One of the easiest ways to remember the appearance of a citron cockatoo is in its name: citron, or “citrus,” denotes the color of its orange-colored head plumes.
The Citron Cockatoos’ notable characteristics, aside from its orange-crest and cheek feathers, are its quietness, “mildness” compared to other cockatoos and its rarity and state of being endangered.
Read on this article for fascinating facts about the Citron cockatoo, all compiled in one convenient article, some light-hearted, some solemnly serious.
They’re One of the Smallest Cockatoo Species!
In fact, they are the smallest of the yellow-crested cockatoos (the most famous one probably being the Sulphur-crested Cockatoo). Averaging about 13 inches long at maturity, they can reach to about 15 inches or 50 cm in max length.
They Look Like Johnny Napalm
Here’s an easy way to identify and remember the appearance of Citron cockatoos. There’s over 20 different cockatoo species variants, and each sports their own unique appearance. Now, remember that mohawk-haired rocker from the Guitar Hero 3?
Just remember the orange hair, and you’ll always remember that Citron-crested cockatoos have orange plumes! When the crests of these birds fully raise, they even look like individual spikes from a mohawk!
Their Gender Can Be Determined by Looking at Their Eyelids
The male and female citron cockatoos are nearly identical in appearance, which can make identification a pain for breeders and potential owners alike. However, the only noticeable difference lays on the color of their eyelids.
It has also been reported that regarding eye-color, Male Citron cockatoos have black eyes, and females have brown eyes.
They’ve Got a Slightly Shorter Lifespan Than Other Cockatoos
But it’s still more than most pet owners can ask for! At 40 to 60 years in captivity, compared to some birds who can live even up to 90 years, the Citron Cockatoo’s longevity will be determined by the depth and quality of care and nutrition.
Many die of disease or injury before reaching their long age, and it is the owner’s responsibility to mitigate these risks through their well-researched and informed care.
They Have a Max Limit of 15 Words or Phrases in Their Vocabulary
One can argue that being quiet compared to other cockatoos is one of the coveted features of this particular species of Cockatoo. Females are quieter than the males, and are reported to demand less attention as well.
As small-medium sized parrots, Citron Cockatoos are slightly (note: a tiny bit) less vocal than their other Cockatoo cousins. They can whistle or “chant” like the rest of them but aren’t as skilled at imitating human speech as most parrots. Warning: they can still screech loudly.
Not surprisingly, this means owners, breeders and zookeepers discover that Citron Cockatoos have other means of disposal for communicating with their brethren birds and two-legged humans. Their strutting, flapping wings, raised crests and overall body language can speak volumes!
They’re More “Subdued” Than Other Cockatoos
Everything about the Citron Cockatoo, from its diminished size and volume of squawks to even its temperament can be considered mitigated, or subdued. This can mean a great break for cockatoo or parrot lovers, who may be uncertain about whether they can handle a tuft of ADHD in feather form.
They’re less susceptible to feather-picking, a symptom of stress and anxiety, although they may still do it if pushed drastically to do so out of negligence.
They’re More Skittish Than Other Cockatoos, Too
Citron Cockatoos are also known for being slightly more independent than other cockatoo species, although this does not mean that they can thrive without social interaction and attention from their owners for long.
Rather, this means as an owner you need to familiarize yourself with parrot psychology and take great care not to spoil the bird. This means that as the owner, you must have the power to say “no,” and not get the bird used to too much attention.
This also means that you need to take great care to never chase your bird into doing something you want or where you intend it to go, such as a travel cage. Inducing prey reactions in birds is one of the worst things an owner can do.
They’re Uniquely from Indonesia!
The scientific word is “endemic,” which means a species is uniquely found in a habitat or location. This is quite a special fact, since it’s pretty much universally known that cockatoos originate from the land down under, AKA Australia!
So how did this bird find itself a good few thousand miles north west of the cockatoo home continent? It’s quite possible that migration occurred millenia ago.
More specifically, they’re from the islands of Sumba and Sunda.
May or May Not Be Picky Eaters
In the wild, their diet consists of berries, nuts, and seeds. In addition, some cockatoo owners in online forums have reported that their citron-crested cockatoos are more finicky and picky than other species of cockatoos, however.
They’re Incredibly Expensive
It won’t be a surprise why once you read on the following facts. But if you want a spoiler-free reason: it’s because their population is incredibly low. The adults and babies can cost on average $3000 to $4000 USD!
Read on for more in-depth explanations as to their exorbitant prices.
They are Critically Endangered in the Wild
Now here’s a not-so-cool fact to weigh heavily upon our hearts and minds. Part of the reason may be because their native home island is a habitat that’s very hard to replicate indoors on other climates and continents. Understandably this means that this species requires top quality care, just as most cockatoo specimens do.
In just three decades, their population dropped nearly a staggering 80%, from 2000 to barely 500 as of 2018. Their main threat is the loss of habitat due to environmental damage such as deforestation, as well as logging and illegal trapping.
Their Parents Attack Their Young Once they Mate Again
While this sounds like bad parenting, Citron Cockatoos aren’t the only cockatoos, or animals for that matter which turn on their young during or after the process of mating anew. This does become problematic when you learn that they don’t produce many chicks.
On the contrary, cockatoos are one of the better mates and parents of the animal kingdom, as they practice spousal monogamy and take care of their young for nearly 3 to 4 years, teaching them foods to eat and avoid, before finally letting them go.
For Citron Cockatoos, their eggs take a month to incubate, during which the female takes the night shift and the male incubates it by day. The young take around 90 days to turn into fledglings, and are cared for years after, until it is time to mate again.
There’s Only 100 Citron Cockatoos in Zoos, Worldwide
Globally, as of this writing, there’s around only around a hundred Citron Cockatoos in Zoos.
This number is unlikely to fluctuate soon, as areas specialized for Citron Cockatoos (that can successfully hire informed, knowledgeable cockatoo caretakers) and replicate their tropical habitat are few in number, and can be expensive to upkeep and maintain.
A Ban on Their Trade Helped Their Numbers Grow
Albeit slightly. In 1992, Indonesia enacted a total ban on citron-crested cockatoo trading, and the result saw the slow regrowth of the population (source: Nationalgeographic.com).
However, as National Geographic reports, their regrowth is still “an uphill battle,” to which breeders and researchers in charge of their care may be the savior from their extinction.
It’s Illegal to Catch Them in the Wild
Don’t try it. This may seem like common sense but for those of you with wanderlust, wherewithal and unscrupulous morals, that was your cue to cancel that booked trip to Sumba Island, Indonesia for the express purpose of trying to snag one.
There’s no need, as while they may be rare and hard to find in pet stores (especially in the United States), they are becoming more and more popular with breeders!
Private breeders are having success with the Citron Cockatoo, and their efforts may be paramount to boosting the population count of the species in the wild, soon. If you want to buy one of these birds you should check to see if it comes with a CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) certificate.