Overview

Brief Summary

The White (or Umbrella) Cockatoo (Cacatua alba) is a large white cockatoo with a fan-shaped erectile crest of broad, blunt-ended feathers. As in other Cacatua species, there is some yellow suffusion on the underwing and undertail. The sexes are very similar in appearance, but the eyes of females have a reddish (rather than dark brown or black) iris (juveniles have dark gray eyes). This species is found only on Halmahera and on a few surrounding islands in the North Moluccas in the Maluku province of Indonesia. White Cockatoos are common in captivity. This is the only large cockatoo with an entirely white crest. When the crest is relaxed, head shape is similar to that of the closely related Salmon-crested (or Moluccan) Cockatoo (C. moluccensis), but the White Cockatoo is sleeker, the color and erected crest shape are different, and the Salmon-crested plumage is suffused with pink.

White Cockatoos occur in lowland and hill forests up to 600 m. The diet consists of seeds, nuts, berries, and other fruits. Although this species seems relatively tolerant of habitat degradation, large trees with cavities are needed for nesting. The 2 to 3 eggs are incubated (by both parents) for around 30 days and young may remain in the nest for two to three months. White Cockatoos spend most of their time in the canopy and can be seen in small pairs or small groups flying above the trees or perched in emergent trees, although they may forage less conspicuously at lower levels. They are often most conspicuous when groups of up to 50 birds may gather before roosting in large trees.

Birds are trapped for the pet trade using decoys to lure them into snares. An estimated 10% of birds intended for export die prior to leaving Indonesia. White Cockatoos are also shot for food.  Because cockatoos are long-lived, the impact of reproductive shortfalls may not be immediately apparent.

(Collar 1997 and references therein; Juniper and Parr 1998 and references therein)

  • Collar, N.J. 1997. White Cockatoo (Cacatua alba). P. 278 in: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., and Sargatal, J., eds. Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 4. Sandgrouse to Cuckoos. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.
  • Juniper, T. and M. Parr. 1998. Parrots: A Guide to Parrots of the World. Yale University Press, New Haven, Connecticut.
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Distribution

Range Description

Cacatua alba is endemic to the islands of Halmahera, Bacan, Ternate, Tidore, Kasiruta and Mandiole in North Maluku, Indonesia. Records from Obi and Bisa are thought to reflect introductions, and an introduced population breeds locally in Taiwan (China). It remains locally common: in 1991-1992, the population was estimated at 42,545-183,129 birds (Lambert 1993), although this may be an underestimate as it was largely based on surveys from Bacan and not Halmahera where the species may have been commoner. Recent observations indicate that rapid declines are on-going, and are predicted to increase in the future (Vetter 2009). CITES data show significant harvest rates for the cage bird trade during the early 1990s.; annual harvests have declined in actual terms and as a proportion of the remaining population in recent years, but illegal trade continues and is likely to have been underestimated (S. Metz in litt. 2013).

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Range

N Moluccas (Bacan, Halmahera, Ternate, Tidore, adj. islands).

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Geographic Range

White cockatoos are found in the North Moluccas of the Maluku province of Indonesia. They occur naturally on the islands of Halmahera, Bacan, Ternate, Kasiruta, Tidore, and Mandioli. White cockatoos have been found on the island of Obi and its satellite Bisa, but they are believed to have been introduced to the area as escaped captive populations.

Biogeographic Regions: australian (Introduced , Native )

Other Geographic Terms: island endemic

  • Juniper, T., M. Parr. 1998. Parrots: A Guide to the Parrots of the World. East Sussex, TN: Pica Press.
  • BirdLife International. 2001. Threatened birds of Asia: the BirdLife International Red Data Book. Cambridge, UK: BirdLife International.
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Physical Description

Morphology

Physical Description

Cacatua alba is a large white bird with blunt-ended feathers. It has yellowish coloration on the underside of its wings and tail. It is often referred to as the "umbrella cockatoo" because of its broad, backward-bending crest. The crest is fan-shaped when erect. The beak and legs are dark grey. Sexual dimorphism occurs in the eye coloration of C. alba. Both sexes have a pale blue eye-ring, but males have a dark brown iris while females have a reddish iris. Females usually have a smaller head and beak than males.

