The classification of the cockatoos.

1. The classification

The cockatoos belong to to order of the Psittacidae.   Together with the suborder of the Parrots ,
they form the order of the Parrots, the Psittaformes.
I. True Cockatoos (Cacatuinae)
II. Black Cockatoos (Calyptorhynchinae)
III. Cockatiels (Nymphicinae)

The three main genera are classified by means of the coloring of their plumage. The Calyptorhynchinae are black, the Cacatuinae are white or grey and the Nymphicinae are multicolored.

The main genus Cacatuinae consists of three genera.
I. Cacatuinae
1. White Cockatoos (Cacatua)
2. Gang-gang Cockatoos  (Callocephalon)
3. Galahs (Eolophus)

The main genus  Calyptorhynchinae  consists of two genera.
II. Calyptorhynchinae
1. Black Cockatoos (Calyptorhynchus)
2. Palm Cockatoos (Probosciger)

The main genus Nymphicinae only consists of one genus.
III. Nymphicinae
1. Cockatiels (Nymphicus)

2. The genus Cacatuinae.

The main genus of True Cockatoos, apart from the genus White Cockatoos (Cacatua) this main genus has two non-white genera as well: the Galahs (Eolophus) and the Gang-gang Cockatoos (Callocephalon).
I.1 Cacatua
a. White Cockatoo Cacatua alba
b. Ducorps' Cockatoo Cacatua ducorpsii
c. Sulphur-crested Cockatoo Cacatua galerita galerita
d. Eleonora Cockatoo Cacatua galerita eleonora
e. Mathews' Cockatoo Cacatua galerita fitzroyi
f. Triton Cockatoo Cacatua galerita triton
g. Goffin's Cockatoo Cacatua goffini
h. Red-vented Cockatoo Cacatua haematuropygia
i. Major Mitchell's Cockatoo Cacatua leadbeateri leadbeateri
j. Mathews' Pink Cockatoo Cacatua leadbeateri mollis
k. Salmon-crested Cockatoo Cacatua moluccensis
l. Blue-eyed Cockatoo Cacatua ophthalmica
m. Western Long-billed Corella Cacatua pastinator pastinator
n. Mathews' Western Long-billed Corella Cacatua pastinator butleri
o. Little Corella Cacatua sanguinea sanguinea
p.Sclater's Short-billed Corella Cacatua sanguinea gymnopsis
q. Mathews' Little Corella Cacatua sanguinea normantoni
r. New Guinea Little Corella Cacatua sanguinea transfreta
s. Western Little Corella Cacatua sanguinea westralensis
t. Lesser Sulphur-crested Cockatoo Cacatua sulphurea sulphurea
u. Abbott's Lesser Sulphur-crested Cockatoo Cacatua sulphurea abbotti
v. Citron-crested Cockatoo Cacatua sulphurea citrinocristata
w. Djampea Cockatoo Cacatua sulphurea djampeana
x. Lombok Cockatoo Cacatua sulphurea occidentalis
y. Timor Cockatoo Cacatua sulphurea parvula
z. Eastern Long-billed Corella Cacatue tenuirostris

The Gang-gang Cockatoos.

I.2 Callocephalon 
a. Gang-gang Cockatoo Callocephalon fimbriatum

The Galahs.

I.3 Eolophus
a. Galah Eolophus roseicapillus roseicapillus
b. Western Galah Eolophus roseicapillus assimilis
c. Northern Galah Eolophus roseicapillus kuhli


The plumage of the Galah (Eolophus roseicapillus) is pink and grey with white and whitish-pink

