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A cockatoo is any of the 21 parrot species belonging to the family Cacatuidae , the only family in the superfamily Cacatuoidea. Along with the Psittacoidea true parrots and the Strigopoidea large New Zealand parrots , they make up the order Psittaciformes. The family has a mainly Australasian distribution, ranging from the Malaysia , Philippines and the eastern Indonesian islands of Wallacea to New Guinea , the Solomon Islands and Australia.

Cockatoos are recognisable by the prominent crests and curved bills. Their plumage is generally less colourful than that of other parrots, being mainly white, grey or black and often with coloured features in the crest, cheeks or tail. On average they are larger than other parrots; however, the cockatiel , the smallest cockatoo species, is a small bird.

The phylogenetic position of the cockatiel remains unresolved, other than that it is one of the earliest offshoots of the cockatoo lineage. The remaining species are in two main clades.

The five large black coloured cockatoos of the genus Calyptorhynchus form one branch. The second and larger branch is formed by the genus Cacatua , comprising 11 species of white-plumaged cockatoos and four monotypic genera that branched off earlier; namely the pink and white Major Mitchell's cockatoo , the pink and grey galah , the mainly grey gang-gang cockatoo and the large black-plumaged palm cockatoo. Cockatoos prefer to eat seeds, tubers , corms , fruit, flowers and insects.

They often feed in large flocks, particularly when ground-feeding. Cockatoos are monogamous and nest in tree hollows. Some cockatoo species have been adversely affected by habitat loss , particularly from a shortage of suitable nesting hollows after large mature trees are cleared; conversely, some species have adapted well to human changes and are considered agricultural pests.

Cockatoos are popular birds in aviculture , but their needs are difficult to meet. The cockatiel is the easiest cockatoo species to maintain and is by far the most frequently kept in captivity. White cockatoos are more commonly found in captivity than black cockatoos. Illegal trade in wild-caught birds contributes to the decline of some cockatoo species in the wild.

The word cockatoo dates from the 17th century and is derived from Dutch kaketoe , which is from Malay kakatua. Seventeenth-century variants include cacato, cockatoon and crockadore, and cokato, cocatore and cocatoo were used in the eighteenth century. In Australian slang or vernacular speech, a person who is assigned to keep watch while others undertake clandestine or illegal activities, particularly gambling, may be referred to as a "cockatoo".

Nymphicus hollandicus. Calyptorhynchus baudinii. Calyptorhynchus latirostris. Calyptorhynchus funereus. Calyptorhynchus banksii. Calyptorhynchus lathami.

Probosciger aterrimus. Callocephalon fimbriatum. Eolophus roseicapilla. Lophochroa leadbeateri. Cacatua moluccensis. Cacatua ophthalmica.

Cacatua sulphurea. Cacatua galerita. Cacatua sanguinea. Cacatua pastinator. Cacatua tenuirostris. Cacatua ducorpsii. Cacatua goffiniana. Cacatua haematuropygia. The cockatoos were first defined as a subfamily Cacatuinae within the parrot family Psittacidae by the English naturalist George Robert Gray in , with Cacatua the first listed and type genus. The American ornithologist James Lee Peters in his Check-list of Birds of the World , Sibley and Monroe in maintained it as a subfamily, while parrot expert Joseph Forshaw classified it as a family in The relationships among various cockatoo genera are largely resolved, [8] [9] [11] [12] [20] [21] although the placement of the cockatiel Nymphicus hollandicus at the base of the cockatoos remains uncertain.

The cockatiel is alternatively placed basal to all other cockatoo species, [8] [20] as the sister taxon to the black cockatoo species of the genus Calyptorhynchus [11] [12] [21] or as the sister taxon to a clade consisting of the white and pink cockatoo genera as well as the palm cockatoo. The genus Cacatua is further subdivided into the subgenera Licmetis , commonly known as corellas , and Cacatua , referred to as white cockatoos. The former group are sexually dichromatic , with the females having prominently barred plumage.

The fossil record of cockatoos is even more limited than that of parrots in general, with only one truly ancient cockatoo fossil known: a species of Cacatua , most probably subgenus Licmetis , found in Early Miocene 16—23 million years ago deposits of Riversleigh , Australia. There are about 44 different birds in the cockatoo family Cacatuidae including recognized subspecies. The current subdivision of this family is as follows: [Note 1]. Subfamily Calyptorhynchinae : The black cockatoos.