Cacatua alba weighs 500 to 630 g and is 46 cm long, on average. Its wingspan is 25 to 31 cm.

Range mass: 500 to 630 g.

Average length: 46 cm.

Range wingspan: 25 to 31 cm.

Sexual Dimorphism: male larger; sexes colored or patterned differently; ornamentation

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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
It is resident (perhaps making minor nomadic movements) in primary, logged and secondary forest up to 900 m. It also occurs in mangroves, plantations (including coconut) and agricultural land, suggesting that it tolerates some habitat modification. The highest densities occur in primary forest, and it requires large trees for nesting and communal roosting.


Systems
  • Terrestrial
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White cockatoos occupy wooded areas. They are found in forests and open woodland, mangroves, swamps, agricultural areas and are particularly common around the edge of clearings and rivers. They spend most of their time in the tree canopy. It has been suggested that tall secondary vegetation is their preferred habitat. They are found at elevations of 300 to 900 m.

Range elevation: 300 to 900 m.

Average elevation: 500 m.

Habitat Regions: tropical ; terrestrial

Terrestrial Biomes: forest ; rainforest

Wetlands: swamp

Other Habitat Features: agricultural ; riparian

  • Arndt, T., T. Pittman. 2003. "White Cockatoo" (On-line). Lexicon of Parrots.
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Trophic Strategy

Food Habits

In the wild, C. alba mainly feeds on fruits of trees. They are often observed feeding on papaya, durian, langsat and rambutan. However, they have been seen eating crickets (order Orthoptera) and skinks (family Scincidae). They also feed on maize growing in fields, sometimes doing considerable damage.

Animal Foods: reptiles; insects

Plant Foods: seeds, grains, and nuts; fruit

Primary Diet: herbivore (Frugivore )

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Associations

Ecosystem Roles

Cacatua alba helps to disperse seeds and their nests are probably used as habitat for other animals in the non-breeding season.

Ecosystem Impact: disperses seeds; creates habitat

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Predation

We do not have information on predation for this species at this time.

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Known prey organisms

Cacatua alba preys on:
Insecta
Reptilia

This list may not be complete but is based on published studies.
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Life History and Behavior

Behavior

Communication and Perception

Cacatua alba communicates with its mate through a variety of gestures and noises. They also scratch each other during the mating ritual. They have also been observed using pieces of wood to bang on trees and logs to alert other birds that the territory belongs to them.

Communication Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic

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Life Expectancy

Lifespan/Longevity

Cacatua alba can live over 40 years in captivity and 30 years in the wild. People have made claims of cockatoos living up to 100 years, though these claims have not been documented.

Range lifespan

Status: wild:
26.9 (high) years.

Average lifespan

Status: wild:
30 years.

Average lifespan

Status: captivity:
40 years.

Average lifespan

Status: captivity:
26.9 years.

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Lifespan, longevity, and ageing

Maximum longevity: 26.9 years (captivity) Observations: The record longevity in captivity for this species is 26.9 years (Brouwer et al. 2000). There are, however, anecdotal reports of captive animals living over 40 years (http://www.rdb.or.id/), which is plausible, and even over 100 years, which is doubtful.
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Reproduction

Courtship behavior in C. alba is very impressive. It begins with the male showing off his body by ruffling his feathers, spreading his tail feathers, extending his wings, and erecting his crest. He then bounces about. The female avoids him at first, but eventually permits him to come near her. They then scratch each other around the head and tail. This serves to strengthen the bond between the two birds. After some time, the male mounts the female and they mate through the joining of the cloaca. Adults that have previously mated successfully have a much shorter courtship ritual, and the female often approaches the male.

