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The Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, is a relatively large white cockatoo found in wooded habitats in Australia and New Guinea. They can be locally very numerous, leading to them sometimes being considered pests. They are well known in aviculture, although they can be demanding pets.
In Australia, Sulphur-crested Cockatoos can be found widely in the north and east, ranging as far south as Tasmania, but avoiding arid inland areas with few trees. They are numerous in suburban habitats in cities such as Adelaide, Melbourne, Canberra, Sydney and Brisbane. Except for highland areas, they occur throughout most of New Guinea and on nearby smaller islands such as Waigeo, Misool and Aru, and various islands in the Cenderawasih Bay and Milne Bay.
Within Australia, Sulphur-crested Cockatoos of the nominate race have also been introduced to Perth, which is far outside the natural range. Outside Australia, they have been introduced to Singapore, where their numbers have been estimated to be between 500 and 2000. They have also been introduced to Palau and New Zealand. In New Zealand the introduced populations may number less than 1000. This species has also been recorded from various islands in Wallacea (e.g. Kai Islands and Ambon), but it is unclear if it has managed to become established there.
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.
These birds are very long-lived, and can live upwards of 70 years in captivity, although they only live to about 20–40 years in the wild. They have been known to engage in geophagy, the process of eating clay to detoxify their food. These birds produce a very fine powder to waterproof themselves instead of oil as many other creatures do.
The Sulphur-crested Cockatoo is a seasonal breeder in Australia, little is known about its breeding behaviour in New Guinea. In southern Australia the breeding season is from August to January, whereas in northern Australia the season is from May to September. The nest is a bed of wood chips in a hollow in a tree. Like many other parrots it competes with others of its species and with other species on nesting sites. Two to three eggs are laid and incubation lasts between 25–27 days. Both parents incubate the eggs and raise the nestlings. The nestling period is between 9 to 12 weeks, and the young fledgelings remain with their parents for a number of months after fledging.
Species that feed on the ground are very vulnerable to predator attack. The Cockatoo has evolved a behavioural adaptation to protect against this: whenever there is a flock on the ground, there is at least one high up in a tree (usually a dead tree), keeping guard. This is so well known that it has even entered Australian slang: a person keeping guard for sudden police raids on illegal gambling gatherings is referred to as a Cockatoo or Cocky for short.