Matomo-Image-Tracker Psittaciformes - Lophochroa - Major Mitchell's Cockatoo


Lophochroa - Lophochroa Leadbeateri - Major Mitchell's Cockatoo


With its soft-textured white and salmon-pink plumage and large, bright red and yellow crest, it is often described as the most beautiful of all cockatoos. It is named in honor of Major Sir Thomas Mitchell, who wrote, "Few birds more enliven the monotonous hues of the Australian forest than this beautiful species whose pink-colored wings and flowing crest might have embellished the air of a more voluptuous region."


Major Mitchell females and males are almost identical. The males are usually bigger. The female has a broader yellow stripe on the crest and develop a red eye when mature.

Reproduction and lifespan

The bird reaches sexual maturity around 3–4 years old. In the Mallee region of Victoria where the galah and Major Mitchell's cockatoo can be found to be nesting in the same area, there have been occasions where the two species have interbred and produced hybridized offspring. The oldest recorded pink cockatoo died at 83 years old.

Systematics and Naming

It is possible, though not certain, that the Major Mitchell's cockatoo is more closely related to Cacatua than is the galah, and that its lineage diverged around the time of or shortly after the acquisition of the long crest – probably the former as this crest type is not found in all Cacatua cockatoos and therefore must have been present in an early or incipient stage at the time of the divergence of the Major Mitchell's cockatoo's ancestors. Like the galah, this species has not lost the ability to deposit diluted pigment dyes in its body plumage, although it does not produce melanin coloration anymore, resulting in a lighter bird overall compared to the galah. Indeed, disregarding the crest, Major Mitchell's cockatoo looks almost like a near-leucistic version of that species. Another indication of the early divergence of this species from the "white" cockatoo lineage is the presence of features found otherwise only in corellas, such as its plaintive yodeling cry, as well as others which are unique to Major Mitchell's and the true white cockatoos, for example the large crest and rounded wing shape.

Distribution and Habitat

In contrast to those of the galah, populations of the Major Mitchell's cockatoo have declined rather than increased as a result of man-made changes to the arid interior of Australia. Where galahs readily occupy cleared and part-cleared land, Major Mitchell's cockatoo requires extensive woodlands, particularly favoring conifers, she-oak and eucalyptus. Unlike other cockatoos, Major Mitchell pairs will not nest close to one another, so they cannot tolerate fragmented, partly cleared habitats, and their range is contracting.

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