Smash Negativity Team

7 Common Types of Cockatoos

birds, parrots

“Cock-a-doodle-do, my dame has lost her shoe…” Do you remember this nursery rhyme? Tell me, it’s not just me. Cockatoos brought that rhyme to memory.

Do you know what a cockatoo is or are you a novice like I was sometime ago? Maybe you know what it is but not its name. You’ve probably seen and admired it on your walk in a nature park, in pictures or videos or on one of your many trips to foreign lands.  I like those words, foreign lands! You might have even called it by its generic name, parrot and you are not wrong because the cockatoo is a type of parrot.

This article on the types of cockatoos is written for naturally curious humans who love birds, especially parrots and want to know more about the cockatoo. It is also written for those who love cockatoos and want to know which type to adopt as a pet.

You will learn about 7 different types of cockatoos and some juicy facts about the species. It’s going to be a sweet adventure into the parrot world. Let’s begin.

I Am The Cockatoo!

What if animals could introduce themselves? What would they say? Well, let’s find out from this special bird—the cockatoo.

“Hello humans. It’s me, Cockatoo. Some of you may know me, others may not. This is an introduction for my new friends.

I am Cockatoo. I am one of the 21 species of parrot, which means I am a parrot. You can recognize me from other parrots by my crest and curved bill.

I am a native of the Australian and Asian continents, most specifically the Philippines, Indonesia, New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and Australia.

Unlike other parrots, I am not multicolored. I appear in white, grey or black and the only colors you might find on me are on my tail, crest or cheek.

In terms of relationships, I am monogamous; one partner is enough. In terms of feeding, I am omnivorous, eating seeds, tubers, insects, flowers, fruits and corms.

I have an average lifespan of 50 to 70 years and I’m either bred in captivity or kept as a pet by humans. As a pet, I am a very affectionate bird. I must admit that I am sometimes difficult to take care of because I demand constant attention and can be depressed and destructive if denied. However, I can be the best companion you ever had.

Habitat loss is leading to the decline of many of my kind and only very few of us adapt and survive in the hands of humans.

This is a brief summary of myself.”

There, you have it. Now let’s learn more about this species by considering the types of cockatoos.

Types of Cockatoos

The cockatoo is a type of parrot and like many other parrots, it is kept as a pet by humans. They are loved for their ability to mimic human speech and perform tricks.

There are about 21 types of cockatoos but we will identify and learn about 7 types of cockatoos.

1. The Glossy Black Cockatoo

This type of cockatoo is common to eastern Australia and Kangaroo Island in southern Australia. It has a black-brown body and red stripes on its tail feathers.

The name of the bird seems ironic compared to it’s features because its body is dull-black and not glossy at all.

The male and female have distinct features that identify them. Adult females have irregular yellow patches on their heads and their tails might have yellow or orange stripes, while the males have just the red stripes on their tail feathers.

They fly in pairs of twos or threes or in small family flocks, unlike other types of cockatoos. They are quiet except during breeding, flying, fighting or at drinking sites.

They have strong beaks that help them break cones of she-oak trees to extract seeds for feeding and they are also one of the rarest and friendliest subspecies of cockatoos you would ever meet.

2. Cockatiel

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The cockatiel is known by the crest on top of its head. It can occur in different colors, such as grey, white or yellow.  The cockatiel is a very social bird and bonds strongly with their human companions.

You can tell the mood of the cockatiel by the position of the crest on its head. If the crest is upright, it means the bird is startled or curious. If the crest is held back, it means the bird is relaxed, and if the crest is flattened close to the head, the bird is defensive or stressed.

The cockatiel has a lifespan of 20 years and has a lower noise volume, which makes them excellent pets. They whistle more than they talk and can mimic sounds. Only the males are inclined to talk.

Cockatiels feed on fruits, berries, grasses, seeds, vegetables and nuts.

3. Palm Cockatoo

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The Palm Cockatoo comes in black or smoky-grey color. It has a large crest and the second largest beak out of all the parrot species. Its beak is large enough to break hard nuts for food.

It also has a distinctive red patch on the cheeks that changes color depending on its mood. It can change to pink or beige when stressed and yellow when excited.

Palm cockatoos communicate by drumming against a tree with sticks or nuts. This helps to communicate territorial boundaries.

Palm cockatoos can be found alone, in pairs or in large groups. They are very social animals. They roost near sources of food and water during the day and near their nests at night.

One interesting fact about the Palm cockatoos is that when it rains, they hang upside down from the tree branches and stretch their wings and tails as if taking a shower. Humans alone do not get to enjoy the rain, of course.

4. Gang-Gang Cockatoo

The Gang-Gang cockatoo is a type of cockatoo that has grey plumage. The male and female are distinct by coloration. While the males have scarlet heads and crests, the females have gray heads and crests. However, the young Gang-Gang look like adult females, except that the young males have a red crown and forehead.

The Gang-Gang are arboreal animals and can only be found on the ground when they need to pick seeds or have a drink. They feed on insect larvae, berries and eucalypt seeds.

Fun facts about the Gang-Gang are that they use their left foot to hold their food when eating and they communicate with sounds that resemble a rusty hinge or creaky gate.

I don’t know about you but I think the rusty sounds this parrot made were a consideration in naming it (just saying).

5. Galah

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The Galah is also called the rose cockatoo because of its characteristic pale-pink crest, rose-pink head and neck, and its grey wings and tail.

It is found in urban areas and is a very common pet since it adapts easily to eating cultivated food. This also makes them an agricultural pest as they destroy farmers’ crops. Galahs also feed on seeds of grasses, grains and herbs.

Fun fact about galahs – their name is an Aboriginal name “Galah” meaning fool or clown. However, “galah” is an Australian slang for a loudmouth person; thus, the name is used for the bird because it is noisy and talkative.

It is a friendly and affectionate bird and is common as a pet for humans. You must also give it your full attention if you don’t want any disasters. They can also learn tricks and do aerobic acrobatics.

6. Pink Cockatoo (Major Mitchell’s Cockatoo)

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This is a small, white cockatoo with pink on its face, neck and under its wing. This light-pink coloration is its distinct feature.

Their crest is white, with a unique red band and yellow crest running in the middle. They are omnivores and eat seeds, nuts, berries, flowers and insects.

An interesting fact about this parrot is that it was renamed Pink Cockatoo due to the involvement of Major Mitchell in the massacre of Aboriginal people in Australia.

Another fun fact is that it is named the most beautiful parrot in the world. If you see its image, you’ll agree too.

7. Umbrella Cockatoo

Also called “white cockatoo”, this parrot is known for being an affectionate bird. It is distinguished from other white cockatoos by its white crest that rises like an umbrella when the bird is excited, agitated or angry.

Due to its affectionate behaviour, this bird can be clingy, playful one minute and angry the next. If you withhold your attention or keep the bird in isolation, it can get violent, depressed and die.

Cockatoos are really wonderful birds, beautiful, intelligent and worthy of admiration. I enjoyed writing this piece and I believe you will too.

I was so impressed by the antics of the palm cockatoo, the umbrella cockatoo and the Galah, especially the story about how it got its name—it sounds like someone I know.

If your birthday gift was to be a cockatoo, which type of cockatoo would you choose? By the way, did you find out the nursery rhyme I shared earlier?



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