head feathers.   The plumage of the Galah(Eolophus roseicapillus) makes no sexual distinction.
The Galah (Eolophus roseicapillus) is a monotypic genus.
The Gang-Gang Cockatoo ( Callocephalon fimbriatum) has a small curly crest.  The head of the
cock is red and the head of the hen is grey. These genera are not closely related. The plumage of
the (hen) Gang-Gang Cockatoo ( Callocephalon fimbriatum) suggest a relationship white the Black Cockatoos (Calyptorhynchus).  The Gang-Gang Cockatoo ( Callocephalon fimbriatum) is a
monotypic genus: Callocephalon.
The appearance of the Galah(Eolophus roseicapillus)and genetic research made this species a monotypic genus as well: Eolophus. The extended genetic research proved that the Galah
(Eolophus roseicapillus) is more closely related to the Cockatiel (Nymphicus hollandicus) than
the White Cockatoos (Cacatua).
The other genus of the True Cockatoos, de White Cockatoos (Cacatua), are widely spread and have a lot of common resemblance's. Of all White Cockatoos (Cacatua) the Major Mitchell's Cockatoo (Cacatua leadbeateri) has the most distinctive crest of all: the base of the crest to the uttermost point of the crest, red, yellow and red-white colourered banners make this crest to the most beautiful.

Recent genetic research of the Major Mitchell's Cockatoo (Cacatualeadbeateri) rediscovered that this genus is not that closely related to the other White Cockatoos (Cacatua) as was generally accepted. Because of the outcome of this research the Major Mitchell's Cockatoo is now classified as the monotypic genus Lophocroa in stead of the genus Cacatua. His crest is like the crest of the Sulphur-crested Cockatoo (Cacatua galerita) and the Lesser Sulphur- crested Cockatoo (Cacatua sulphurea) point forwards, while the crest of the other White Cockatoos (Cacatua) are pointed backwards.

The biogeographical distribution of the cockatoos native to the Philippines, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea has not been explained yet. There is at least one Corella species and one bigger White Cockatoo species native to Australia that coexists in the some distributional (apart from the fact that all Australian cockatoos coexist with theGalah (Eolophus roseicapillus). Outside Australia, only one species is native to the bigger islands, with the exception of the islands Obi, Taliabu and Buru.

A lot of research has to be done the relationship among these non-Australian cockatoo species. The Salmon-crested Cockatoo (Cacatua moluccensis) and the White Cockatoo(Cacatua alba), both with their crests pointed backwards, inhabit the northern and southern islands of the Mollucas. They are very closely related related. There most closely related species is the Blue-eyed Cockatoo(Cacatua ophthalmica) native to the Bismarck Archipelago.

The beautiful Greater Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, the Triton Cockatoo (Cacatua galerita triton) is native to New Guinea. He is most closed related to the Lesser Sulphur-crested Cockatoo (Cacatua sulphurea) native to the Little Sunda Islands. The only obviously differences between these species are their sizes, the Abbott’s Lesser Sulphur-crested Cockatoo (Cacatua sulphurea abbotti) is almost as big as the the smallest species of the Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, the Eleonora Cockatoo (Cacatua galerita eleonora). Their distribution areas are not close to one another.

The Goffin’s Cockatoo (Cacatua goffini) native to the Tanimbar Islands belongs to the Corella group. Their existence on an island very close the the Australian coast is not uncommon, but it is hard to explain the presence of the Red-vernted Cockatoo (Cacatua haematuropygia) from the Philippines and the Ducorps’ Cockatoo (Cacatua ducorpsii) from the Solomon Islands. They must have crossed the distribution areas of the non-Corella species without interbreeding or staying. Further research is needed to explain this situation.

3.The genus Calyptorhynchinae.

The main genus of the Black Cockatoos consists of the genus Palm Cockatoos (Probosciger) and the genus Black Cockatoos (Calyptorhynchus). The genus Black Cockatoos.
II.1 Calyptorhynchus
a. White-tailed Black Cockatoo Calyptorhynchus baudinii baudinii
b. Carnaby's White-tailed Black Cockatoo Calyptorhynchus baudinii latirostris
c. Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo Calyptorhynchus funereus funereus
d. Tasmanian Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo Calyptorhynchus funereus xanthanothus
e. Glossy Black Cockatoo Calyptorhynchus lathami lathami
f. Queensland Glossy Black Cockatoo Calyptorhynchus lathami erebus
g.  Kangaroo Islands Glossy Black Cockatoo Calyptorhynchus lathami halmaturinus
h. Red-tailed Black Cockatoo Calyptorhynchus magnificus magnificus
i. Gould's Red-tailed Black Cockatoo Calyptorhynchus magnificus macrorhynchus
j. Western Red-tailed Black Cockatoo Calyptorhynchus magnificus naso
k. Matthews'Red-tailed Black Cockatoo Calyptorhynchus magnificus samueli

The genus Palm Cockatoos.

