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A cockatoo enjoys great amusement due to its high level of intelligence, according to Helen Sullivan.
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A cockatoo enjoys great amusement due to its high level of intelligence, according to Helen Sullivan.


In Sydney, cockatoos with white feathers and yellow crests engage in playful aerial maneuvers, dipping and rising to avoid power lines, making loud cries, darting through tree openings, and even hanging upside down in a seemingly mocking manner towards bats. These intelligent birds know how to fully enjoy their flight experience.

In a piece of artwork by William Patrick Roberts, a mother and her children are depicted admiring parrots in a shop. The macaws and black cockatoo are seen perched in a regal manner, while a playful cockatoo can be seen on a pole at the bottom of the painting, making direct eye contact with the viewer.

A fellow reader and I exchanged emails regarding cockatoos. She recalled a pair of them on the neighboring house’s roof, taking turns peering down the chimney. She also expressed excitement for an upcoming exposé on the topic.

The cockatoos thoroughly enjoy themselves due to their intelligence. They have learned to rely on humans for food, similar to babies who demand attention with their cries. These particular cockatoos make regular visits to my in-laws’ home in the jungle, arriving at consistent times every day. If their calls for food are not promptly answered with striped sunflower seeds, they resort to chewing on the wooden balcony railing, causing their pale yellow crests to rise and fall in a disapproving manner.

Patrick White vividly portrayed the crests of the cockatoos as flicking open like a multi-bladed pocket knife, and their feathers as white and sunsplashed during sunset. In his eerie short story, the innocent cockatoos appeared to float on the ground, reminiscent of the water that permeates Sydney. White described their flight as a wave rising and breaking against the shores of holm-oak and araucaria in the nearby park.

Cockatoos display more than just dancing; they have created unique movements. One cockatoo, known as Snowball, has mastered 14 different moves, including impressive headbanging, bobbing, swooping, and stamping in rhythm to music by the Backstreet Boys.

They have acquired the skill to unlock large bins with red lids, which are specifically designated for storing food instead of recyclables.

At the popular video platform YouTube, a cockatoo perches on a pregnant woman’s stomach, symbolizing an egg. In a different video, a viewer comments, “They require a lot of care, make loud noises, chew on things, and can become a nuisance to the neighborhood.” In areas with urban avian populations, there will inevitably be individuals who have a passion for birds and regularly provide them with large amounts of bread and seeds.

In areas where individuals are feeding birds, there are often complaints made to the local government by neighboring residents. A common complaint is about the constant screeching noises produced by the birds. However, the council will typically remind complainants that cockatoos are a protected species. Additionally, an editor may choose to include a prominent close-up photo of a stunning cockatoo to accompany the article, showcasing the bird’s beauty and lack of remorse.

If you observe cockatoos eating on the ground, check the trees above them to find one keeping watch. I recently spotted one high up in a dead tree as a storm approached and the sky darkened. Despite the lack of sunlight, the cockatoo still managed to find and capture some, causing its white feathers to radiate. Its crest was raised, eyebrows raised in anticipation and excitement for what was to come, proud to be present and considered the most intelligent of them all.

  • Helen Sullivan is a reporter for The Guardian.

  • Would you like to suggest an animal, insect, or other topic that you believe is suitable for inclusion in this highly esteemed column? Please send an email to [email protected].

Source: theguardian.com