Botanic Gardens Trust, Sydney, Australia

Bird research: Sulphur-crested Cockatoo and Australian White Ibis

Sulphur-crested Cockatoo research with social media

Research is currently under way that involves wing-tagging Sulphur-crested cockatoos (Cacatua galerita) within the Sydney region. The aim is to monitor cockatoo movements, breeding and habitat preferences.

Report your cockatoo sighting

If you see a wing-tagged cockatoo please report the tag number and colour (e.g. 142-green or 011-yellow) and location in one of four ways:

Crowdfunding supporting our research 

In May 2013 we asked the community to support our research. We set out to raise $5000 and with the support of 125 people we raised $8660! Thanks to everyone involved.

The funds are being used to build an Android App and to conduct GPS tracking. The Android App complements the iApp (‘Wingtags’ noted above), both Apps allow members of the community to easily report their sightings of wing-tagged Cockatoos using their smart phones or tablets. The iApp has been hugely successful with 5000 reports over the first 18 months. Reports submitted through the App are automatically entered into our database (bird number, date, time, phone/tablet geolocation, photo, comment). The App also provides you with information including the name of the tagged bird and the ‘Cockystream’, which lists the 25 most recent sightings.

The GPS tracking aims to learn more about the Cockatoos' foraging behaviour. From the resighting data of wing-tagged birds we have learnt a lot about the birds' movements and in particular their foraging movements within urban areas. However, we have recorded few records of the birds using natural areas; for the obvious reason that few people are in these areas to record the birds' presence. With the GPS transmitters we will quantify if the birds use urban areas more frequently than natural areas.   

We would like to thank all of our supporters; the people that donated to our crowdfunding campaign, the people who shared the campaign, the people who follow us on Facebook and Twitter and of course the people who are reporting their sightings of wing-tagged Cockatoos! We would also like to thank the Foundation and Friends of the Botanic Gardens who coordinated the crowdfunding campaign through the Pozible website.

Cockatoo movements

Cockatoo resightings within the Sydney region. Data presented are for 14 cockatoos based on reports received via the iPhone App, for example icon #3 represents tag 003-yellow (Cockamel).

Cockatoo resightings within the Royal Botanic Garden and surrounds for 11 cockatoos based on reports received via the iPhone App. For example icon #3 represents tag 003-yellow (Cockamel).

 For more information listen to interviews about the project



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>> Download cockatoo band reporting information sheet

Photo: Stefanie Veith





Australian White Ibis research needs your help

Research is currently under way that involves banding and wing-tagging Australian white ibis (Threskiornis molucca) within the Sydney region. The aim is to monitor ibis’ movements, breeding and habitat preferences. Colour-banding and numbered wing-tags allow identification of individual ibis; observations have been received from across the Sydney region and as far away as Shepparton (Vic), Coffs Harbour (NSW), Brisbane and Townsville (Qld).

Each ibis is fitted with an individually numbered metal band (e.g. 121-53662). Birds may additionally be fitted with a site-specific colour band or tag (e.g. green or blue band or black tag (see pictures), which allows the banding location of a bird to be easily determined. If an ibis is not wing-tagged it may be banded with two additional colour bands (e.g. pink/pink or yellow/pink) from the eleven colours, this allows easy identification of individual birds without having to read the numbers on the metal band.

Please report all observations of banded white ibis to wherever they are observed (across Sydney, throughout Australia and as far as Papua New Guinea and the Moluccas Islands). The critical information to report is the tag number and colour or the position of the bands and their colours. An easy way to do this is to note each part of the bird’s leg. For example:

  • Left Upper (thigh) - Nothing
  • Left Lower (shin) - Yellow/Pink (top to bottom)
  • Right Upper - Metal
  • Right Lower - Green

Report your ibis sighting

Ibis movements: across the Sydney region and across Australia

Movements of ibis across the Sydney region



Movements of ibis from Sydney to regional locations

Solar-powered Ibis

Ibis just entered the 21st century with GPS solar powered transmitters to track their movements. The adult ibis were originally colour-banded as adults (> 3yrs) in 2007 and 2008. Through monthly surveys over the last seven years we have recorded that ~80% of the study birds show high site loyalty to Hyde Park, the Domain and the Royal Botanic Garden; located within the City of Sydney. But we know very little about the movement behaviour of these birds.

As the transmitters are solar powered they can operate for multiple years, however our plan is to retrieve the transmitters after 1-2 months and redeploy them on additional colour-banded birds. The transmitters will record highly accurate (± 5-15 m) GPS fixes each hour. The location data will be relayed to the research team via satellite ( and through the mobile phone network (; we would like to say a BIG thanks to both of these companies for their generous support! Click here to view blog.

NKMY-ibis-satellite-foraging-Hyde-Pk_Richard-Major Ibis with satellite foraging in Hyde Park, photo: Richard Major

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>> Download ibis band reporting information sheet






Above and below: Australian White Ibis (Threskiornis molucca) with individual colour bands. There are eleven colours (pictured from left to right): red, orange, pink, light blue, blue, pale green, yellow, green, white, black and purple.