Like other parrots, cockatoos have short legs, strong claws, a waddling gait [34] and often use their strong bill as a third limb when climbing through branches. Cockatoos have a large bill, which is kept sharp by rasping the two mandibles together when resting. The bill is complemented by a large muscular tongue which helps manipulate seeds inside the bill so that they can be de-husked before eating. The eye region of the skull is reinforced to support muscles which move the mandibles sideways.

The plumage of the cockatoos is less brightly coloured than that of the other parrots, with species generally being either black, grey or white. Many species have smaller areas of colour on their plumage, often yellow, pink and red, usually on the crest or tail. The plumage of the female cockatiel is duller than the male, but the most marked sexual dimorphism occurs in the gang-gang cockatoo and the two species of black cockatoos in the subgenus Calyptorhynchus , namely the red-tailed and glossy black cockatoos.

The males all have dark brown irises. Cockatoos maintain their plumage with frequent preening throughout the day. They remove dirt and oil and realign feather barbs by nibbling their feathers. They also preen other birds' feathers that are otherwise hard to get at. Cockatoos produce preen-oil from a gland on their lower back and apply it by wiping their plumage with their heads or already oiled feathers.

Powder-down is produced by specialised feathers in the lumbar region and distributed by the preening cockatoo all over the plumage. Moulting is very slow and complex. Black cockatoos appear to replace their flight feathers one at a time, their moult taking two years to complete. This process is much shorter in other species, such as the galah and long-billed corella , which each take around six months to replace all their flight feathers.

The vocalisations of cockatoos are loud and harsh. The use of calls and number of specific calls varies by species; the Carnaby's black cockatoo has as many as 15 types of call, whereas others, such as Major Mitchell's cockatoo, have fewer. Some, like the gang-gang cockatoo, are comparatively quiet but do have softer growling calls when feeding. In addition to vocalisations, palm cockatoos communicate over large distances by drumming on a dead branch with a stick.

Cockatoos have a much more restricted range than the true parrots, occurring naturally only in Malaysia , Australasia , Indonesia and the Philippines. No cockatoo species are found in Borneo , despite their presence on nearby Palawan and Sulawesi or many Pacific islands, [44] although fossil remains have been recorded from New Caledonia.

Three species occur in both New Guinea and Australia. Some cockatoos have been introduced accidentally to areas outside their natural range such as New Zealand, Singapore, and Palau , [46] while two Australian corella species have been introduced to parts of the continent where they are not native.

Cockatoos occupy a wide range of habitats from forests in subalpine regions to mangroves. However, no species is found in all types of habitat. Flocks of birds move across large areas of the inland, locating and feeding on seed and other food sources. Drought may force flocks from more arid areas to move further into farming areas. The red-vented cockatoo inhabits mangroves and its absence from northern Luzon may be related to the lack of mangrove forests there.

Cockatoos are diurnal and require daylight to find their food. All species are generally highly social and roost, forage and travel in colourful and noisy flocks. These vary in size depending on availability of food; in times of plenty, flocks are small and number a hundred birds or less, while in droughts or other times of adversity, they may swell up to contain thousands or even tens of thousands of birds; one record from the Kimberley noted a flock of 32, little corellas.

Species that inhabit open country form larger flocks than those of forested areas. Some species require roosting sites that are located near drinking sites; other species travel great distances between the roosting and feeding sites. Cockatoos are monogamous breeders, with pair bonds that can last many years. Many birds pair up in flocks before they reach sexual maturity and delay breeding for a year at least.

Females breed for the first time anywhere from three to seven years of age and males are often older. Sexual maturity is delayed so birds can develop the skills for raising and parenting young, which is prolonged compared with other birds; the young of some species remain with their parents for up to a year. Established pairs do engage in preening each other , but all forms of courtship drop off after incubation begins, possibly due to the strength of the pair-bond.

Like most parrots, the cockatoos are cavity nesters , nesting in holes in trees, [57] which they are unable to excavate themselves.

The nesting hollows are lined with sticks, wood chips and branches with leaves. The eggs of cockatoos are oval and initially white, as their location makes camouflage unnecessary. Food supply also plays a role in clutch size. In the case of the black cockatoos, the female is provisioned by the male several times a day. The young of all species are born covered in yellowish down, bar the palm cockatoo, whose young are born naked.

The nestling period also varies by species size, with larger species having longer nestling periods. It is also affected by season and environmental factors and by competition with siblings in species with clutch sizes greater than one. Wings and tail feathers are slow to grow initially but more rapid as the primary feathers appear.

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