II.2 Probosciger
a. Palm Cockatoo Probosciger aterrimus aterrimus
b. Goliath's Palm Cockatoo Probosciger aterrimus goliath
c. Van Oort's Palm Cockatoo Probosciger aterrimus stenolophus

The Palm Cockatoos (Probosciger) is clearly distinguished from the Black Cockatoos (Calyptorhynchus), as well as the True Cockatoos (Cacatua). The Palm Cockatoo (Probosciger aterrimus) has a beautiful crest and a very powerful bill, his upper bill is huge and very sharp and does remind of a bill of the bigger macaw species. His bare skin area under his eyes are remarkably red, this reminds of the bigger macaws as well. The Black Cockatoos (Calyptorhynchus) however have a more compact bill and their head is fully covered with feathers. Their crest is small or even rudimentary. The Black Cockatoos (Calyptorhynchus) have a bigger resemblance with the True Cockatoos (Cacatua), both have colored feathers on their vent.  Genetic research shows that the Black Cockatoos(Calyptorhynchus) and the True Cockatoos (Cacatua) are more closely related than to the Palm Cockatoos (Probosciger). The most prominent feature that distinguishes the Palm Cockatoo (Probosciger aterrimus) from the other cockatoos is the fact that he used artifacts, that is drumsticks, on the nest during the courtship display.  Both cock and hen do this (they are not sexually dimorphic). The Black Cockatoos (Calyptorhynchus) are sexually dimorphic, by means of their overall coloring , the pattern of tail feathers and the color of the bill. Unlike other cockatoo species, the hen Black Cockatoo breeds alone.

4. The genus Nymphicinae.

This main genus is has one monotypic genus.
III. Nymphicinae
a. Cockatiel Nymphicus hollandicus

The Cockatiel(Nymphicus hollandicus) resembles a broad-tailed parrot, but has strongly evolved but still is a genuine member of the Cockatoos (Cacatuinae). He has an distinguished erected crest and colored yellow ear patches like the Black Cockatoos (Calyptorhynchus) and the True Cockatoos (Cacatua). The Cockatiel lacks, like other cockatoos, the green or blue feathers. Internal morphology shows that the Cockatiel is a Cockatoo (Cacatuinae) as well.  Recent genetic research showed that the Cockatiel is the very close related to the Black Cockatoos (Calyptorhynchus), possibly the Cockatiel needs to be reclassified as a member of the genus Calyptorhynchinae.

5.Reclassification in the future.
There are twenty cockatoo species, partly with an indistinctive classification. The principal example is the Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo (Calyptorhynchus funereus), this species is classified into two
or three separate species. Another problem arises within the taxonomy of the Australian Corella species in two or three species. The non-Australian cockatoos have the same difficulties, the

Abbott’s Lesser Sulphur-crested Cockatoo (Cacatua sulphurea abbotti) from the Masalembo Islands and the Citron-crested Cockatoo(Cacatua sulphurea citrinocristata) native to the Sumba Island. These subspecies possibly have to be regarded as separate species, because of their clear distinguishing features as such. Other taxonomists have pleaded to combine the Lesser Sulphur-crested Cockatoo (Cacatua sulphurea) and the Sulphur-crested Cockatoo (Cacatua galerita) to one genus, the Cacatua sulphurea with one connected distribution area from the Little Sunda Islands to South Australia.


