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Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English
▪ Clouds of little-crested parrots and rose-breasted cockatoos swarmed upon the woods that were dotted here and there over the grasslands.
▪ Even the pair of plumed cockatoos that normally chattered away at each other in their wrought-iron enclosure were asleep on their perches.
▪ On the wall alongside us was a tiled, tropical landscape of pastel cockatoos and parrots.
▪ Some of them had orange- or blue-streaked hair, making them look like cockatoos.
▪ There are seagulls, he says, and terns and storks and cockatoos.
▪ There was the jade-green cockatoo on his orange perch, gazing pensively down the street.
The Collaborative International Dictionary

Cockatoo \Cock`a*too"\ (k[o^]k`[.a]*t[=oo]"), n. [Malayan kakat[=u]a.] (Zo["o]l.) A bird of the Parrot family, of the subfamily Cacatuin[ae], having a short, strong, and much curved beak, and the head ornamented with a crest, which can be raised or depressed at will. There are several genera and many species; as the broad-crested cockatoo ( Plictolophus cristatus or Cacatua cristatus), the sulphur-crested ( Cacatua galerita or Plictolophus galeritus), etc. The palm cockatoo or great black cockatoo of Australia is Probosciger aterrimus (formerly Microglossus aterrimus).

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

1610s, from Dutch kaketoe, from Malay kakatua, possibly echoic, or from kakak "elder brother or sister" + tua "old." Also cockatiel (1880), from Dutch diminutive kaketielje (1850), which is perhaps influenced by Portuguese. Spelling influenced by cock (n.1).


n. 1 A bird of the family Cacatuidae with a curved beak and a zygodactyl foot. 2 (context slang obsolete English) A lookout posted during a two-up game.


n. white or light-colored crested parrot of the Australian region; often kept as cage birds


A cockatoo is a parrot that is any of the 21 species belonging to the bird family Cacatuidae, the only family in the superfamily Cacatuoidea. Along with the Psittacoidea ( true parrots) and the Strigopoidea (large New Zealand parrots), they make up the order Psittaciformes (parrots). The family has a mainly Australasian distribution, ranging from the Philippines and the eastern Indonesian islands of Wallacea to New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and Australia.

Cockatoos are recognisable by the showy crests and curved bills. Their plumage is generally less colourful than that of other parrots, being mainly white, grey or black and often with coloured features in the crest, cheeks or tail. On average they are larger than other parrots; however, the cockatiel, the smallest cockatoo species, is a small bird. The phylogenetic position of the cockatiel remains unresolved, other than that it is one of the earliest offshoots of the cockatoo lineage. The remaining species are in two main clades. The five large black coloured cockatoos of the genus Calyptorhynchus form one branch. The second and larger branch is formed by the genus Cacatua, comprising 11 species of white-plumaged cockatoos and four monotypic genera that branched off earlier; namely the pink and white Major Mitchell's cockatoo, the pink and grey galah, the mainly grey gang-gang cockatoo and the large black-plumaged palm cockatoo.

Cockatoos prefer to eat seeds, tubers, corms, fruit, flowers and insects. They often feed in large flocks, particularly when ground-feeding. Cockatoos are monogamous and nest in tree hollows. Some cockatoo species have been adversely affected by habitat loss, particularly from a shortage of suitable nesting hollows after large mature trees are cleared; conversely, some species have adapted well to human changes and are considered agricultural pests.

Cockatoos are popular birds in aviculture, but their needs are difficult to meet. The cockatiel is the easiest cockatoo species to maintain and is by far the most frequently kept in captivity. White cockatoos are more commonly found in captivity than black cockatoos. Illegal trade in wild-caught birds contributes to the decline of some cockatoo species in the wild.

Cockatoo (disambiguation)

A cockatoo is a parrot from the bird family Cacatuidae.

Cockatoo may refer also too:

  • Cockatoo, Victoria, a town in the Dandenong Ranges, 50 km east of Melbourne, Australia
  • Cockatoo Island (New South Wales) in Sydney Harbour (location of the 2005 Cockatoo Island Festival)
  • Cockatoo Island (Western Australia), an island in the Buccaneer Archipelago off the coast of Western Australia
  • USS Cockatoo, two ships of the United States Navy
  • Cockatoo railway station, situated on the Puffing Billy Railway, Melbourne
  • Cockatoos, a 1954 novel by Australian author Miles Franklin

Usage examples of "cockatoo".

Cockatoos sprung from the brush, beat against the transparent wall where snow lay outside the bottom panes, then settled in the bloodflowers, knocking petals to the sand.

Breakfast was punctuated by the shrieks and cries of howler monkeys, hill mynahs and Moluccan cockatoos.

Thus the natives do not distinguish the Wollunqua from the rest of their actually existing totems, as we do: they have never beheld him with their bodily eyes, yet to them he is just as real as the kangaroos which they see hopping along the sands, as the flies which buzz about their heads in the sunshine, or as the cockatoos which flap screaming past in the thickets.

I will therefore only say that a totem is commonly a class of natural objects, usually a species of animals or plants, with which a savage identifies himself in a curious way, imagining that he himself and his kinsfolk are for all practical purposes kangaroos or emus, rats or bats, hawks or cockatoos, yams or grass-seed, and so on, according to the particular class of natural objects which he claims as his totem.

Struck with bewilderment, the honey-eaters became dumb, the dismayed doves forgot to coo, the scrub-fowl ceased their chuckling, and three cockatoos flew from the blue-fruited quandong-tree shrieking abominable sarcasms.

No cultured relative was present to teach the notes of its kind, so that in default it learned the complete vocabulary of the domestic poultry, besides the more familiar calls and exclamations of its mistress, the varied barks of two dogs, the shrieks of many cockatoos, the gabble of scrub fowls.

When the osprey comes skirting the hollows of the hills for cockatoos, its hunger will be unsatisfied until, by elaborate and disdainful manoeuvres, the cockatoos are induced to take flight.

The sea eagles and cockatoos discarded the tree forthwith, and the starlings in a couple of years.

A few cockatoos lived in the tops of the trees, but at such a height they could scarcely be distinguished, and their noisy chatter was changed into an imperceptible murmur.

Boitelle would pause, with wondering eyes, wide-open mouth, laughing and enraptured, showing his teeth to the captive cockatoos, who kept nodding their white or yellow topknots toward the glaring red of his breeches and the copper buckle of his belt.

Black, white, or gray cockatoos, paroquets, with plumage of all colors, kingfishers of a sparkling green and crowned with red, blue lories, and various other birds appeared on all sides, as through a prism, fluttering about and producing a deafening clamor.

The scrub fowl babbled and chuckled, cockatoos jeered from the topmost branches of giant milkwood trees and nodded with yellow crests grave approval of the deeds of the besieged.

I mean, one expects snow-leopards and cockatoos and tsessebes to buy the farm eventually.

There were a Papuan lory, a sulphur-crested cockatoo, the chiffchaff and kookaburra bird, laughing jackass and motmot, chachalaca, drongo and poor old puffin.

As they dropped down towards Port Jackson the number and variety of parrots, and their discordant noise, increased: cockatoos in flocks, cockateels, lories, and clouds of budgerigars.