Curious cockatoos make presence felt

Dunedin Botanic Garden’s sulphur-crested cockatoo ‘‘Sid’’. PHOTO: LINDA ROBERTSON
Dunedin Botanic Garden’s sulphur-crested cockatoo ‘‘Sid’’. PHOTO: LINDA ROBERTSON
Sulphur-crested cockatoos have a distinctive raucous call which can be very loud. These birds are naturally curious and are very intelligent.

They have adapted very well in urban settlements around Australia, and they are also found in small wild flocks here in New Zealand.

Being intelligent members of the parrot family, they learn quickly and can easily open rubbish bins to find food, a trait, along with others, which is quickly picked up through imitation.

These birds are very long-lived, living upwards of 70 years in captivity. However in the wild it’s much less, generally 20 to 40 years.

Interestingly these birds produce a very fine powder to waterproof themselves instead of oil as many other birds do, and after handling them your hands are left covered in this white powder which is a bit like chalk dust.

At the Dunedin Botanic Garden aviary, our star resident is ‘‘Sid’’, the cocky cockatoo who has been here since the 1980s.

Sid talks and interacts well with everyone who visits him. Many hope to hear him ask if they would like a cup of tea, and when in the mood he might even dance.

Sid prefers the company of people to other birds and despite efforts to pair him with Fonzie, another sulphur-crested cockatoo, he would rather be on his own for now.

Sulphur-crested cockatoos can be challenging pets and they need lots of socialisation, enrichment, and stimulation to prevent unwanted behaviours in the home.

• Garden Life is produced by Dunedin Botanic Garden. For further information contact Alisha Sherriff.

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