6. Sources and further reading.

'Cockatoos in aviculture' by Rosemary Low; Brandford London; ISBN 0 7137 2322 x
'Australische parkieten en papegaaien en hun mutaties' by J. and G. Prin; Prin Ingre; prive; ISBN 2 909136 04 3
'Cockatoos' by Werner and Susanne Lantermann; Barron's New York; ISBN 0 8120 4159 3
'Cockatoos' by Werner and Susanne Lantermann; Barron's New York; ISBN 0 7641 1037 3
'The handbook of Cockatoos' by A. Decouteau; TFH Publications New Jersey; ISBN 0 86622 798 9
'The proper care of Cockatoos' by Helmut Pinter; TFH Publications New Jersey; ISBN 0 86622 387 8
'Onze Kaketoe' by Helmut Pinter; Thieme Zutphen; ISBN 90 03 90171
'Valkparkieten' by Annette Wolter; Tirion Baarn; ISBN 90 5210 2082
'Cockatoos as a hobby' by John Coborn; TFH New Jersey; ISBN 0 7938 0091 9
'A Guide to White Cockatoos' by Chris Hunt:; Australian Birdkeeper NSW Australia; ISBN 0 9577024 18
'Rosékaketoe' by Herman Kremer; Ornis Noordbergum; ISBN 90 73217 07 05
'Australian Cockatoos' by Stan Sindel and Robert Lynn; Singil Press Austral; ISBN 0 9587727 1 1
'Kakadus - und ihre Welt' by Hans Strunden; Verlag Horst Müller Walsrode Bomlitz; ISBN 3 923269 30 7
'Australische papegaaien en parkieten' by A. Rutgers; LSM Gorssel; ISBN 90 6036 102 4
'Die Tritonkakadu' by Jeanette Sambroni; Papageien Fachzeitschrift Bretten; 6/2001 p.200

About cockatoos and parrots in general:
'Lexicon der Papageien' by Thomas Arndt; Arndt Verlag Bretten; ISBN 3 9805291 0 X
'Papageienkunde' by Werner Lantermann; Parey Buchverlag Berlin; ISBN 3 8263 3174 5
'Parrots of the World' by Joseph Forshaw; TFH New Jersey; ISBN 0 87666 959 3
'Parrots, a complete guide' by Rosemary Low; Merehurst London; ISBN 1 85391 184 4
'Parrots - A Natural History' by John Sparks and Tony Soper; D & C Publishers London; ISBN 0 7153 9159 3
'Parrots' by Annette Wolter; Barron's New York; ISBN 0 8120 4823 7
'Handfeeding and raising baby birds' by Matthew M. Vriends; Barron's New York; ISBN 0 8120 9581 2
'Sexing the Parrot, changing the world with DNA' by Wilson Wall; Cassell London; ISBN 0 304 35221 7
'Het nieuwe papegaaienboek' by Werner Lantermann; Tirion Baarn; ISBN 90 5210 192 2
'Papegaaien' by Natascha Snelder; Welzo Media Productions Warffum; ISBN 90 5821 048 0
'Papegaaien' by Petra Deimer; Tirion Baarn; ISBN90 5121 010 8
'Papegaaien en parkieten' by Thijs Vriends; Zuidboek Produkties Best; ISBN 90 6248 295 3
'Papegaaien, hun leven in vrijheid' by Thomas Arndt; Parkieten Sociëteit Coevorden; ISBN 3 923269 27 7
'Beschermd of niet, uw vogels en de wet' by Herman Kremer; Ornis Noordbergum
'Notfallhilfe für Papageien und Sittiche' by Doris Dühr; Arndt-Verlag Bretten; ISBN 3 9805291 4 2

About the nutritional needs of the cockatoos and other parrots:
'Die Ernährung der Papageien und Sittiche' by Hans-Jürgen Künne; Arndt-Verlag Bretten; ISBN 3 9805291 5 0
'Obst, Gemüse und exotische Früchte für Papageien und Sittiche' by Volker Würth; Arndt-Verlag Bretten; ISBN 3 9805291 9 3

About raising cockatoos and other parrots:
'Guide to a well-behaved parrot' by Mattie Sue Athan;  Barron's New York; ISBN 0 7641 1030 6
'Guide to companion parrot behaviour' by Mattie Sue Athan;  Barron's New York; ISBN 0 7641 0688 0
'The Pet Parrot Book' by Peter J. Snyder;  Barron's New York; ISBN 0 7641 0608 2