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Little Corella

A pair of Little Corellas perched in a box tree
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Scientific Name: Cacatua sanguinea

Size: 35 to 39 cm

What does it look like?

The Little Corella is mostly white, often tinged with pink. They have a fleshy blue eye-ring and a pale rose-pink patch between the eye and bill. In flight, a bright sulphur-yellow wash can be seen on the underwing and undertail. Both sexes are similar in plumage, and young birds look like the adults. 

In Australia there are two other species of Corella. Both are similar in plumage to the Little Corella, but are larger. The Long-billed Corella, C. tenuirostris, measures 38 to 41 cm. It also differs by having an orange-scarlet band across the throat, and the upper part of the bill being longer than the lower part. The Western Corella, C. pastinator, measures 38 to 42 cm. It too has a longer upper bill (slightly smaller than that of the Long-billed Corella), but also has a large white crest.

One other large white species of cockatoo in Australia is the Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, C. galerita. This species is larger than the Corellas, measuring 45 to 50 cm. It can also be distinguished by its sulphur-yellow crest.

Where is it found?

Little Corellas are widespread throughout Australia, although large gaps separate some populations. Their range is expanding due to land clearing and increased sources of water. Numbers in the east of Australia have also been helped by escaped or deliberately released cage birds. 

The Little Corella is the most widely distributed of the 3 species found in Australia. The Western Corella is confined the extreme south-west of Western Australia, and the Long-billed Corella is found in the south-east.

What are its habitats & habits?

Little Corellas often form large flocks, especially along watercourses and where seeding grasses are found. Little Corellas feed in large noisy flocks. The birds feed mainly on the ground, and have to drink on a daily basis. The most common foods are grains and grass seeds, and the increase in agricultural crops has increased the birds’ numbers in these areas. Some bulbs and fruits may also be eaten.

Where and when does it breed?

The Little Corella may breed at any time of the year when conditions are suitable. Birds are thought to pair for life and will start breeding at the start of a long period of rain. The nest site is a suitable tree hollow, lined with shavings of wood. This is normally used for several years in row. Both sexes incubate the 2 to 4 eggs and both care for the young chicks. The eggs hatch after about 25 days, and the chicks are born naked and totally dependent on their parents.

Breeding pairs nest in large colonies, and several nests may be found in the same tree. Where their ranges overlap, different Corella species may nest together, but they are not thought to breed with each other.

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Front cover of Australia's Birdwatching Megaspots book showing a picture of an Eastern Spinebill

This species features in my book Australia’s Birdwatching Megaspots

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