While I am posting on the topic of travel, I think I’ll share some pictures of wild Greater Sulphur-crested Cockatoos I took while I was in Sydney, Australia. I was only there briefly, and I decided to go to the Botanical Gardens, since I have an interest in botany and in birdwatching, and there are lots of wild birds living there. The most conspicuous animals there are the Greater Sulphur-crested Cockatoos (Cacatua galerita) and the flying foxes (large fruit bats).
Greater Sulphur-crested Cockatoos are not endangered and are quite common in their range in Australia. The subspecies that occurs in Sydney is Cacatua galerita galerita. This type of cockatoo is actually rarely kept as a pet outside of Australia. Most pet C. galerita are of the subspecies that occur in New Guinea and the surrounding islands. These would be C. g. triton and C. g. eleanora. They are a little bit smaller than the Australian Greater Sulphur-crested Cockatoos, and the triton subspecies has a blue eye ring. The eleanora and triton subspecies are often called “Medium Sulphur-crested Cockatoos.”
The Lesser Sulphur-crested Cockatoos (Cacatua sulphurea) occur in southern Indonesia and are critically endangered.
I was in Australia during the austral winter (late June) so the cockatoos weren’t breeding. Some large parrots will still visit their nests during the non-breeding season and I assume that’s what the two birds in the above picture were doing. Many large parrots display strong nest sight fidelity and will use the same nest sight year after year if they can. However, occasionally a nest will be taken over by other animals and a very poor quality nest sight may be abandoned.
The birds in the pictures with dirty-looking feathers are the juveniles, probably from that year’s crop of babies. Wild juvenile Greater Sulphur-crested Cockatoos often have a brown-grey “wash” to their feathers.
The bird in the above photo spent some time chewing on branches. Wild Sulphur-crested Cockatoos can actually be quite destructive and have even been known to chew on people’s houses. As pets, these cockatoos need to have many different items to chew on, particularly non-toxic branches from trees. I give my Lesser Sulphur-crested Cockatoo all sorts of wooden items to chew on and he spends a lot of time reducing them to splinters.
The cockatoos at the botanical gardens were not terribly afraid of people and this guy came right up to me while I was sitting on the ground. He started nibbling on my coat and when I stood up, he started to chew on my boot. My pet Lesser Sulphur-crested Cockatoo likes to chew my boots as well.
Pairs of parrots often preen each other, and this is called allopreening. Pet cockatoos often enjoy having their heads preened by their people. I do this all the time with my cockatoo. I’ll usually remove any dried sheath that’s ready to flake off of any newly sprouted feathers he has. New pin feathers are covered in a sheath as they sprout and this sheath starts to become dry as the feather grows and is ready to break out of the sheath. When preening a bird, I do have to be careful not to preen any new bloodfeathers. A bloodfeather is a new feather that’s growing in that still has a blood supply. These are easy to identify in a cockatoo – the blood supply can easily been seen through the sheath.
That’s all for this post! Next I think I’ll post an article I wrote for “Good Bird” magazine about my trip to New Zealand.
January 2009 News (the second article is about destructive cockatoos).
Here’s my final post about my trip to Brazil, with photos of the reptiles, invertebrates and fish I saw.
For reptiles, I saw several lizard species and two species of caiman. No snakes! I actually like snakes and was hoping to see a yellow anaconda, which occur in the Pantanal region. They are smaller than the green anacondas that occur in the Amazon that are famous for being the world’s heaviest snake species.
Small lizards were everywhere and they tended to be quite skittish since a lot of different animals will prey on them. I had to be very still and quiet to get pictures.
I saw several of the below species running around. The males would court the females by bobbing their heads and inflating a colorful throat pouch. Males would also try to chase each other away.
Yacare caimans are everywhere in the Pantanal. They eat fish and have very poor eyesight so birds aren’t afraid of them. They are not dangerous to people either.
I also saw a few green iguanas and ameivas. The small iguanas and ameivas were very skittish, but they had to come out in the day to bask to raise their body temperatures. The iguanas would also graze during warm parts of the day.
The town Bonito attracts a lot of ecotourists and there are a lot of farms nearby that offer hikes, boat trips, and horseback rides. However, Bonito is most famous for the rivers in the nearby countryside that are very clear and are full of colourful fish. So, snorkeling is a popular activity offered at a lot of farms in the area. I went snorkeling at a place called “Rio de Prata,” and was able to rent an underwater camera in town. It was awesome – the river was very clear and there was a huge variety of fish – everything from schools of fluorescent little tetras to catfish to large Pacus.
Butterflys are quite common. I particularly liked this one, with clear wings:
And that’s it! Obviously, I enjoyed the trip a lot. I actually hope to go back to Brazil someday with my husband. He’d love the Pantanal region and I loved it enough to want to go back. It’s wonderful for people who enjoy bird-watching and seeing wildlife since animals are everywhere. I’d also like to see more of the country including the Amazon and the Atlantic rainforest.
Today’s post is not at all parrot-related, but I wanted to show some photos of the various wild mammals I saw in Brazil. I managed to see marmosets, capuchin monkies, howler monkies, capybaras, agoutis, three different deer species, white-collared peccaries, ring-tailed coatimundis, giant anteaters, a crab-eating fox and a giant river otter.
First off: the rodents! I saw quite a few capybara, which are the world’s largest rodents. They are fairly common in the Pantanal region, and there’s a large herd of them at the Parque das Nacoes Indigenas in Campo Grande. They’re semi-aquatic so are often found near water and during the hottest part of the day they often stay partly submerged to keep cool. They are herbivores and spend a lot of time grazing on grass and aquatic plants. They do most of their grazing in the morning, late afternoon and evening. A group of capybara would gather after dark by the guest rooms at the lodge I stayed at in the Pantanal region. They would graze on the grass with the sheep and goats.
The other large rodent I saw was the agouti, a smaller relative of the capybara. The below picture was taken at the Parque das Nacoes Indigenas in Campo Grande.
And now for the primates! I didn’t get any decent pictures of the howler monkies I saw in the Pantanal, but I did get some of marmosets and a capuchin.
This last set of photos were taken in the Pantanal region.
And that’s it for mammal pictures! The next group will be of reptiles.
Related Posts in this series: