Why Do Cockatoos Have Crests?

Similar to humans, it makes a fascinating area to highlight why some parrots are so vastly different from another.

Not only from a personality aspect, but in retrospect to their physicality and how this dramatically differentiates their distinct features.

As we all know, there are countless parrot species, with many being such a compelling area to analyze.

Still, it begs the question of why some parrots look the way they do and how they use their physical features.

With this in mind, why do cockatoos have crests?

To answer this question…cockatoos have crests to communicate with one another and as a form of defense. Like we use our mouth to communicate and possibly defend ourselves verbally, this same notion can be applied to a cockatoo and their ability to communicate and defend themselves. Considering every parrot has a way of defending and communicating, a cockatoo uses their crest in that regard.

As odd as it might sound to look at the crest of a cockatoo and guess why they have a particular appearance, their crests are a very distinctive feature.

What is a crest?

In fact, most people can cite a cockatoo’s crest as part of their physical appearance before anything.

For those who don’t know, a cockatoos crest is the part on top of their head that can be raised or lowered depending on what they’re trying to say and do.

Similar to how we do a particular physical aspect for a message to get across, this can be applied to cockatoos as well.

If you’re interested in learning more about cockatoos and their crests, look no further.

Down below, we’re going to discuss if male and female cockatoos have crests, what it means if their crest is raised and lowered, and what they use their crests for.

From there, we’ll discuss plenty of other information related to the subject that’ll be useful to know.

Before you know it, you’ll have an abundance of information to look at that’ll be worthwhile in the long run for you to analyze.

Without further ado, let’s get started!

Do male cockatoos have crests?

Whenever someone wants to take a closer examination at a species like cockatoos, they typically wonder what the main differences are between male and female cockatoos.

As far as crests are concerned, it’s vital to note that male cockatoos certainly have crests.

However, male cockatoos typically don’t have as much color in their crests, meaning their crest tends to be more similar to their actual body color than anything else.

This isn’t to say they don’t have any color in their crest, but it’s something of note that’s worth highlighting.

Like you imagine, male cockatoos use their crest for an abundance of reasons and can be an excellent factor to tell how they’re feeling.

For example, if they’re frequently using their crest, it can be a good sign that something more severe is going on with them.

Similar to humans, there’s a lot of explanations related to why a parrot does something.

Regardless of how obvious it might seem, just about everything in the parrot world can be explained as long as you’re knowledgeable about the subject.

Do female cockatoos have crests?

Besides males, the next area of concern to take a closer examination at is female cockatoos and if they have crests.

Like you can imagine, female cockatoos have crests, but they vary slightly compared to males.

For starters, a females crest is usually more colorful than a male crest.

Although it’s possible for males to have brightly lit yellow infused crests, this tends to be more in favor of females since this such a typical area in this area.

Besides their crests, there are a few other areas you can look at in order to tell the difference between a male and female cockatoo.

Generally speaking, males have black beaks, whereas females have white-horned color beaks.

Other than their beaks, females are slightly smaller, and both sexes tend to look more like females until they reach maturity around four years old.

No matter what cockatoo you’ve adopted, be aware of everything tied to the matter and what it means in the grand picture.

What does it mean when a cockatoos crest is raised or lowered?

Like you can imagine, there’s a lot to make a note of when it comes to a cockatoos crest and what it means when it’s raised or lowered.

For example, if they’re extraordinarily excited or enjoy playing with you, they’ll typically raise their crest with their feathers.

However, in another sense, if they’re trying to defend themselves or feel threatened, they might raise their crests as a sign of defense.

Raising their crest will make them appear larger and will theoretically scare off something that’s threatening them.

On the other end, a cockatoo with a lowered crest can mean they’re tired and sleepy or just want to be left alone.

Similar to when a cat wags its tail, the crest shows a lot of a cockatoo’s actual feelings and what they’re thinking about.

Since it’s impossible to pinpoint what a cockatoo is thinking or trying to say, it’s vital to look at their physical demonstrations to get a better idea in the realm.

Regardless of this, be mindful of everything in the situation and see what they’re trying to say.

Considering raising a cockatoo has so much attached to it other than the simple foundation of feeding and giving them attention, make sure you’re aware of everything attached to the matter moving forward in this regard.

What do cockatoos use their crests for?

Like you can imagine, there’s a lot attached to the subject with what cockatoos use their crests for and why they do it.

Like humans, every part of a cockatoo has a vital function, and their crests are arguably one of the most critical areas.

Although it’s certainly possible for cockatoos to live without a crest, it’d be the equivalent of a human living without their hands.

It’s a complicated area to highlight, but it makes an important one to learn about since there’s so much attached to it.

Nevertheless, down below, let’s take a closer examination at what cockatoos use their crests for.

Getting a more detailed look at this area of concern will allow you to highlight what each of these means and how it can be useful to you. Let’s take a look!


As touched upon, communication is generally the most common reason a cockatoo will use its crest.

If they’re in need of food and are hungry, expect them to try and demonstrate this through their crest.

Although it’s challenging to pinpoint precisely what they’re saying communication-wise, you can take a reasonable assumption.


Like you can imagine, parrots don’t have a lot going on for them defense-wise besides their beak.

As a way to make themselves appear more prominent and try to intimidate whoever they’re against, their crests are a great line of defense.


Like communication, it’s widespread for cockatoos to use their crests as a form of affection toward other parrots.

Since parrots love affection and tend to be social butterflies, it makes sense why cockatoos will turn to their crests to express themselves in this way.


Although there are other explanations why a cockatoo might be using their crest in a certain way, the last significant area to highlight has to do with excitement.

It’s straightforward for cockatoos to be very excited about something, thus, why they turn to their crests to express themselves in this regard.

As you can see, there’s a lot attached to when it comes to why a cockatoo uses their crest in a particular way.

Keep in mind, if none of these examples are applicable to your cockatoo, don’t be afraid to reach out to their vet if you have any questions.

Considering there’s a lot of information regarding this particular area, you might as well take the time necessary to see what they’re trying to convey with their crests.

Plus, their vet will be able to highlight an abundance of other topics we might’ve not covered.

Do all cockatoos use their crest?

As far as cockatoos using their crests are concerned, pretty much every single cockatoo that has a crest will use it to some degree.

Since it typically is a part of their body that works without any true thinking behind it, it makes sense why this is so common across cockatoos.

On the other hand, a cockatoo can have an injury or something wrong with them, preventing them from using their crest.

Think of it like someone who is paralyzed and doesn’t control a particular part of their body.

Either way, be mindful of your cockatoo and how they’re feeling.

If you suspect they’re having issues physically, whether it’s with their crest, make sure you take the time necessary to get them the help they need sooner than later.

Nevertheless, hopefully, you enjoyed everything that was presented in this article and will take a closer examination at what this means moving forward.

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