Greater Sulphur-Crested Cockatoo

Greater Sulphur-Crested Cockatoo
Scientific NameCacatua galerita galerita
Common NameGreater Sulphur-Crested Cockatoo
Care LevelAdvanced
Lifespan40-70 years
Adult Size18-22 inches
DietSeeds, fruits, nuts, vegetables
OriginAustralia and New Guinea
TemperamentIntelligent, affectionate, loud

History & Domestication

The Greater Sulphur-Crested Cockatoo, one of the most recognized and charismatic members of the parrot family, originates from the woodlands and rainforests of Australia and New Guinea. Their striking appearance, coupled with their bold nature, has made them iconic, both in their native habitat and globally.

Historically, these birds were revered by indigenous peoples, often appearing in tribal stories and legends. With the colonization of Australia, their appeal spread to the western world. However, this popularity also led to extensive trapping and trading, which impacted their wild populations. Today, with regulations and a focus on captive breeding, the wild populations have stabilized, but challenges remain due to habitat loss and fragmentation.


Typically, a Greater Sulphur-Crested Cockatoo will measure between 18 to 22 inches from beak to tail, making them one of the larger cockatoo species. Their size, coupled with their energy, makes them a handful and necessitates ample space for housing and play.


With proper care and attention, these birds can live for a remarkably long time, often between 40 to 70 years. This longevity implies that owning a Greater Sulphur-Crested Cockatoo is not just a commitment, but a lifelong partnership. Some cockatoos have even been known to outlive their original owners, so provisions for their long-term care are crucial.


Breeding the Greater Sulphur-Crested Cockatoo can be both challenging and rewarding. They usually opt for nesting in tree hollows in their natural habitat. In captivity, breeding pairs require a large nesting box. Females typically lay 2-3 eggs, which they incubate for about 27-30 days. Both parents take part in raising the chicks, which fledge after approximately 10 weeks.

Unique Features

The most distinguishing feature of the Greater Sulphur-Crested Cockatoo is its stunning crest. This bright yellow, fan-like crest stands in contrast to its primarily white body. They can raise or lower this crest, often indicating their mood or emotions. Their piercing eyes, surrounded by a ring of deep blue, give them an expression of curiosity.

Behavior and Temperament

Greater Sulphur-Crested Cockatoos are highly intelligent and emotionally complex birds. They are incredibly social and thrive on interaction, whether with their human companions, other birds, or their reflections in a mirror. Their intelligence, however, means they require constant mental stimulation, or they can become destructive or develop behavioral issues. They’re also known for their loud vocalizations, which can range from mimicking sounds to piercing calls.


Establishing trust is essential when handling these birds. Regular, gentle handling, combined with positive reinforcement, can help in fostering a strong bond. Due to their playful nature, they also benefit from toys and puzzles that can be manipulated with their dexterous feet and beak.

Grooming Needs

Routine grooming helps in maintaining the health and well-being of a Greater Sulphur-Crested Cockatoo. This involves regular wing trimming to prevent unwanted flight, nail trimming, and occasional beak checks. Bathing, through misting or showers, is also beneficial as it helps in keeping their feathers in top condition.

Diet & Nutrition

While seeds and nuts form a significant part of their diet, a balanced diet for these cockatoos should also include fresh fruits and vegetables. Pelleted diets, specially formulated for cockatoos, can also be provided. As with all pets, fresh water should always be readily available.


Being native to warm regions of Australia and New Guinea, these cockatoos prefer a warmer climate. If housed outdoors, they require protection from colder temperatures. Indoors, they should be in a stable environment, away from drafts or direct heating sources.

Common Health Issues

Greater Sulphur-Crested Cockatoos are susceptible to various health issues, including fungal infections, beak and feather disease, respiratory disorders, and obesity. Regular check-ups and an observant owner can help in early detection and treatment.

Habitat Requirements

Due to their size and active nature, these birds need a spacious and robust cage. The cage should be equipped with perches of varying diameters, toys, and climbing structures. The cage bars should be strong enough to withstand their strong beaks.

Cost of Care

Owning a Greater Sulphur-Crested Cockatoo can be a considerable investment, both in terms of time and money. Beyond the initial purchase, there are costs associated with housing, feeding, toys, veterinary care, and other unforeseen expenses. Their long lifespan further amplifies the costs. However, many owners will attest that the joy and companionship these birds bring are priceless.

Greater Sulphur-Crested Cockatoo FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)