What to Know Before You Buy
What is that large white bird with the yellow fan atop its head? Why it’s the Sulphur crested cockatoo and if you own one, or are thinking about owning one, you’re in for a treat. Here’s what you want to know before you make a decision.
The Greater Sulphur-crested Cockatoo has a long and fun history as a companion bird. It was collected as early as 1790 by the famous explorer, Captain Cook, on one of his voyages to Australia where they are native and can be found from Far North Queensland to just North of Perth.
In Australia they’re often considered pests by farmers because of their ability to destroy crops and actually munch on homes. They can be so numerous that while they are a protected species, Australians can get a government permit to destroy them.
Sulphur Crested Cockatoo Appearance
Greater Sulphur-crested Cockatoos are a full-sized cockatoo which means they’re big. They can and do grow to about 19 inches long and are considered among the largest of the cockatoos. Their feathers are white like a traditional cockatoo yet they have a bright yellow crest.
The underside of their wings and tail is also tinged with yellow. Their eyes are rimmed with a blue skin and the iris of a male is dark brown while the iris of a female is reddish brown. But don’t go looking into the eyes of a cockatoo to determine if it is a male or female, experts recommend surgical or DNA sexing.
Sulphur Crested Cockatoo Behavior
Typical to Cockatoos, the Sulphur Crested Cockatoo is an extremely affectionate and intelligent bird. They generally bond very strongly with one owner and caregiver and will shower this person with tons of affection.
While there are always exceptions to the rule, they generally enjoy being petted, snuggled, and basically considered one of the family. If you are looking for a devoted friend and lifelong companion, the Sulphur Crested Cockatoo may be the ideal bird for you.
Remember, that in order to receive affection, you must be able to give it – particularly where the Sulphur Crested is concerned. Your Sulphur Crested needs a large amount of your time each day. This time can be spent hanging out, playing, bonding, and trick training.
They’re incredibly intelligent and trick training is usually the key to a strong bond of trust and a well behaved cockatoo. If you’re unable to spend a significant amount of time with your Sulphur Crested, you will have an unhappy bird and the potential for some very bad behavior problems.
Speaking of which…
Sulphur Crested Cockatoo Common Health and Behavior Problems
I’m just going to come out and say it because there is no way around it and to not mention it would do you and your future Sulphur Crested Cockatoo a disservice. Sulphur Crested Cockatoos are loud. I don’t mean they make a bit of noise – they’re loud!
They enjoy making an enthusiastic ruckus in the morning, when your neighbors really appreciate it, and they love to make a ruckus in the evening. It’s just their way of enjoying life. So, if you don’t want a noisy bird or you and/or your neighbors can’t handle the noise please don’t get a Sulphur Crested Cockatoo.
Now, having made it clear that they are noisy it must also be said that if your Sulphur Crested is screaming all day long, something’s wrong. Generally there are a few causes of bad behavior which includes screaming, biting, and feather plucking and they all evolve around the bird not living in an optimal environment.
Stress, jealousy, boredom, illness, too small of a cage, not enough entertainment, fear, and other issues can cause behavior problems. Each one is addressed with a modification of the environment, plenty of training, and an abundance of patience and positive reinforcement.
Sulphur-crested Cockatoos are also susceptible to a widespread viral disease known as Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease, which causes the birds to lose their feathers and grow misshaped beaks. They’re also susceptible to parasites, intestinal inflammation, coccidiosis, and respiratory ailments.
Sulphur Crested Cockatoo Caging and Feeding
Due to their very large size and desire for space to move around, a large cage is required (minimum 2 ft. x 2 ft. x 3 ft. high) unless you are able to leave your bird outside of their cage for long periods of time each day.
A pen or a perch works well outside of the cage. They require an abundance of toys to keep their minds and their beaks busy, to leave them without toys is just asking for destruction and unhappiness. In captivity they will enjoy and thrive on a pellet based diet, daily fresh fruits and vegetables and treats of seeds and nuts.
The Sulphur Crested Cockatoo is a wonderful bird if you have the time and desire to care for them the way they demand and deserved to be cared for. If you’re looking for a quiet bird that doesn’t require your time and attention 24/7 then keep looking, the Sulphur Crested isn’t for you.
If however, you want a bird that will love you almost unconditionally, play with you, learn tricks, talk to you, and entertain you 24/7 then the Sulphur Crested may be exactly what you’re looking for.