Occa is a Sulphur-crested Cockatoo. He is in his late thirties, which is actually still rather young for a Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, as they can live up to 80 years of age and sometimes even past 100. The average cockatoo has the learning capability of about a one- to two year old child, and they can learn and remember many phrases. Occa can do many impersonations, like a rooster crowing, a dog barking and even a kettle whistling. (We are still practising "CRIKEY!").

The eggs are laid in a suitable tree hollow, which is prepared by both sexes. Both birds also incubate and care for the chicks. The chicks remain with the parents all year round and family groups will stay together indefinitely.

The subspecies of the Sulphur-Crested cockatoo (Cacatua galerita) are the Mathew’s sulphur-crested cockatoo (Cacatua galerita fitzroyi), the Triton cockatoo (Cacatua galerita triton) and the Medium Sulphur-crested Cockatoo or Eleonora cockatoo (Cacatua galerita eleonora). All subspecies can be kept as pets, but they are more rare than the ‘normal’ Sulphur-Crested Cockatoo Cacatua galerita galerita. In appearance and behavior the subspecies are almost the same.

There are four subspecies of the Sulphur-Crested cockatoo. A subspecies is a group that is considered part of a species, but differs in certain traits. Usually the subspecies occurs in a different  location with almost no contact between the subspecies and the species, e.g. on islands. Mating the species with one of its subspecies will yield fertile offspring, but it is not recommended to breed them in this way because the distinct traits of the subspecies will be lost.

One of Australia's most popular and iconic birds, the Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, has been known to live up to eighty years of age in captivity.

There is currently no expert advice on this bird species.

Mid-morning the cockatoos usually feed on seeds on the ground, then during the hottest part of the day they sit in trees near the feeding area, stripping the leaves and bark. In the afternoon they feed again and then fly back to their roosting trees for the night. Each day they return to feed in the same area until the food supply is exhausted. They eat the seeds of grasses and herbaceous plants, grains, bulbous roots, berries, nuts and leaf buds.

The Sulphur-crested cockatoo occurs in Northern and Eastern Australia and New-Guinea. They live in the forests, especially on the edges. They are also common in urban areas.

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Sulphur-crested cockatoos may no longer be imported into the United States as a result of the Wild Bird Conservation Act (WBCA).[9] However, they have been bred in captivity. They are socially demanding pets and have a natural desire to chew wood and other hard and organic materials. They are also loud, often unleashing loud squawks or piercing screeches. They may also make aggressive, unpredictable movements which can frighten people and animals unaware of the accompanying affection.

Their distinctive raucous call can be very loud; it is adapted to travel through the forest environments in which they live, including tropical and subtropical rainforests. These birds are naturally curious, as well as very intelligent. They have adapted very well to European settlement in Australia and live in many urban areas.

One cockatoo called Fred was still alive at 100 years of age in 2014.[10] Cocky Bennett of Tom Ugly's Point in Sydney was a celebrated sulphur-crested cockatoo who reached an age of 100 years or more. He had lost his feathers and was naked for much of his life, and died in the early years of the twentieth century. His body was stuffed and preserved after death.[11] Another 'cocky', born in 1921 and residing in Arncliffe with his owner Charlie Knighton, was 76 years old in the late 1990s.[3]

A 2009 study involving an Eleonora cockatoo (the subspecies Cacatua galerita eleonora) named Snowball found that sulphur-crested cockatoos are capable of synchronising movements to a musical beat.[6]

Joey is very polite and loves to say 'hello' to everyone, even though he is not as talkative as some of the other Sulphur-Crested Cockatoos at Australia Zoo. Joey much prefers to cuddle up to his handler while he is out on his walks. He loves to be scratched around the head and to have his feathers ruffled so that he can clean them up again. He really is a big softy!

He's very intelligent and even surprises us sometimes with what he comes out with. He often asks us if we want a drink of water or a cup of coffee, but one day he said, "Occa wants a can of coke". Occa is such a great mate, and always has his keepers laughing.

The Sulphur-crested Cockatoo's range extends throughout the northern and eastern mainland, and Tasmania. A small population has become established around Perth, Western Australia. The species also occurs in New Guinea and the Aru Islands, and has been introduced into New Zealand and Indonesia.

