Friday, March 4, 2016

Sulfur-crested Cockatoo, Australia

Many of the birds of Australasia are unique to the area and found nowhere else. The Sulfur-crested Cockatoo is one of those birds.

The big, creamy white bird is well known from forests to front yards here in Australia. Highly visible in their own right, they intentionally make their presence known. 

They have a loud, squawking voice and they’re not shy about announcing their arrival. Flying overhead they take-on a ghostly eeriness.

A large bird with a sizable beak, they cause considerable damage around the house to deck railings and wooden furniture. Consequently, they are not routinely welcome at backyard feeders. According to our Australian friends, Ken and Deidre Heppell, at whose home we are staying, they are pests.

Whether it’s a matter of too large, too loud or too destructive, Australians grudgingly accept the Sulfur-crested Cockatoo’s visits, but are far from loving them.

While acknowledging the locals' assessment of the Sulfur-crested Cockatoos, the fact remains they are beautiful birds by all other measurements.

A fine sulfur-colored comb raised or lowered by degrees of excitement sets off a regal white-robed bird. 

(Sexes look alike)

Not everything is beautiful in the cockatoo’s world though.  A virus afflicts a small percentage of the birds. This cockatoo is likely to have contracted that virus, resulting in a loss of feathers with physical deformities to follow.

His outcome is not promising.

For the remainder of the flock, an occasional preening keeps up their appearances.

Preening endears oneself to a mate. Cooperative grooming strengthens the social contract between birds as well as removing freeloaders. 

Sulfur-crested Cockatoos mate for life and may live for 20-40 years in the wild…100 years in captivity.

It’s late summer down under and shade from the hot Australian sun is welcome.
An afternoon nap is in order for this early rising bird.

I may never convince my Australian friends, Ken and Dee, what enjoyment comes to mind at the sight of this delightful, comical bird, but that’s okay.

As native Australians they have lived with the Sulfur-crested Cockatoo all their lives.

I have just met them.


Credits: Wikipedia, Psittacine beak and feather disease