Handsome large white bird with a yellowish crest which it can raise at will. Some yellow under wings and tail. Yellow marks on cheeks over earhole areas. The bill, eyes and legs are black. About 20” tall.
GEOGRAPHICAL RANGE AND HABITAT:
New Guinea, Aru Islands, Northern and Eastern Australia and Tasmania. Found in forests and savannas. Often forages around farmlands.
Seeds, fruit, nuts, flowers, leaves, insects and larvae.
LIFE CYCLE/SOCIAL STRUCTURE:
A noisy, gregarious bird. During the breeding season, they move in pairs or family groups; the rest of the year, they move in flocks. They feed in the open during the day with sentries posted in trees. At night they return to an habitual roosting site, usually along a watercourse. Nests are built in holes in trees or cliff sides. Clutch size is 2 to 3. Both parents incubate the eggs for 30 days. Young remain in the nest for 6 to 9 weeks. Life span is 80 years.
Flight is a series of rapid, shallow wing beats interspersed with gliding. Feathers are cleaned and kept white by crushing down feathers to powder and distributing it throughout the feathers. Beak is kept in trim by attacking wood.
This is a very noisy bird. Its call can be heard for great distances. The crest is raised as a mating display, in aggression and as a bluff.
Program Animal, not on exhibit.
STATUS IN WILD:
Have become less common, possibly due to the demand for feathers and the pet trade. Although protected in Australia, farmers consider them pests since they eat new grain shoots and damage crops greatly. Some illegal culling is probably done. On Appendix II (threatened) of CITES.