There are two subspecies of these birds, the Greater and Lesser Sulphur Crested Cockatoos. The Greater Sulphur Crested Cockatoos are quite large, and can reach lengths of up to 20 inches from the beak to the tail, weighing as much as 2 pounds. The Lesser Sulpher Crested Cockatoos are normally in the range of 13 - 15 inches in length.

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The popularity of the Sulphur-crested Cockatoo as a cage bird has increased its range, as these birds either escape or are released deliberately in areas where they do not already occur. The species has become a pest around urban areas, where it uses its powerful bill to destroy timber decking and panelling on houses.

In the wild, Sulpher Crested Cockatoos feast on seeds, grain, and insects that they harvest from trees. In captivity, a Sulpher Crested Cockatoo must have a varied diet that includes high quality pellets and seed, along with fresh fruits and vegetables. Owners of Sulphur Crested Cockatoos often take great care in preparing their birds' diets, as Cockatoos can quickly suffer from the effects of poor nutrition.

The Sulphur-crested Cockatoo's normal diet consists of berries, seeds, nuts and roots. It also takes handouts from humans. Feeding normally takes place in small to large groups, with one or more members of the group watching for danger from a nearby perch. When not feeding, birds will bite off smaller branches and leaves from trees. These items are not eaten, however. The activity may help to keep the bill trimmed and from growing too large.

There are currently no major threats to the sulphur-crested cockatoo. Whilst this species is popular as an aviary bird, international trade is regulated and its global population is very large (2) (7).

The Sulpher Crested Cockatoos are primarily white, with black beaks. They sport a beautiful crest of yellow feathers on top of their heads, which is the trait that gave them their names!

The sulphur-crested cockatoo is listed on Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), which regulates international trade in this species through the use of permits and annual quotas (3). While this regulation remains in place, there is little cause for concern regarding this species’ survival (2).

This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact: arkive@wildscreen.org.uk

For more information on this and other bird species please see:

The Sulphur-Crested Cockatoo (Cacatua galerita) is one of the big species of cockatoos. There are some species that look almost exactly like this one, but those are smaller in body size. The Sulphur-Crested cockatoo has white feathers, a yellow crest, yellow feathers under the wings and a black bill and black feet. Even when the crest is put down, it is still visible. The feathers of the crest are pointy and loose-fitting.

Joey is one of our gorgeous Sulphur-Crested Cockatoos who just loves to go for walks around the Zoo meeting guests.

Sulphur-crested Cockatoo

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The Lesser Sulphur-Crested cockatoo (Cacatua sulphurea sulphurea) looks similar to the Sulphur-Crested cockatoo, but is a completely different species. They can not be interbred. They occur on different continents.

Sulphur-crested Cockatoos nest in hollow limbs or holes high up in Eucalypts near water. They breed between August and January in the South and March to September in the North

In Australia, the sulphur-crested cockatoo inhabits forest, woodland and cultivated cropland, while in New Guinea it occurs in lowland forest up to elevations of 1,400 metres (2).

Widely distributed through most types of open timbered country throughout northern, eastern and southwestern mainland.

The Sulphur-crested Cockatoo is probably Australia's best known parrot. These birds are often kept as pets, as they are extremely intelligent and are very good at learning to talk. Be warned though - they can be very loud, mischievous and live for more than 70 years! If you don't have the time to spend with these wonderful birds, they are not the pet for you.

The Sulphur Crested Cockatoo is a highly energetic and lively bird that requires a good deal of exercise to maintain proper health. Owners of Sulphur Crested Cockatoos should allow their pets a minimum of 3-4 hours per day outside of their cages. It is also important for owners to provide plenty of space for the bird to climb, stretch, flap its wings, and play. Most Cockatoo owners provide their birds with playstands or special perches that their pets can exercise on.

Because of the size and intelligence of this species of cockatoo, it is less easily kept as a pet than the smaller species like the corella’s. Sulphur-Crested cockatoos can produce an insane amount of noise and need a very large cage. This makes them less suitable to be kept in a house. They do very well in an aviary with other cockatoos of their species. Usually this species is found in bird parks, zoos and breeders and not so much in people’s homes.

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Classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List (1) and listed on Appendix II of CITES (3).

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