Mates form a close bond with one another and are monogamous, with pair-bonds lasting throughout their lives. They can slip into a deep depression if removed from their partner. In the absence of a mate, white cockatoos in captivity will bond to a caretaker as if that person were its mate.

Mating System: monogamous

The breeding season of C. alba is dependent on the weather. They begin breeding when plant growth has reached its peak (usually between December and March). Pairs leave their group and find a nesting spot in a tree. They generally choose nesting holes in only the largest trees, and nest between 5 to 30 meters above ground. They usually lay two eggs, occasionally three. The male and the female share the responsibility of incubating the eggs until they hatch; incubation usually lasts 30 days. Typically, the parents raise only one of the chicks. If the first chick to hatch is healthy, they care for that one. If it is malformed or unhealthy, they raise the second chick. Chicks are born altricial. They learn to fly at three months of age but are still dependent on the parents for another two to three weeks. White cockatoos reach sexual maturity in six years.

Breeding interval: White Cockatoos breed once yearly.

Breeding season: Breeding occurs when vegetation growth is at its peak, usually between December and March.

Average eggs per season: 2.

Average time to hatching: 30 days.

Average fledging age: 3 months.

Range time to independence: 3.5 to 4 months.

Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female): 5 to 6 years.

Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male): 5 to 6 years.

Key Reproductive Features: seasonal breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); fertilization

Average time to hatching: 30 days.

Average eggs per season: 2.

The male and the female share the responsibility of incubating the eggs. Typically, the parents raise only one of the chicks. If the first chick to hatch is healthy, they care for that one. If it is malformed or unhealthy, they raise the second chick. Cacatua alba chicks are born altrical and are completely dependent upon their parents. Both parents are involved in caring for young, although females play a larger role. Chicks learn to fly at three months of age but are still dependent on the parents for another two to three weeks. Once a chick is able to care for itself, the group of three rejoins the rest of the flock.

Parental Investment: no parental involvement; altricial ; pre-hatching/birth (Protecting: Male, Female); pre-weaning/fledging (Provisioning: Male, Female, Protecting: Male, Female); pre-independence (Provisioning: Male, Female, Protecting: Male, Female)

  • Juniper, T., M. Parr. 1998. Parrots: A Guide to the Parrots of the World. East Sussex, TN: Pica Press.
  • Lantermann, W., S. Lantermann, M. Vriends. 2000. Cockatoos: A Complete Pet Owner's Manual. Hong Kong: Barron's.
  • BirdLife International. 2001. Threatened birds of Asia: the BirdLife International Red Data Book. Cambridge, UK: BirdLife International.
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Cacatua alba

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


No available public DNA sequences.

Download FASTA File
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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Cacatua alba

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 1
Specimens with Barcodes: 1
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
EN
Endangered

Red List Criteria
A3cd

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2013

Assessor/s
BirdLife International

Reviewer/s
Butchart, S.

Contributor/s
Poulsen, M., Trainor, C., Lambert, F., Metz, S. & Iqbal, M.

Justification
This species has undergone a rapid population decline, principally owing to unsustainable levels of exploitation, and declines are predicted to become very rapid in the future based on projected future rates of forest loss along with continued pressure from illegal trade. It has therefore been uplisted to Endangered.


History
  • 2012
    Vulnerable
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There are twenty-six bird species that are entirely restricted to the Northern Maluku Endemic Bird Area. Cacatua alba is one of eight threatened birds in this area. The greatest threat to wild white cockatoos is capture for the pet market. It is estimated that 17% of the world's population was removed annually between 1990 and 1993. The United States is by far the largest consumer of wild caught white cockatoos, with 10,143 imports recorded between 1990 and 1999. Fortunately, so far, the populations have been relatively resistant to such large pressures from the trade market. This is probably due to their considerable capacity to reproduce, their ability to adapt to changes in habitat, and their lack of predators and competitive species.

Cacatua alba is also threatened by deforestation and hunting.

