Major Mitchell's Cockatoo

Major Mitchell's Cockatoo
Major Mitchell's Cockatoo
With crest raised in Queensland, Australia
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Psittaciformes
Family: Cacatuidae
Subfamily: Cacatuinae
Genus: Lophochroa
Species: L. leadbeateri
Binomial name
Lophochroa leadbeateri
(Vigors, 1831)

C. (L.). l. leadbeateri  (Vigors, 1831)
C. (L.). l. mollis  (Mathews, 1912)

Major Mitchell's Cockatoo range (in red)
  • Plyctolophus leadbeateri
    Vigors, 1831
  • Lophochroa leadbeateri

The Major Mitchell's Cockatoo, Lophochroa leadbeateri, also known as Leadbeater's Cockatoo or Pink Cockatoo, is a medium-sized cockatoo restricted to arid and semi-arid inland areas of Australia. It is here placed in its own monotypic genus Lophochroa, though to include it in Cacatua as others do is not wrong as long as the corellas are also included there.[1][2]



Adult perched on a tree in Melbourne Zoo

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

Systematics and naming

It is possibly (though not certainly) a little closer related to Cacatua than the Galah, and 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 pigments 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 (see also "External links" below). 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 the 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.[1]

The scientific name commemorates the British naturalist, Benjamin Leadbeater. In Central Australia south of Alice Springs, the Pitjantjatjara term is kakalyalya.[3]

Distribution and habitat

Unlike the Galah, Major Mitchell's Cockatoo has 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 favouring Callitris, Allocasuarina and Eucalyptus. In contrast to other cockatoos, Major Mitchell pairs will not nest close to one another; in consequence, they cannot tolerate fragmented, partly cleared habitats, and their range is contracting.

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 has been on occasion where the two species have interbred and produced hybridised offspring[4]

Conservation Status


Major Mitchell's Cockatoo are not listed as threatened on the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.


  • Major Mitchell's Cockatoo are listed as threatened on the Victorian Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act (1988).[5] Under this Act, an Action Statement for the recovery and future management of this species has been prepared.[6]
  • On the 2007 advisory list of threatened vertebrate fauna in Victoria, this species is listed as vulnerable.[7]


Cookie, a cockatoo that is 78 years old, housed in Brookfield Zoo

One Major Mitchell's Cockatoo that has become quite famous is "Cookie," a beloved resident of Illinois' Brookfield Zoo near Chicago since it opened in 1934. As of 25 June 2011, Cookie is 78 years old and has retired from actively being displayed. He currently resides in the keeper's office at the Perching Bird House.

Various views and plumages


  1. ^ a b Brown, D.M. & Toft, C.A. (1999): Molecular systematics and biogeography of the cockatoos (Psittaciformes: Cacatuidae).[dead link] Auk 116(1): 141-157.
  2. ^ Les Christidis & Walter E Boles (2008) Systematics and Taxonomy of Australian Birds, CSIRO Publishing
  3. ^ Cliff Goddard (1992). Pitjantjatjara/Yankunytjatjara To English Dictionary (2 ed.). Alice Springs, Northern Territory: Institute for Aboriginal Development. p. 26. ISBN 0-949659-64-9. 
  4. ^ Hurley. V, The State of Australias Birds 2008, Major mitchell's Cockatoo: changing threats, Birds Australia, p. 8 ISSN: 1036-7810
  5. ^ Department of Sustainability and Environment, Victoria
  6. ^ Department of Sustainability and Environment, Victoria
  7. ^ Victorian Department of Sustainability and Environment (2007). Advisory List of Threatened Vertebrate Fauna in Victoria - 2007. East Melbourne, Victoria: Department of Sustainability and Environment. p. 15. ISBN 978-1-74208-039-0. 

External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Major Mitchell`s cockatoo — didysis kakadu statusas T sritis zoologija | vardynas atitikmenys: lot. Cacatua leadbeateri angl. Major Mitchell s cockatoo vok. Inkakakadu, m rus. какаду инка, m pranc. cacatoès de Leadbeater, m ryšiai: platesnis terminas – tikrieji kakadu …   Paukščių pavadinimų žodynas

  • Major Mitchell's cockatoo — noun The cockatoo species Cacatua leadbeateri, having distinctive salmon pink plumage and a bright red and yellow crest …   Wiktionary

  • Major Mitchell — /meɪdʒə ˈmɪtʃəl / (say mayjuh michuhl) noun a cockatoo, Cacatua leadbeateri, with white wings, pink underparts, neck and face, and white crown suffused with salmon pink and forward curving scarlet crest, endemic to arid and semi arid regions of… …   Australian-English dictionary

  • major mitchell — ˌ ̷ ̷ ̷ ̷ˈmichəl noun Usage: usually capitalized both Ms Etymology: after Major Sir Thomas Mitchell died 1855 British explorer in Australia Australia : pink cockatoo * * * Major Mitchell /māˈjər michˈəl/ (Aust) …   Useful english dictionary

  • Major Mitchell — noun Abbreviated name for the Major Mitchells Cockatoo …   Wiktionary

  • Cockatoo — For other uses, see Cockatoo (disambiguation). Cockatoo …   Wikipedia

  • cockatoo — /kok euh tooh , kok euh tooh /, n., pl. cockatoos. 1. any of numerous large, noisy, crested parrots of the genera Cacatua, Callocephalon, Calyptorhynchus, etc., of the Australasian region, having chiefly white plumage tinged with yellow, pink, or …   Universalium

  • Thomas Mitchell (explorer) — Major Sir Thomas Mitchell Portrait of Major Sir Thomas Mitchell (c1830s) Born Thomas Livingstone Mitchell 15 …   Wikipedia

  • Thomas Mitchell — Major Sir Thomas Livingstons Mitchell (June 16, 1792 1855), surveyor and explorer of south eastern Australia, was born at Grangemouth in Stirlingshire, Scotland. He was educated at the University of Edinburgh, but the poverty of his family… …   Wikipedia

  • Cookie (cockatoo) — Cookie Cookie in 2007 Species Major Mitchell s Cockatoo (Lophochroa leadbeateri) Sex Male …   Wikipedia

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