Keeping up with the cockatoos

Find out why you should think twice before sharing your snacks with these spirited birds

Sulphur-crested cockatoos are highly intelligent and social birds.

You can find them all around our local area, in trees, benches, parks and ponds. They are everywhere.

What do cockatoos eat?

Sulphur-crested cockatoos eat grass seeds, plants, nuts and insects. Cockatoos like to eat together in the mornings and evenings.

When they are not eating, cockatoos bite off smaller branches and leaves from trees.

Did you know? Cockatoos will teach skills to their mates. So if you feed 1 bird, they’ll teach that behaviour to 10 to 20 others!

Can I feed cockatoos?


Cockatoos teach their friends new skills and behaviours. Eating human-provided food can become a learned behaviour and they start to become reliant on people. It may start with one bird, but it can soon become upwards of 10 to 20 birds gathering.

A large group can be quite loud and messy, and may also spread disease between the birds.

Cockatoos also have a habit for gnawing on wood to keep their beaks trim. This habit can damage timber, like your favourite gazebo or balcony table.

What can I do to help cockatoos?

There are 2 ways you can help this fashionista.

  1. Rather than feeding cockatoos, why not install a bird bath in your garden or balcony? This provides them with more clean water to drink and wash.
  2. Get involved in the Australian Backyard Bird Count or Citizen Science projects about cockatoos in our local area.

What do you call a group of cockatoos?

A collective noun is any noun that is used to name a group of something.

The collective noun for cockatoos is a crackle.

Three sulphur crested cockatoos perched on the balcony railing of a residential apartment in Woolloomooloo Bay, Sydney. Photo: Getty

This article is part of a monthly series about our feathered friends. Each month, we’ll share fun facts about birds in our local area and how we can keep them happy and healthy.

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