Cacatua alba is listed as vulnerable by the IUCN and was placed on CITES Appendix II in 1981. The Indonesian government began issuing quotas on trapping in 1988 after becoming a part of CITES. However, the quotas were poorly enforced. In 1999, no quota was issued, making any capture illegal. The zero quota will remain in effect until a more reliable system for enforcing quotas is established.

CITES: appendix ii

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: vulnerable

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Population

Population
The global population has been estimated to number c.43,000-183,000 individuals (Lambert 1993).

Population Trend
Decreasing
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Threats

Major Threats
Unsustainable levels of trapping for the cage-bird trade pose the greatest threat. In 1991, an estimated minimum of 6,600 birds (possibly representing a mere quarter of the actual figure) were taken from the wild. Catch quotas for the species were exceeded by up to 18 times in some localities, indicating that trappers were removing in the order of 17% of the population annually. In 2007, the catch quota was 10 pairs, and only for breeding purposes. However, an investigation by ProFauna revealed that at least 200 White Cockatoo were caught from the wild in North Halmahera in 2007, far exceeding the quota (ProFauna in litt. 2008). Illegal trade continues and is probably grossly underestimated, with many birds being smuggled through Sulawesi and ending up in the bird markets of western Indonesia or being transported to the Philippines (S. Metz in litt. 2013). Although forest within parts of its range remains relatively intact, exploitation by logging companies has become intensive, and some areas are have been cleared for agriculture and mining. Vetter (2009) estimated that forest loss within the geographic and elevation range of C. alba was c.20.2% between 1990 and 2003, and projected the loss of c.65.4% of forest in its range over the next three generations. Significant changes in forest cover on Halmahera appear to have driven a concomitant decline in the cockatoo population (F. Lambert in litt. 2012). Habitat and nest-site availability is therefore decreasing, particularly the latter. Furthermore, new logging roads greatly facilitate access for trappers.

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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
Conservation Actions Underway
CITES Appendix II. The North Maluku government has proposed to the Forestry Ministry that the species be classified as a protected species (C. Trainor in litt. 2005). The Indonesian government issues catch quotas and all capture was illegal in 1999. It occurs in two protected areas: Gunung Sibela Strict Nature Reserve on Bacan (although this site is threatened by agricultural encroachment and gold prospecting) and the 167,300 ha Aketajawe-Lolobata National Park on Halmahera, which was declared protected in 2004. A project was set up by Burung (BirdLife) Indonesia in 2007 to set up effective protected area management in the Aketajawe-Lolobata National Park, including monitoring wildlife trade, raising public awareness and support, and providing training for Aketajawe-Lolobata National Park staff and related partners (Waugh 2009). The species is fairly common in captivity (Lambert 1993).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Monitor national and international trade. Conduct research into population dynamics, ranging behaviour and threats, so that appropriate trapping quotas may be devised. Promote more effective enforcement of trapping quotas. Improve patrolling of the routes used for wildlife smuggling from Indonesia. Introduce trapping concessions to increase self-regulation of trade. Initiate a conservation awareness campaign promoting local support for the species and the regulated collection of eggs and young, rather than adults. Develop captive breeding programmes.

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

Cacatua alba can cause considerable damage to corn crops.

Negative Impacts: crop pest

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Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

White cockatoos are commonly sold as pets throughout the world; they can cost $1,500 each. They are also popular among Indonesian tourists.

Positive Impacts: pet trade ; ecotourism

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Wikipedia

White Cockatoo

This article is about the species; for the genus of (mostly) white cockatoos see Cacatua.

The White Cockatoo (Cacatua alba), also known as the Umbrella Cockatoo, is a medium-sized all white cockatoo endemic to tropical rainforest on islands of Indonesia. When surprised, it extends a large and striking head crest, which has a semicircular shape (similar to an umbrella, hence the alternative name). The undersides of the wings and tail have a pale yellow or lemon color which flashes when they fly. It is similar to other species of white cockatoo such as Yellow-Crested Cockatoo, Sulphur-Crested Cockatoo, and Salmon-Crested Cockatoo, all of which have yellow, orange or pink crest feathers instead of white.

