Yellow-crested Cockatoo

The yellow-crested cockatoo, also known as lesser sulfur crested cockatoo (Cacatua sulphurea) are similar to the umbrella (white) cockatoo with just a few key differences. They are native to Indonesia.



As their name would suggest, they have a yellow crest; although this sometimes comes in an orange color as well. Like the umbrella cockatoo, the yellow-crest cockatoo can expand the feathers on their head in a grand display. Due to the yellow feathers concentrated in only this area, it can draw quite a lot of attention to the crest when being flaunted. For this reason, some owners have taken to the yellow-crested cockatoo as their favorite. Even when folded back, the yellow feathers tend to draw attention.

The yellow crested cockatoo is one of the species of cockatoos where it’s possible to tell the sex of the bird by its eye color. The female eyes are a red color and the males have black eyes. Around the eyes the skin is bluish in both the male and female.

They are usually around twelve to fourteen inches long and weigh eleven or twelve ounces.

The yellow-crested cockatoo is sometimes confused for a closely related cockatoo, the sulfur-crested cockatoo. Sulfur-crested cockatoos tend to be more common and are larger in size when compared to the yellow-crested cockatoo, and there are also subtle differences in the plumage.



This yellow crested cockatoo has a varied diet as do most other cockatoos. It will eat berries, nuts, seeds, and even flowers. When its natural forested environment is destroyed it will move on to agricultural areas where it feeds on maze and rice. When this happens they are considered pests by farmers.

They feed in groups or flocks.



Like many other cockatoos, the yellow crested, breeds in cavities in trees. They find cavities formed by decaying would or that have been dug out by other animals such as woodpeckers. They cannot dig the hollow out the cavities on their own.

They usually lay two or three eggs in each clutch. Both parents stay with the eggs for the incubation which last around twenty-eight days. The baby chicks leave the nest approximately seventy-five days after they hatch.

Most cockatoos mate for life and form strong bonds with their partner.


Life Span

Like many other cockatoos, they yellow crested can enjoy a long life span when living in a safe environment. They often live over fifty years.


As a Pet

Because of its beauty the yellow crested cockatoo is a popular pet. However, it is not recommend for new bird owners. Like other cockatoos it is a social bird that requires a lot of time. They crave attention and will not do well without lots of it. Do not purchase this type of bird for a pet unless you’re prepared to lavish a lot of time and attention on it.

Its diet is mix of 60% dry food pellets and 40% fresh foods such as fruits, vegetables and nuts.

Its call is harsh and can be annoying to neighbors if you live in an apartment or if you have small children who need to nap during the day. They cannot generally be taught to talk though some may mimic a few words.

This species of bird requires a large cage that it can move around in comfortably. It also needs exercise outside of its cage on a daily basis.

When purchasing any type of cockatoo it’s best to visit a store that specializes in exotic birds or a breeder. A regular pet store will probably not have the knowledge that you need to help you get started. Often the birds in those stores will not have been handled much and will be harder to train. Examine the bird closely to make sure it has a healthy appearance with clear eyes and no drainage.

Consider having the bird examined by an avian veterinarian before purchase.

Visit the bird you wish to purchase at the breeders as often as you can and for as long a period of time as possible before you bring it home. This helps you form a bond with the bird and also allows you to learn whether you’re going to be able to care for the bird properly.

Never capture any type of bird in the wild and try to make it a pet. Do not purchase from anyone who has obtained birds in this illegal manner.

There are many groups and forums online where owners of specific types of cockatoos discuss issues involving their pets. Consider joining a few of these groups so you’ll know where to go when you have questions.

Remember, all cockatoos have a long life span so owning one as a pet is a life-time commitment.


Endangered Status

While the white cockatoo is endangered, the yellow-crested cockatoo is critically endangered; meaning that it faces almost eminent extinction if not properly cared for. This has occurred primarily due to the birds being captured too quickly and in too great of a number for their wild population to remain stable.

At one time, their captured and distribution from the wild was entirely unregulated. An estimated 100,000 birds were exported in the span of about a decade before any real concern was given notice. The pet trade has severely impacted the number of yellow crested cockatoos as well as destruction of their natural habitats.

Determining the exact number that still lives in the wild is difficult, but research indicated that there may be as few as 7,000 specimens living in the wild today.

The subspecies abbotti is in particular danger. It is endemic to a tiny island and as of 2008, only 10 wild birds could be confirmed.

In an effort to help save this species, they have been relocated to national parks such as the Komodo National Park on Komodo Island and Nino Konis Santana National Park located in East Timor. They have also been introduced into the city of Hong Kong where they can often be seen in the woods and in parks.

Hopefully, more efforts will be made to save these beautiful, exotic cockatoos before it’s too late.