Cockatoos are species of birds in the subfamily Cacatuinae of the family Psittacidae, which also contains the typical parrots.
Parrots and cockatoos all have powerful, curved bills, short legs, and strong, dexterous feet with two toes pointing forward and two backward. These birds also have specialized feathers known as powder down, which disintegrates into a powder that is used for dressing the feathers during preening. Parrots and cockatoos are colorful, intelligent birds. They mostly eat fruits and seeds.
Cockatoos are relatively simply colored birds, with a crest on the top of the head that can be erected at will. Species in this family mostly occur in Australia, New Guinea, and nearby islands, with species occurring as far north as the Philippines. Cockatoos usually nest in holes in trees. They feed on a wide range of fruits and seeds, as well as flowers, roots, rhizomes, palm shoots, and beetle and moth larvae.
The best-known species is the sulfur-crested cock-atoo (Cacatua galerita ), which occurs widely in eastern Australia and New Guinea. This large bird has a pure-white body, with a yellow-colored crest, and a black beak and feet. The galah (Cacatua roseicapilla ) has a rosy breast and face, and a gray back and wings. This species occurs widely in woodlands, savannas, grasslands, and parks throughout most of Australia. The pink cockatoo (Cacatua leadbeateri ) has white wings, a salmon-colored belly and head, and occurs in woodlands of western and central Australia. The little cor-ella (C. sanguinea ) is a smaller species, with a white body, dark eye-patch, and yellow under the wings. This species occurs widely in Australia and southern New Guinea.
The palm cockatoo (Probosciger aterrimus ) is a large, dark-gray bird, with orange-pink facial skin, and a long and erectile, black crest. This cockatoo occurs in tropical rainforests and eucalyptus woodlands of northeastern Australia and New Guinea. The red-tailed black cockatoo (Calyptorhynchus magnificus ) is a sooty black bird with red streaks on the tail, occurring in woodlands of northern Australia, and in scattered places elsewhere on that continent.
Cockatoos are kept as entertaining, sometimes “talking” pets. The sulfur-crested cockatoo is the species most commonly kept in this way. Some species of cockatoos are hunted as food by aboriginal peoples in Australia and
New Guinea. Most species of cockatoos are endangered, particularly those that are endemic to the Pacific islands.