, berries, fruits, nuts, roots and sometimes insects. When a flock is feeding on the ground, at least one remains in a tree and keeps watch for predators.

Sulphur-crested Cockatoos are found in eastern Australia and the north of the Northern Territory. Their preferred habitat is dense forest but they are frequently seen near human habitats, including, alarmingly, the sides of highways. You can help to protect them by driving carefully and slowing down (if it is safe to do so) when you see a flock near the road. If you find an injured bird, contact the local wildlife care group and take care not to touch the bird without good reason – they bite hard.

Sulphur-crested Cockatoos nest in tree hollows. They typically lay two to three eggs; incubation is 25–27 days. The young are able to become independent of their parents within 9 weeks of hatching.