For quite a while now, I've been trying to get a decent photo of our favourite sulphur-crested cockatoo.

It (I don't even know if it's male or female) has a fairly set routine - every morning shortly after sunrise, and every afternoon at about an hour before sunset, it will land on our front balcony for a drink. It lands on the railing, squawks to say hello, hops down onto the water tray, drinks for a while, squawks again to say thanks, then flies away.

You'd think that, with a routine like that, I'd be able to plan a decent shot. The problem is that I can't just sit out on the balcony and wait, and if I were to go charging out there with a camera after it had arrived, I'd scare it off again.

First Attempt


My first attempt happened slightly earlier in the afternoon than usual. The cockatoo landed on the Foxtel cable (as I refuse to get Foxtel, a landing pad for birds and possums is as good a use as is going to be made of it…) and literally hung around for a while.

Unfortunately the shadows from the house were such that I couldn't get a non-shadowed shot without using a flash, which, as I want this bird to come back, is probably not such a good move.


I had no warning when the cockatoo decided to leave, so this snapshot was the best I could do. It could have been great, but I completely botched the framing.

Second Attempt

My second attempt was a week or so later and was a pretty dismal failure, to be honest. I completely failed to sneak out onto the balcony, so there’s a whacking great railing in the road.


I was also still experimenting with different shutter speeds, and I'd thought that perhaps 1/1250th of a second might be fast enough. No such luck - the shot here isn't too bad (except for the railing) but the second one I took had far too much blurriness around the wing feathers.

Third Attempt

I think I’m finally starting to get somewhere. I still refuse to go to the extent of setting up a hunting blind on our own balcony – how ridiculous would that look? – but I’m able to move around a bit more now without spooking the cockatoo.


And finally, two shots that I'm actually almost happy with. I just need to be that tiny bit more smooth when it launches off the balcony again - I messed up the framing in the first shot below, and had to use too much zoom in the second. Argh!

Cockatoo Cockatoo

One day...