Old World Aviaries

Eastern Slender-billed Corellas
Cacatua tenuirostris

by Scott Lewis

Eastern Slender-billed Corellas are often considered the clowns of Australian cockatoos. They 5-day-old Eastern Slender Bill, OWA baby. are also considered to be highly intelligent and potentially good talkers. Slender-billed Corellas come in two species, Western (Cacatua pastinator) and Eastern (Cacatua tenuirostris, 5-day old and 20-day old at left, juveniles at right).Western Slender-bills look more like Little Corellas (Bare-eyed Cockatoos) than do Easterns. Although Easterns are not especially rare cockatoos in Australia compared to, for example, Palm Cockatoos, they are very rare in American aviculture.

Young Eastern Slender-billed Corellas, photo curtesy of Mike Owen

Slender-billed Corellas are characterized by small crests that are hardly visible when not erect and light-colored beaks with the maxilla tapering to a long sharp point. They are predominately white with orange-pink lores, with pink visible at the base of some other feathers, and the underside of tail and flight feathers tinged with pale yellow. The Eastern Corellas show more pink than their western counterparts. The eyes of both are surrounded by bare blue-grey skin.

20-day-old Eastern Slender Bill, OWA baby.Eastern Corellas have a small range in south-eastern South Australia. Western Corellas reached a population low in the 1960s, but had increased to an estimated 6000 birds in 1982. Both species' beaks are thought to be adapted to digging and feeding on the ground.

According to Low (Cockatoos in Aviculture), Eastern Corellas make excellent pets and have a reputation of being the best talkers of Australian cockatoos. Western Corellas make excellent pets “for those … who can cater for a highly intelligent and mischievous bird that cannot be left unattended outside its cage…” According to our friends who have them, they are delightful pets.

Our mature Slender Bills are relatively quiet for relatively large cockatoos. They do not scream, as do some Umbrellas and Moluccans. However, when upset or alarmed, they do roar.

We breed Eastern Slender-billed Corellas. In our limited experience, the babies are wonderful birds. Smart and full of personality.

From owners

Nina Ventura, Adelaide, Australia

I have one of these birds and yes they do make incredibly entertaining and funny pets! I was out weeding the garden today (Spring is in the air down under at the moment) and good old George, my Corella, was right next to me digging away with his incredible beak that doubled as a useful and practical tool for extra tough weeds. He kept moving along staying a few centimetres from my hands, and we were perfectly synchronized.
George helps Nina garden

I have only had him about 6 months (he is approximately 2 years old) but have become very attached to this funny little bird who picks up words so quickly. He is forever calling Penny the dog and demanding she go over to him when he is in his cage. When he is out, unfortunately, he scares her to death. He attacks and flaps his wings at her and pecks and roars in a terribly menacing manner. He also mimics the dogs' bark, which is soooo funny!

It's a constant stream of "Come on Penny, Come here (bark, bark) Come on darling, Hello darling, Good morning darling, Bye darling, Hello George, Come on George get inside" (when entering his cage on his own). He whistles a tune I have taught him and I am currently trying to teach him our home address in case he escapes again. Last time he was so loud and busy chatting, it was easy to follow the trail and get him back. The funniest moments ever though are when he mimics our laughing. That's when we all double up in fits of laughter, including George!

A word of warning though. Their beak is so strong and they are so hard-headed that they could easily send you to hospital for surgery. So always be nice to them and never trust them completely!

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