The citron-crested cockatoo (Cacatua sulphurea citrinocristata) is a large bird endemic to the island of Sumba in Indonesia. Actually a subspecies of the lesser sulphur-crested cockatoo, the citron-crested cockatoo can be identified by its bright orange crest and light yellow-orange cheek patch. This strikingly white parrot is considered critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in the wild following years of heavy trade. In the 1970s and 1980s, the cockatoo trade had a devastating effect on the population, with around 1,500 citron-crested cockatoos exported from Sumba annually, and nearly 10,000 cockatoos annually from Indonesia. By 1992, the population of citron-crested cockatoos was estimated at approximately 3,200 individuals.

In 1992, Indonesia enacted a total ban on the trade of citron-crested cockatoos and, in just 10 years, the population showed signs of growth. However, these cockatoos still face an uphill battle to recovery. Despite the ban, illegal trade continues and is difficult to halt entirely. As the citron-crested cockatoo subspecies is found only on a single island, it is particularly sensitive to challenges from habitat loss and weather. Some studies have shown that the population on Sumba still does not produce many chicks per year, which means a long, slow recovery. In the meantime, captive-breeding programs in zoos and by private breeders may provide additional avenues to restore the wild population.

  1. How does the citron-crested cockatoo differ from other lesser sulphur-crested cockatoos?

    • Answer

      The citron-crested cockatoo has a bright orange crest, light yellow-orange cheek spot, and is found only on a single island in Indonesia.

  2. When did Indonesia ban the trade of citron-crested cockatoos?

  3. Why are citron-crested cockatoos more susceptible to dangers such as habitat loss and climate change?

    • Answer

      They are found only on a single island and cannot escape or replenish the population from other sources without human help.

captive-breeding program

plans, research, and work done by an organization, such as a zoo, to control reproduction of rare species in that organization's facilities (not in the wild).


the top of a wave.

critically endangered

level of conservation between "endangered" and "extinct in the wild."


native to a specific geographic space.


good or service traded to another area.


(subsp.) group of organisms within a single species, often distinguished by geographic isolation.