Cockatoos and parrots


Who, me?

Sulphur Crested Cockatoo

Who doesn’t love a cockatoo? Raucus and entertaining to watch, sulphur crested cockatoos are lovable larrikins of the Australian bush. ‘Who, me?’ he says.
‘Yes.’ I reply. ‘You.’ 



Red tailed black cockatoo

While I was working on this design, three red tailed black cockatoos were carrying on in the tree outside my window, as if they were overseeing the design process. It had been a long time coming, after all. While the design might have taken a while to come together, the name for it came easily, thanks to my chattering company.

The two birds depicted in this design are in fact a real-life pair of characters called Bill and Minnie. For many years they were the resident red tailed black cockatoos at the Territory Wildlife Park. Bill – who was reportedly the unsociable member of the pair – was very  interested in my mother and I when we spent a morning with them observing and drawing, showing off for his visitors with great enthusiasm. Minnie, however, seemed rather put out and viewed us suspiciously from the other side of their enclosure. Both birds have now retired away from prying eyes and live in a private home with their loving vet.

Rosie Cap


One of the most widespread cockatoos, the pink and white galah can be found across most of mainland Australia and also in Tasmania, where it was introduced. They prefer open country but have adapted so well to urbanisation that their numbers are increasing rather than decreasing.

Most cockatoos are known for their big personalities. The galah is no exception, hence the Australian slang use of the bird’s name to describe a fool/clown – eg.  you flamin’ galah! In fact, the name ‘galah’ is a derivation of the word ‘gilaa’, from the Yuwaalaraay and neighbouring Aboriginal languages.

This design also features in desert birds.



Palm cockatoo

Palm cockatoos are Australia’s largest parrot. Their numbers have been dwindling and there are only around 2000-3000 left in the wild, at the tip of Cape York Peninsula in Queensland. The female lays one egg every two years and scientists are at a loss to explain why many of the eggs laid in recent years have not been viable.

Palm cockatoos are the only bird known to make and use a musical instrument. The male bird uses a stick or seed pod to beat out a rhythm against a dead bough or tree to attract females. Different males make different drumming styles and once the display has had the desired effect, he will often strip down the stick to line the nest the pair build.

Lori’s technicolour dreamcoat

Rainbow lorikeet

This is but one variety of these splendid colourful birds.

For a couple of days each year I have the great luxury of being able to lie on my bed and watch a small gathering of rainbow lorikeets feeding in the large ironbark tree outside my window. I always hope they’ll come on a Sunday so I can stay put and watch them hop between the leaves, hanging upside down at times while they work their way around the branches.

This design also features in the rainbow birds.