White Cockatoo (Cacatua alba) (also known as the Umbrella Cockatoo), It is a white parrot with brown or black eyes and a dark grey beak. When surprised, it extends a large and striking crest, which has a semicircular shape (similar to an umbrella, hence the alternative name). The undersides of the wings and tail have a pale yellow or lemon color which flashes when they fly. The White Cockatoo can live up to, and perhaps beyond, 80 years.
Justification This species has undergone a rapid population decline, principally owing to unsustainable levels of exploitation. This is likely to continue in the near future, unless recently revised trapping quotas are effectively enforced. It therefore qualifies as Vulnerable.
White Cockatoo is medium-sized, approximately 46-cm-long (19 in) long, and weighs about 400 grams for small females and up to 800 grams for big males. The male White Cockatoo usually has a broader head and a bigger beak than the female. During puberty, the female White Cockatoo can begin to develop a more reddish iris than the male. All white with underside of wings and tail washed yellow. Long, backward-curving white crest. Grey-black bill, white bare eye-ring, yellowish-white or slightly bluish, grey legs. Similar spp. Yellow-crested Cockatoo C. sulphurea, Sulphur-crested Cockatoo C. galerita and Salmon-crested Cockatoo C. moluccensis all have yellow, orange or pink crest feathers. Voice Short, loud, nasal high-pitched screech. Sometimes a rapid series of lower-pitched notes in flight.
The feathers of the White Cockatoo are mostly white. However, both upper and lower surfaces of the inner half of the trailing edge of the large wing feathers are a yellow color. The yellow color on the underside of the wings is most notable because the yellow portion of the upper surface of the feather is covered by the white of the feather immediately medial (nearer to the body) and above. Similarly, areas of larger tail feathers that are covered by other tail feathers – and the innermost covered areas of the larger crest feathers – are yellow. Short white feathers grow from and closely cover the upper legs.
White Cockatoo is considered vulnerable by the IUCN. Its numbers in the wild have declined owing to habitat loss and illegal trapping for the cage-bird trade. It is listed in appendix II of the CITES list of protected species which gives it protection by making the export, import and trade of wild-caught birds illegal.
The high market-value of these birds has led to unsustainable levels of harvesting for the pet trade. In 1994 the White Cockatoo was listed as a CITES I endangered species. This species has since been taken off the endangered species list, but is still listed as Vulnerable. Principal threats to this species are the pet trade and loss and degradation of their forest habitat.
In addition to the necessity of law enforcement to stop the illegal parrot trade, ProFauna urges the Indonesian government to raise the status of the white Cockatoo (Cacatua alba), the endemic species of Northern Maluku, to that of an Indonesian protected species.
The smuggling of parrots to the Philippines breaks the CITES (Convention of International on Trade in Endangered Species) agreements ratified by Indonesia in 1978. Most parrots are listed in Appendix II. Parrots in CITES Appendix II are prohibited from international commercial trade unless they are captive bred or permitted by the exporting country. In Indonesia the bird trade is controlled by the catch quota. Parrots in the trade are not captive bred.
The illegal trade of protected parrots violates the Indonesian legislation passed in 1990 (a wildlife law concerning Natural Resources and the Ecosystems Conservations). Accordingly, the perpetrators are liable to a maximum five-year prison term and a maximum 100-million Rupiah fine. Unfortunately, the Indonesian government has not enforced the law because many protected parrots are still being smuggled abroad and sold openly in Surabaya, East Java, Indonesia.
|Population estimate||Population trend||Range estimate (breeding/resident)||Country endemic?|
|43,000 – 183,000||decreasing||20,500 km2||Yes|
Important Bird Areas Click here to view map showing IBAs where species is recorded and triggers any of the IBA criteria.
Ecology: It is resident (perhaps making minor nomadic movements) in primary, logged and secondary forest up to 900 m. It also occurs in mangroves, plantations (including coconut) and agricultural land, suggesting that it tolerates some habitat modification. The highest densities occur in primary forest, and it requires large trees for nesting and communal roosting.
Threats Unsustainable levels of trapping for the cage-bird trade pose the greatest threat. In 1991, an estimated minimum of 6,600 birds (possibly representing a mere quarter of the actual figure) were taken from the wild. Catch quotas for the species were exceeded by up to 18 times in some localities, indicating that trappers were removing in the order of 17% of the population annually. Although forest within its range remains relatively intact, exploitation by logging companies has become intensive, and some areas are have been cleared for agriculture and mining. Habitat and nest-site availability is therefore decreasing, particularly the latter. Furthermore, new logging roads greatly facilitate access for trappers.
Conservation measures underway CITES Appendix II. The North Maluku government has proposed to the Forestry Ministry that the species be classified as a protected species2. The Indonesian government issues catch quotas and all capture was illegal in 1999. It occurs in three protected areas: Gunung Sibela Strict Nature Reserve on Bacan, although this site is threatened by agricultural encroachment and gold prospecting and Aketajawe Nature Reserve and the Lalobata Protected Forest on Halmahera.
Conservation measures proposed Monitor national and international trade. Conduct research into population dynamics, ranging behaviour and threats, so that appropriate trapping quotas may be devised. Promote more effective enforcement of trapping quotas. Introduce trapping concessions to increase self-regulation of trade. Initiate a conservation awareness campaign promoting local support for the species and the regulated collection of eggs and young, rather than adults.
White Cockatoo nests in tree cavities. Its eggs are white and there are usually two in a clutch. During the incubation period – about 28 days – both the female and male incubate the eggs. The larger chick becomes dominant over the smaller chick and takes more of the food. The chicks leave the nest about 84 days after hatching.
- BirdLife International (2004). Cacatua alba. 2006. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN 2006. www.iucnredlist.org. Retrieved on 11 May 2006. Database entry includes justification for why this species is vulnerable