The Citron Cockatoos

The Indonesian Islad of Sumba home of the Citron Cockatoo

Personality Profile

Citrons are very happy, enthusiastic, fun loving, active and delightful Cockatoos. Their one of the smaller species most known for their orange crest. They are considered a Sulphur crested Cockatoo and all the Sulphur crested are unpredictable. Males more than females.

They are kind to new birds and are eager to make friends. In this colony the birds interact with both males and females. They are a very close group. Most of the other Cockatoo species, females will tend to hang out with other females and males with other males. Still, no pairs forming in this enclosure.

Fun Story

One of the males, George, does not like it if I take any of the birds out of the enclosure. He will wait by the door and give me the stink eye. He wants to monitor my movements, in his “family’s” enclosure. When he first arrived, he was feather picked. From the moment he went into that enclosure, he started strutting around for the females. He has so much confidence ……plucked. He walked around proudly, as if to say Hello ladies I know you have never seen a specimen like me, before.  He didn’t make all the verbal calls that other males do, George likes to strut proudly. I was looking for him a few months back and I couldn’t find him…..where would he go? I am looking each male Citron in the eye and I hear him say Hi George. He got his feathers back, so I didn’t recognize him! It seemed like they grew them back overnight. 

Cockatoo Rescue and Sanctuary was established in 1992.


They love toys and the Citron’s are less destructive then most Cockatoos. But, here at the Sanctuary they delight in knocking their perches down. I am dragging the ladder in and out of that colony and they like to hang on my clothes while I’m on that ladder. 

Their favorite toy is the “party hat” (photos above left) which is the salad bowl hung upside down, with beads hanging around. They sit under them in the rain, for shade and mostly for naps. They usually hide their head under the bowl where you can’t see their faces, an endless supply of chuckles for me. The larger Cockatoos, use metal sleds for strength and they love them also.

Normally, the Sulphur crested don’t usually communicate well, between the sub-species however, the Citrons and the Lesser colonies are attached end to end. I did a double wall of wire on the shared end of the enclosure to prevent toe injuries in case they had “issues”.

Turns out, they actually play with each other through the double wall. I see them kicking wood chips in unison and then they laugh at the same time. They also get into meet it or beat it, screaming contests.


See the female in the picture, right. Its a perfect example of the red color eye most mature Cockatoo females share. Compared to the brown/dark eye of the males, shown in the bird to the left of her.  I never liked the term red eye because to me, the female eyes look more like the color of iced tea. Some are a stronger brew color or lighter but, it looks iced tea. The Moluccans cannot be reliably identified by eye color.

The Citron Cockatoo is easier to live with than the larger species of Cockatoos.  Females are quieter than males. And they are not as demanding for attention. They still suffer from obsessive compulsive / captivity issues. One of our females will start breeding posture/ behavior/ panting if you just look at  her. She does not exhibit this behavior with the Citron males in the enclosure.  Clearly, crazy behavior. Also, an example of:  just because they exhibit breeding behavior, doesn’t mean they want or should be “bred”.

The Citrons are one of my favorite Cockatoo species.

The Citrons have a very annoying habit of, quickly lunging /bouncing toward your face. They don’t mean any harm (usually), it’s something they do, to show excitement. After all the years I have been working with Cockatoos, I will still jump on occasion. It depends on which bird I am holding. If its a female, I don’t jump but, the males I am more cautious with.

Photo Above and Below: The Indonesia Tropical Island of Sumba Home of the Citron

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