October 2001 Magazine
The Sulphur-Crested Cockatoos are highly intelligent, empathetic, loving and elegant companion parrots. Their regal, composed posture brings beauty to our lives when we share our home with them. Their witty, clowning actions bring smiles when we give our hearts to them.
My devotion runs deep for the Sulphur-Crested Cockatoos. They have a special need to be appreciated. They need to be a central family member. They need to share in our activities. They need to be loved. Many report that they need to be touched and held and even cuddled, but not like some of the Moluccans and Umbrellas. The Galerita loves to be cuddled and scratched on its owner's lap. Many are never still for very long, as there are toys to play with and things to do that require their attention elsewhere than their owner's lap. Each day I reassure my Sulphur-Crested female that she is loved and appreciated. She rewards me with a steady, good-natured disposition.
I read that 100 percent of all Sulphur-Cresteds talk. I would describe mine's speech as clear, compared to the Umbrella Cockatoos and she knows a lot more words and phrases than she shares with me. She sings Deck the Halls, asks me if she can go with me, and raises her voice to new levels when she announces her name, "Sabrina." Christmas morning she told me, "You're my best friend" which she learned from her talking Paulie Doll.
The Sulphur-Crested family is usually divided in 3 ways for discussion and identification: greater, medium and lesser. Their crests differ and usually their sizes are varying. There are exceptions to every usual and general thing that I will tell you in this article as a lot depends upon the particular bird. This discussion is about their lives in your home, so I will skip the information about where they originate and all the various kinds. I want to describe what it is like to live with any of the 5 types of Sulphur-Cresteds usually seen in pet homes: the Galerita Galerita, the Triton, the Eleonora, the Lesser, and the Citron. There is nothing common about a cockatoo, usual is the better word when I talk about the clever Sulphur-Cresteds.
Many Sulphur-Cresteds are friendly with other birds in the flock. My galerita galerita is 'best friend' to my female Moluccan Cockatoo. Because the Moluccan is much larger, they play with my Sulphur-Crested dominant, or on top, which gives her freedom to get away if the play gets too rough from her larger friend.
These Cockatoos are most easily discerned from other Cockatoos by their intense yellow crest, some of which is always visible. Their beaks and their feet are quite tiny in relation to their body size. They need wooden perches that are not as large around as the Umbrellas or Moluccans need. Many of them like thinnish wood pieces to manicure their beaks instead of hunks of wood like other parrots. Mine loves to chew the thin end of wood shims for beak conditioning.
The smaller Sulphur-Cresteds are said by some owners to be 'perpetual motion machines.' Their owners say they are very active and always moving around. It is in the Citron Cockatoo discussions that I find more stories about frights, fear and shyness than other Sulphur-Cresteds. Citrons can require extra loving patient care, as any cockatoo can. Yet the Citron is a treasured member of many families. Your Citron would do well if you would learn all you can from other owners about their temperament.
Another reason I am such a fan of the Sulphur-Crested Cockatoos is because they love to dance. These parrots like to perform and teaching them to dance on command is sometimes the first trick a patient owner can teach them.
One of the longest-lived parrots, the Greaters can live over 100 years with luck and great care. In art, I see many more Sulphur-Crested Cockatoos than other kinds. I read that one of the Popes kept a Greater Sulphur-Crested at the Vatican in the 1700s. I also read that Michelangelo painted some of his Angel's wings using a Sulphur-Crested Cockatoo as his model.
The Sulphur-Crested Cockatoo will thrive in a patient, somewhat organized household where warm cooked foods are served daily and punctually and where she/he knows they are loved and appreciated. Set a schedule and try to stick to it. Serve meals on time. It is very important to many Sulphur-Cresteds that their food bowl is filled on time. The Sulphur-Crested Cockatoos are said by some to be the best eaters of all the parrots. Here is a photo of Harley, galerita galerita GSC2, demonstrating her large appetite while she works to peel the watermelon.
Some Sulphur-Crested Cockatoos love children. Owners enjoy using this bird to teach children about parrots, although caution is urged to not leave the bird unattended with a child for the safety of both. Their temperament can change suddenly and with little warning. It is also observed that many have extremely demanding natures. Owners observe their body language and let the bird alone when it becomes over-excited.
Sulphur-Cresteds like to form deep bonds with their owners and make excellent pets in a home that can accommodate their need for spacious quarters, need to scream and need to tear up and chew up toys. Their favorite toys are ones they can tear apart to see how they work. My Sabrina was re-homed at age 3. She has an excellent memory and each day is a new adventure to make her feel secure and happy with me. Sabrina sometimes wakes up in the middle of the night and is frightened. A night light for her is mandatory.
A list of commonly applied adjectives to the praise-worthy Sulphur Crested Family: amazing, intelligent, challenging, empathetic, friendly, open, excellent memory, smart, intuitive, aggressive, moody, bold, assertive behavior, challenging, loud, dominant, alpha characteristics, trainable, loyal, loud and large !! Be warned Sulphur-Cresteds can be very loud for their size and are not the best of parrots for an apartment lifestyle. Their large wing-span requires a large cage and outside the cage, a play area where they can exercise those wonderful wings.
Praise your Sulphur-Crested Cockatoo everyday. Then reap the rewards of a stable, well-adjusted, loving companion parrot who will want to become a great friend to you and family.
Winged Wisdom Note: Linda gratefully acknowledges email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org for their refinement by discussion of the ideas presented here. See her toys specially designed for Cockatoos and her toys for other parrots at http://www.discountbirdtoys.com. Linda has published eight articles in consumer and collegiate journals and enjoys the study of parrots and wild birds.
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