Taxonomy[edit]

The White Cockatoo was first described in 1776 by German zoologist Philipp Ludwig Statius Müller. Its species name alba is a feminine form of the Latin adjective albus for "white". It lies in the subgenus Cacatua within the genus Cacatua. The term "white cockatoo" has also been applied as a group term to members of the subgenus Cacatua, the genus Cacatua as well as larger groups including Major Mitchell's Cockatoo and the Galah Cockatoo.

While psittaciform parrots and cockatoos have many common anatomical attributes like zygodactyl feet and hooked bills, the cockatoos and parrots diverged from the ancestral parrots as separate lineages as early as 45 MYA (fossil record) or 66 MYA (molecular analysis) (Wright 2008) during the period when Australia, South America and Antarctica were breaking away from the super-continent Gondwanaland where the ancestral parrots were believed to have evolved.

Though historically they (White Cockatoos as well as related species) have been referred to as "white parrots", taxonomically they are not considered to be true parrots.

Description[edit]

The White Cockatoo is around 46 cm (18 in) long, and weighs about 400 g (14 oz) for small females and up to 800 g (28 oz) for big males. The male White Cockatoo usually has a broader head and a bigger beak than the female. They have brown or black eyes and a dark grey beak. When mature some female White Cockatoos can have reddish/brown irises, while the irises of the adult male are dark brown or black.

The feathers of the White Cockatoo are mostly white. However, both upper and lower surfaces of the inner half of the trailing edge of the large wing feathers are a yellow color. The yellow color on the underside of the wings is most notable because the yellow portion of the upper surface of the feather is covered by the white of the feather immediately medial (nearer to the body) and above. Similarly, areas of larger tail feathers that are covered by other tail feathers – and the innermost covered areas of the larger crest feathers – are yellow. Short white feathers grow from and closely cover the upper legs. The feathers of this species and others create a powder similar to talcum powder that easily transfers to clothing.

In common with other cockatoos and parrots, the White Cockatoo has zygodactyl feet with two toes facing forward and two facing backward, which enable it to grasp objects with one foot while standing on the other, for feeding and manipulation.

Whilst the maximum lifespan of the White Cockatoo is poorly documented; a few zoos report that they live 40–60 years in captivity. Anecdotal reports suggest it can live longer. Lifespan in the wild is unknown, but believed to be as much as ten years less.

Distribution and Habitat[edit]

Cacatua alba is endemic to lowland tropical rainforest on the islands of Halmahera, Bacan, Ternate, Tidore, Kasiruta and Mandioli (Bacan group) in North Maluku, Indonesia. Records from Obi and Bisa (Obi group) are thought to be introductions. It occurs in primary, logged, and secondary forests below 900m. It also occurs in mangroves, plantations including coconut and agricultural land.

Behavior[edit]

Food and Feeding[edit]

In the wild, White Cockatoos feed on berries, seeds, nuts, fruit and roots. When nesting, they include insects and insect larvae.

Breeding[edit]

Like all cockatoos, the White Cockatoo nests in hollows of large trees. Its eggs are white and there are usually two in a clutch. During the incubation period – about 28 days – both the female and male incubate the eggs. The larger chick becomes dominant over the smaller chick and takes more of the food. The chicks leave the nest about 84 days after hatching.[2] and are independent in 15–18 weeks. Juveniles reach sexual maturity in 3–4 years.

