Family Cockatoos (Cacatuidae)

Critically Endangered

Yellow-crested Cockatoo (Cacatua sulphurea)


French: Cacatoès soufré German: Gelbwangenkakadu Spanish: Cacatúa sulfúrea

Psittacus sulphureus

J. F. Gmelin

, 1788,



Closely related to C. galerita and C. ophthalmica. Race citrinocristata distinctive by virtue of long peachy-orange vs yellow crest (3); reportedly livelier, noisier disposition#R (1); and vs abbotti larger bill (1) but shorter wings (2), vs sulphurea, djampeana and occidentalis longer tail (3), but vs parvula longer tail (2), hence scoring 7 against all taxa except 6 vs parvula#R. Race abbotti strikingly large (except in bill size) (3), with small, pale brownish-yellow ear-covert patch (2). Races djampeana and occidentalis generally regarded as synonyms of nominate race and parvula, respectively, but new evaluation indicates real morphological differences and even possible subspecific division within djampeana#R. Six subspecies recognized.

What do (1) and (2) mean? Learn more about the scoring system.
Subspecies and Distribution
  • C. s. sulphurea (J. F. Gmelin, 1788) – Yellow-crested Cockatoo – Sulawesi and offlying Muna and Butung.
  • C. s. abbotti (Oberholser, 1917) – Masalembu Besar I (Java Sea).
  • C. s. djampeana E. J. O. Hartert, 1897 – Tukangbesi Is (Wangiwangi, Tomea and Binongko) and Tanahjampea Is (Kayuadi, Tanahjampea, Kalao, Kalaotoa and Madu), in Flores Sea.
  • C. s. occidentalis E. J. O. Hartert, 1898 – W & C Lesser Sundas (Lombok, Sumbawa, Komodo, Padar, Rinca, Flores, Pantar and Alor).
  • C. s. parvula (Bonaparte, 1850) – Roti, Semau and Timor (C Lesser Sundas).
  • C. s. citrinocristata (Fraser, 1844) – Citron-crested Cockatoo – Sumba (SW Lesser Sundas).
  • Introduced (not citrinocristata) to Hong Kong and Singapore.

    Descriptive notes

    c. 33 cm; 350 g. White cockatoo with long, forward-curving yellow crest feathers, yellow ear-coverts, and yellow undersurfaces of wings and tail; bill black; feet grey; eye... read more


    Commonest call is a harsh grating note on an even pitch or slightly modulated, “grrreh”. When... read more


    Woodland and cultivation, but not found inside forests; occurs from sea-level up to 500 m on... read more

    Food and feeding

    Feeds mainly in trees, taking seeds, nuts, berries and fruit. Destroys young fruits of Ceiba and Gossampinus, and attacks... read more


    Poorly known; birds in breeding condition in Sept/Oct. Nests in tree-hollow, e.g. in Gossampinus. 2–3 eggs. Other data from... read more


    Tends to roost communally and to feed in groups.

    Status and conservation

    CRITICALLY ENDANGERED. CITES I. Formerly common, but all races have been seriously reduced in numbers due to widespread trapping for the avicultural trade, in combination... read more

    Recommended citation

    Rowley, I., Sharpe, C.J. & Boesman, P. (2019). Yellow-crested Cockatoo (Cacatua sulphurea). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 17 June 2019).