Sulphur-crested cockatoo

Billie the sulphur-crested cockatoo (Cacatua galerita) climbing a tree in the Dawn Road Reserve near its new home.

Billie the sulphur-crested cockatoo (Cacatua galerita) climbing a tree in the Dawn Road Reserve near its new home.

Regular visitors in and around the Dawn Road Reserve are the rather noisy sulphur-crested cockatoos (Cacatua galerita). You’ll hear one squawk to its mate or offspring, or evens dozens of them calling to one another as their flock scans the horizon for likely sources of food.

According to Birds in Backyards, the large, white sulphur-crested cockatoo is a member of the parrot family and is distinguished by a bright yellow crest on its head and “a yellow wash on the underside of its wings”. In some quarters, cockatoos are thought of as “naughty” birds, with their diet extending from berries, seeds to nuts and roots.

However, when not feeding, they are known to get into a bit of mischief, snapping off smaller branches and leaves from trees as they keep their beaks trim. (Unfortunately, this behaviour has been known, on occasion, to extend to timber decking and panelling on houses.)

Billie the rescued young sulphur-crested cockatoo checks out potential menu items on the footpath outside his new Albany Creek home.

Billie the rescued young sulphur-crested cockatoo checks out potential menu items on the footpath outside his new Albany Creek home.

Billie the sulphur-crested cockatoo taking a walk through suburbia at Albany Creek

Here you can see Billie’s distinct sulphur crest while the young bird takes a walk through suburbia at Albany Creek

The young bird above was rescued as an abandoned fledgling by a local family when it was barely a month old. It was soon learning to say a few words – hello and I love you – and mimicking its canine companion, other birds and neighbourhood noises.

Its adopted family have called it Billie, short for billabong, as this bird is still too young to properly determine its gender. Billie has since become a family pet and enjoys going for walks and climbing nearby trees in the Dawn Road Reserve.

If you’re particularly alert for a slightly different sound to the classic squawk of the sulphur-crested cockatoo, you may also see another of the seven species of cockatoos native to Australia right here in the Dawn Road Reserve.

Larger than its sulphur-crested cousin, Birds in Backyards says the yellow-tailed black cockatoo (Calyptorhynchus funereus) “is easily identified by its mostly black plumage, with most body feathers edged with yellow, not visible at a distance. It has a yellow cheek patch and yellow panels on the tail”.

This species of cockatoo moves in smaller flocks and feeds on seeds of native tree, pinecones and the seeds of ground plants as well as certain insects.

The other species of these parrots include:

Sources: Birds in Backyards, Birdlife Australia

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Images: Trina McLellan

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