The Cockatoos of Singapore

Like most urban cities in the world, we have our share of Cockatoo species flying around our parks, gardens and our estates. They are either introduced, released or escaped pet birds. As we do not have any native cockatoo species their impact will be on our native parrots that share the same food sources and nesting sites. So what are the cockatoos that you see flying around your place, where are they from and how are they doing?

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A. Tanimbar Corrella C. goffiniana 32 cm is the smallest and the most common of the four species. They are the only ones with a pinkish lore. Established in 1980 (Briffet 1984), they are endemic to the Tanimbar Islands in Indonesia and are classified as globally near-threatened by Birdlife International. Large flocks used to congregate around the Changi Jetty area but now are widespread all over the island. Breeding recorded in our wooded parkland and gardens.

Tanimbar Corellas looking for nest holes at Bidadari. 

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B. Yellow-crested Cockatoo C. sulphurea 33-35 cm is only slightly larger than the Tanimbar Corella They are not common and can be separated from the Tanimbar Corella in the field by its larger yellow crest and dark bill. They also have a yellowish cheek. Residents of Sulawesi, Sumba and Lesser Sundas and are considered globally threatened (BL Int). They were introduced into Singapore with recent records at West Coast and Alexander Parks and Changi Point. Surprisingly we do not have any breeding record.

Yellow-crested Cockatoo taken at Faber Hill. Notice the yellow cheeks. Photo: Francis Yap

Sulphur-crested Cockatoo Sulphur-crested Cockato at Dempsey Hill

Sulpur-crested Cockatoos from Sentosa (left) and Dempsey Hill (right)

C. Sulphur-crested Cockoo C. galerita 50 cm is a large noisy cockatoo. More common than the Yellow-crested, they lacked the yellowish cheek but has a blue eyering. They are native to New Guinea and Australia brought over as pet birds. Mainly escapees, there is a fairly large population in Sentosa, Southern Ridges and Loyang. We do not have any breeding records.

D. Salmon-crested Cockatoo C. moluccensis 50 cm was once fairly common but seem to disappeared. Their crest is dark pink from where it gets its name.  Its range includes Moluccan Islands, Seram and Ambon. Like the Sulphur-crested, they are escapees and are found mostly in Sentosa. They are considered as globally threatened (BL Intl). We have yet to have a breeding record here.

While their numbers are threatened and in decline in this native ranges due to poaching, their population in bird parks, private collection and free roaming in our urban spaces are stable enough to ensure their long term survival. Every year in February, the Bird Group conducts a Parrot Count to document the trend of all the parrot species including these cockatoos in Singapore. If you come across roosting sites of our parrots and these cockatoos, please drop us a note but better still help us with the count.

Reference: The Avifauna of Singapore. Lim Kim Seng 2009. A field Guide to the Birds of Thailand and South-East Asia. Craig Robson. Asian Books 2000.

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