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The Sulphur Crested Cockatoos
Sandra Dobbs and Carol Highfill

GREATER, MEDIUM and LESSER SULPHUR CRESTED COCKATOOS are all white with a yellow or orange crest and under tail and vary mainly in size.

Tritons, and Galeritas are some of the greater sulphur crested cockatoo sub species, although the Triton is probably the one most seen in the US.

The species GALERITA (SULPHUR CRESTED) contains four sub-species galerita (Greater Sulphur Crested or GSC), eleonora (Eleonora, sometimes called Medium Sulphur Crested or MSC), fitzroyi and triton (Triton). The Greater Sulphur Crested is native to Tasmania and east and southeast Australia, the Eleonora to the Aru islands and Indonesia, the fitzroyi from northern to eastern Australia and the Triton to the Papuan, Trobriand and Woodlark islands and New Guinea.

All birds in the species are white with yellow crest and ear-coverts. The underparts of the flight-feathers and tail are also yellow.


Diet: Consists mainly of fruits, nuts, berries, flowers, roots, insects and larvae.

Incubation period, weaning: Incubation is about 25 days. Chicks leave the nest in about ten weeks. They prefer nests in high trees and near water.

Greater Sulphurs (20 inches) talk, are beautiful intelligent showoffs and can live over 100 years.

Eleanoras (medium sulphur crested), are social, good natured, active, acrobatic and have a sunny disposition. They talk some, make an excellent companion, and aren't as needy as some of the other cockatoos.

The species SULPHUREA (LESSER SULPHUR CRESTED) contains six sub-species: abbotti, citrinocristata (Citron), djampeana, occidentalis, parvula (Timor) and sulphurea (Lesser Sulphur Crested). All come from different islands and have a similar appearance: white with a yellow crest and earspot with yellow underwing coverts and undertail feathers. However, the Citron's yellow areas are more orange than the others. The two sub-species most commonly found in the US are the Citrons and Lessor Sulphur Crested.

Citrons and Lessers, also good pets, are approximately 14 inches in length. Citrons are beautiful with an orange crest and faint yellowish-orange-cheek patches. Lesser sulphur cresteds look almost like their larger cousins, with a yellow crest, but their cheek patches are more pronounced and a deeper yellow than in the larger subspecies. Citrons and lessers are very loving and affectionate but tend to be a little shyer than other Cockatoos.


Diet in the wild: Mainly seeds, berries, fruits, nuts and some blossoms.

Incubation period, weaning: Usually up to three eggs are laid. Incubation is about 25 days. Chicks leave the nest in about ten weeks.

Sulphur Cresteds as Pets

Sulphur Crested Cockatoos make wonderful pets. They are less "clingy" than some of the other cockatoo species, but still love their attention. They are tremendous show-offs - if I was planning on training one of my birds to do "tricks", it would definitely be Dundee, my medium Sulphur Crested (Eleanora). He is extremely intelligent, and can escape from any cage with any lock when he wants to. He is very outgoing, and can be a bit aggressive - these are not birds for timid people. If you're a first-time bird-owner and thinking of adopting a sulphur crested, then be sure to have someone who is VERY experienced with handling them teach you how - otherwise your household may be terrorized by a white and yellow bird who knows EXACTLY who is boss!

Sulphur Cresteds are very active birds, and need plenty of room to play and exercise. They love to flap their wings, particularly when bathing and displaying. They can also be VERY loud! Their scream is more piercing than that of the Umbrella or the Moluccan, and if they ever go into "repeat mode" you may find yourself contemplating "cockatoo stew". Fortunately, as long as they have their basic needs met, they will be happy playing and amusing themselves.

And speaking of play - be sure to provide your Sulphur Crested with lots of challenging toys. They enjoy puzzles and toys that they can dismantle so that you can re-assemble them for them. Also be sure to provide your Sulphur Crested with plenty of nice soft wood to chew on - chewing is a basic need of all cockatoos, and Sulphur Cresteds seem to take this "hobby" to the extreme. Dundee once ate an entire louvered door that he was sitting on when I wasn't paying attention!

So if you decide on making a Sulphur Crested a part of your life, be prepared for great frustration, the judicious use of earplugs, and the greatest joy that you can imagine - they are truly "one of a kind" birds.

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