Citron-crested cockatoo

Scientific Name: Cacatua sulphurea citrinocristata
Irish Name: Cocatú ciotrón-círíneach

The Citron crested cockatoo is invariably described as a beautiful, intelligent bird with white plumage (feathers) and a distinctive orange coloured forward-curving crest.

Citron-crested cockatoo

The Citron crested cockatoo is invariably described as a beautiful, intelligent bird with white plumage (feathers) and a distinctive orange coloured forward-curving crest.

General Information

They have orange ear/cheek patches and pale yellow coloured feathers under their wings and tail feathers. Other features include a dark grey beak and a pale blue ring around their eyes. Females have coppered coloured eyes and males have very dark black eyes.

Where do they live? (Natural habitat)

The Citron crested cockatoo is only found on Sumba Island in Indonesia. They live mainly in forests on Sumba but will also move over agricultural land.

How long do they live?

There is very little information about their lifespan in the wild. However, cockatoos are known to be long-lived and some individuals may live between 50-60 years of age in the wild. They are known to live 40+ yrs in human care.

What do they eat?

They eat a variety of seeds, nuts, berries, buds, flowers and fruit. They will also eat food grown on farms e.g. maize. They rely on sight to identify the seed and fruits that they eat.

Closest Related Species/Sister Species

The Citron crested cockatoo (Cacatua sulphurea citrinocristata) is one of four sub-species of the Yellow crested cockatoo (Cacatua sulphur). The other three are (i) C.s. sulpurea; (ii) C.s. parvula; and (iii) C.s. abbotti.

Group Name

They live in large groups called FLOCKS outside the breeding season.

Zoo location

They're next to the Orangutans

Animal Class


Animal Order


Fun Fact

They raise their orange crest when surprised or excited.


Family Life

Outside of the breeding they live in large flocks but form breeding pairs as the breeding season (April-May) approaches.Their courtship displays includes vocalising from the top of a tree, frequent raising and lowering of the crest, mutual feeding. short flights and breaking twigs from their perch. Nests are built in cavities in trees. Both parents help rear the chicks.

Baby Name

Chick or Hatchling

Gestation period

"The eggs are incubated for approx. 28 days by both the male and female. The chicks fledge approx. 75 days
(10-12 weeks) after hatching."

Number of young at birth

Clutch size is 2-3 eggs

Weight at birth

Hatchling weight is 16g

Age at maturity

Breeding capability occurs between 3-4 years of age.

Adult male name


Adult female name

Female or Hen

Size male adult

Average Weight: 350g; Body length is slightly larger in males than in females.

Size female adult

Weight: Similar to males; Body Length: 32-34 cm or 33-40cm from beak to tail feathers.



IUCN status

The Citron crested cockatoo is listed as CRITICALLY ENDANGERED by the IUNC.

Current population estimate

In the Winter 2017 edition of Zoo Matters, the wild population was estimated to be between 500-5,000. The IUCN estimates the population of the species Caatua sulphurea at between 1000-2499 with as few as 563 on Sumba Island in 2012.


The main treats are trapping for the illegal cage-bird trade and habitat loss resulting from deforestation. Citron crested cockatoos depend on forests for food and nesting. Sumba Island has lost 90% of its forest. The Citron crested cockatoo also has a low reproductive output which means it takes longer for the population to recover when conservation measures are put in place.

They sometimes feed on agricultural crops e.g. maize which brings them into comflict with local farmers. In general animals, like the Citron crested cockatoo, whose range is restricted (e.g. living on an island), and/or whose population is small,
face additional threats. e.g. The isolation of the population may lead to inbreeding with a resultant reduction in genetic variation making the population vulnerable to diseas outbreaks and environmental disasters particularly as they cannot escape or replenish the population from other sources without human help.

What is Dublin Zoo doing?

Dublin zoo took over the management of the European Zoo Breeding Programme for this species in 2004.

They manage information in the European Studbook for the Citron crested cockatoo. In 2011, Dublin Zoo provided funding for research in Sumba to establish why breeding output was so low among the population of Citron crested cockatoos on Sumba Island. The research was carried out by a German conservation organisation - ZGAP (Zoologische Gesellschaft für Arten- und Populationsschutz).