When you’re visiting Komodo, make sure you’re not so busy looking for dragons that you miss out on observing some of the beautiful birdlife.
A notable white-feathered resident of Komodo Island is the yellow-crested cockatoo (cacatua sulphurea) also known as the lesser sulphur-crested cockatoo and not to be confused with its larger Australian cousin. The parrots’ namesake, Sulphurea Hill, with its spectacular outlook over Loh Liang Bay, is a great place for spotting them, and if you don’t see them you will almost certainly hear them, screeching to each other across the valley while they go about their business of the day, flying between and sitting in the treetops, stripping the leaves and bark. In the early mornings, the cockatoos usually feed on seeds on the ground. Then, as the day warms up, they head to the tree canopies.
Later in the day, they feed again before flying back to their roosting trees for the night. Sadly, these highly intelligent parrots are critically-endangered mainly due to widespread deforestation and illegal trapping for the cage-bird trade – they make great pets. Native to Nusa Tenggara (the Lesser Sunda Islands of Eastern Indonesia), the current population of cacatua sulphurea is estimated at fewer than 1,000 individuals in the wild, and is thought to be declining in number.
Thankfully, the Komodo National Park provides protection of the habitat of a small remnant population of these wonderful birds.
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