MAJOR MITCHELL’S COCKATOO (Cacatua leadbeateri)

Australia has several Cockatoos, but my favourite has to be the Major Mitchell’s Cockatoo (Cacatua leadbeateri).  

It’s not seen as far south as my state of Victoria, but Melbourne Zoo has a very handsome ‘Cockie’, so I’ve been fortunate enough to photograph it several times on my many zoo visits over the years.

It’s found in opens land, scrub, mallee and mulga and mainly in central areas of the country.

The body is a pale pink, with white wings, back and tail.  It’s forehead is more reddish in colour  with an upswept crest.  When the crest is erect, (which I’ve never seen I must admit), it’s banded with yellow and pink.

Major Mitchell’s Cockatoo & male Eclectus Parrot

Major Mitchell’s Cockatoo with female Eclectus Parrot

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COCKATIEL (Nymphicus hollandicus)

The Cockatiel (Nymphicus hollandicus) is a medium-sized grey and white long-tailed parrot and my Australian Bird Guide book describes it as “sadly familiar as a cage bird“, but when one turned up at my younger brother’s farm-house in the country and refused to leave, it became a much-loved family pet.

They advertised locally to see if someone had lost one, but no one answered.

Except when it was returned to its large cage with a covering at night, the Cockatiel was left free to fly all around their enormous lounge/family room all day or rest in its cage or on its perch and seemed to be quite happy with its new home – my SIL just had to keep an eye out for any poop piles.  Luckily, when they built their large open-plan farm-house, they made the ground floor with a concrete highly glazed surface (for ease of cleaning in the event of children bringing in mud or other debris from the fields).

Bird poop does not go hand-in-hand with healthy humans.


The male has a dark-grey body contrasting with a broad white shoulder patch, bright yellow face and throat, with a scarlet cheek patch.  It has a distinctive long yellowish grey crest.

The female is much duller, with little yellow on its head and fainter cheek patches.  This parrot feeds largely on the ground in the wild, is gregarious and often with other parrots.

I took the following photos in Melbourne Zoo’s Great Aviary, but didn’t see these parrots often on my many Zoo visits over the years, so presume it was indoors or hiding among the tree top canopy.

In the wild, it is found on open land, scrub or farmland and is widespread.  Can’t say that I’ve ever seen one in the wild, but I don’t get out in the country these days now I don’t have a car.

The only really close shot in the Great Aviary was from underneath (below).

I’m a little paranoid about photographing a bird from right underneath as back in 1976, when I was living in London, a flat-mate had just stepped out the front door with freshly washed hair and received an enormous dollop of bird poop all over her head.  We never knew what bird has chosen B’s hair as an open-air toilet, but she had to go back indoors and wash her hair all over again (making her late for work that day)………………and I became a little apprehensive about standing under great flocks of birds in the wild.