Conservation status[edit]

The White Cockatoo is considered Endangered by the IUCN.[1] Its numbers in the wild have declined owing to capture for the cage bird trade and habitat loss.[3] It is listed in appendix II of the CITES list which gives it protection by restricting export and import of wild-caught birds. BirdLife International indicates that catch quotas issued by the Indonesian government were 'exceeded by up to 18 times in some localities' in 1991, with at least 6,600 Umbrella Cockatoos being taken from the wild by trappers - although fewer birds have been taken from the wild in recent years, both in numerical terms and when taken as a proportion of the entire population.[3] RSPCA supported surveys by the Indonesian NGO ProFauna suggest that significant levels of trade in wild-caught White Cockatoos still occur, with 200+ taken from the wild in north Halmahera in 2007.[4] Approximately 40% of the parrots (White Cockatoo, Chattering Lory, Violet-necked Lory and Eclectus Parrot) caught in Halmahera are smuggled to the Philippines, while approximately 60% go to the domestic Indonesian trade, especially via bird markets in Surabaya and Jakarta.[4]

The illegal trade of protected parrots violates Indonesian Act Number 5, 1990 (a wildlife law concerning Natural Resources and the Ecosystems Conservations).[5]

Aviculture[edit]

White Cockatoos are kept as pets because they can be very affectionate, bond closely with people and are valued for their beauty. They are often called "velcro birds" because they like to cuddle with people, especially their owners, or primary care-taker. Anyone not used to cockatoo behavior may find this cuddling behavior odd, as most parrots do not cuddle like the Umbrella cockatoo. Although capable of imitating basic human speech, they are not considered the most able speakers among parrots. They are often used in live animal acts in zoos and amusement parks because they are naturally acrobatic and easily trained, because of their highly social nature and high level of intelligence.

Cockatoos are also noisier than many parrots. They can become very bonded (or dependent) on human companion and this combined with their long life and often misunderstood behaviors can lead to behavior issues.. They have very strong beaks, and umbrellas are capable of breaking walnuts and fingers if very scared. They have a "fight or flight" flock mentality, and general prefer to fly away from danger. In a cage, with no escape path, they can be subjected to stress which often leads to feather picking (as with many pet birds).

Pet White Cockatoos may raise their crests upon training, or when something catches their interest such as a new toy or person.

Health issues with captive birds are common since many people do not provide a proper diet for cockatoos. Seeds provide little nutrition (they are mostly fat) and is considered similar to a person living on junk food. Assorted fresh fruits and veggies and properly created pellets available at many good pet stores is more appropriate. A sick bird naturally will try to hide its health issues. Generally it is considered that in the wild a flock will kick an unhealthy bird out of the flock for fear of attracting predators. An often cited rule of thumb among avian enthusiasts is "if the bird looks sick, it's very very sick, possibly near death". As such qualified avian vet care is required.

Signs of a sick bird can be (but not limited to) runny eyes, sluggish behavior, unusually colored droppings (esp indicating blood in the digestive tract), sleeping more than normal, droopy wings, tail bobbing when sleeping (indicating difficulty in breathing), sleeping on the bottom of the cage (birds naturally want to be high on a perch), sudden change in or unusual behavior, feather plucking, biting themselves, sudden weight loss or gain, and a drop in appetite are a few symptoms of illness.

History[edit]

They were quite popular in China during the Tang Dynasty, a fact which in turn influenced the depictions of Guan Yin with a white parrot. The Fourth Crusade was also sealed between Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II and the Sultan of Babylon in 1229 with a gift of a White Cockatoo.

Gallery[edit]


References[edit]

  1. ^ a b BirdLife International (2013). "Cacatua alba". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013. 
  2. ^ Alderton, David (2003). The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Caged and Aviary Birds. London, England: Hermes House. p. 204. ISBN 1-84309-164-X. 
  3. ^ a b "BirdLife International (2011) Species factsheet: Cacatua alba.". Birdlife International. Retrieved 6 September 2011. 
  4. ^ a b ProFauna Indonesia (2008). Pirated Parrots Retrieved 8 September 2011.
  5. ^ "Indonesia Ministry of Forestry 1990". 

Further reading[edit]

  • Handbook of the Birds of the World – Volume 4 ("Cacatuidae"): Sandgrouse to Cuckoos. del Hoyo J, Elliott A, Sargatal J. Lynx Edicions. ISBN 84-87334-22-9.
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