White Cockatoo Cacatua alba

White Cockatoo
  • EN Endangered
  • Names (18)
  • Monotypic


46 cm; 550 g. White 

cockatoo with underside of wings and tail washed yellow; large backward-sloping white crest 

, which is spread upwards  and sideways to make head  seem very large, but crest feathers  not as long as those of C. moluccensis; pale yellow feather bases; periophthalmic ring whitish to yellowish white; bill grey-black; legs and feet grey; eye black in male, red-brown in female. Juvenile like adult, but eye dark grey.

Systematics History

Closely related to C. moluccensis. Monotypic.


Introduced to Taiwan.


N Moluccas: Halmahera, Ternate, Tidore, Kasiruta, Mandioli and Bacan. Specimens from Bisa and Obi thought to have been escapes.


Flat or gently sloping primary and logged lowland forests  below altitude of 600 m.


Never recorded in large flocks; generally in pairs or small groups.

Diet and Foraging

Mainly arboreal seeds and fruits; birds seen bark-peeling and investigating epiphytes suggest that species may also eat insects.

Sounds and Vocal Behavior

Commonest calls are a nasal monosyllabic or bisyllabic “keh” or “keeh-ah”, and a fast repeated series of much harsher short notes, “kreh-kreh-kreh-kreh…”.


Limited records from the wild suggest breeding starts early in year, with young in Apr–May, but also eggs in May. Nests in hollows in large forest trees. 2–3 eggs; incubation 27–28 days; chick has sparse bright yellow down; aviary-reared young remain in the nest for c. 14 weeks.

Conservation Status


ENDANGERED. CITES II. Previouslly considered Vulnerable. Although species used to be common throughout N Moluccas, numbers now much reduced due to logging of habitat, particularly the tall trees used for nesting in, and also due to trapping.

Population estimates in 1991/92 were of 49,765–212,430 birds, of which 5120–7500 were caught, 937 being exported; legal quota for trappers has been reduced. Currently, both adults and young are taken, and it is considered that this level of exploitation is not sustainable. Research and survey work required.

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