Salmon-crested Cockatoo Cacatua moluccensis


Justification of Red List category
This cockatoo qualifies as Vulnerable because, like its congeners, it is a very popular cagebird and has suffered a rapid population decline as a result of trapping for trade, combined with deforestation in its small range. Moreover, this decline is projected to continue and perhaps accelerate. Should the species be found to be declining at a more rapid rate, it will warrant uplisting to a higher category of threat.

Population justification
Kinnaird et al. (2003) report an estimated population size of 110,385 birds (with a 95% confidence interval of 62,416–195,242) in 1998, whereas Y. E. Persulessy (in litt. 2007) reports an estimated population size of 9,640 birds in 2007. Therefore the species is best placed in a range of 10,000-99,999 individuals, roughly equivalent to 6,700-67,000 mature individuals.

Trend justification
This species is suspected to be declining rapidly owing to on-going and prolific capture for domestic trade.

Distribution and population

Cacatua moluccensis is endemic to Seram, Ambon, Saparua and Haruku in South Maluku, Indonesia. There are no recent records from Saparua and Haruku, and it may only survive at one locality on Ambon, leaving almost the entire population on Seram, where it was once abundant, but has suffered declines, including an estimated 20-40% in one region during the 1990s. It remains locally common in Manusela National Park and, perhaps especially, in east Seram.

There has been little research on the population size of the species, and the studies that are available report very different population densities. A study in 1998 reported a population density of 7.87 (±1.98) birds/km2 (Kinnaird et al. 2003), extrapolating to 110,385 birds (95% CI=62,416–195,242) in 1998, based on 14,026 km2 of suitable habitat available on Seram), whereas a survey in 2006-2007 reported a density of 0.83 birds/km2 (Y. E. Persulessy in litt. 2007), extrapolating to 9,640 birds in 2007 (based on 11,598 km2of suitable habitat available on Seram).


It is largely resident (although perhaps subject to minor local movements) in lowland rainforest up to 1,000 m. Recent studies estimated that it occurs at densities of 8.3±5.3 individuals/km2 in primary and secondary forest, and at 1.9±1.8 individuals/km2 in recently logged forest. Furthermore, highest densities in unlogged forest were encountered below 180 m, clearly illustrating the importance of primary lowland forest. Another recent study found no significant difference between use of a number of land-use types but found that abundance was positively linked to the presence of strangler figs and suitable large nesting trees (Kinnaird et al. 2003). Diet consists of berries, nuts, seeds, coconuts and insects and their larvae.


By the 1980s the species was being extensively and unsustainably trapped for the cage-bird market, with an estimated 74,509 individuals exported from Indonesia between 1981 and 1990, and international imports averaging 9,751 per annum between 1983 and 1988. Although reported international trade fell to zero in the 1990s, trappers have remained highly active and birds are openly sold within Indonesia (Metz and Nursahid 2004). This illegal trade was prolific during religious riots in 2004 (C. Shepherd in litt. 2004), and baseline estimates suggest 4,000 birds are removed from the wild annually in domestic trade. Commercial timber extraction, settlement and hydroelectric projects, pose the other major threats through resultant forest loss and fragmentation. It is predicted that half the current population on Seram may be lost to conversion of forest in the next 25 years (Kinnaird et al. 2003). Most forest has already been lost from Ambon and the coasts and lowlands of Seram. It has also been considered a harmful pest to coconut palms, and, historically at least, it was consequently persecuted.

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
It has been listed on Appendix I and II of CITES since 1989, a measure that effectively curtailed reported trade at the international level. It occurs in Manusela National Park on Seram, although it is not clear what level of protection this affords. Existing protected areas on Seram could support c.9,800 birds, but there is a worrying 30% overlap between these areas and logging concessions (Kinnaird et al. 2003). A programme of local awareness, linked with the promotion of ecotourism, has recently been launched. ProFauna Indonesia carried out an investigation into domestic trade in 2003/2004 (Metz and Nursahid 2004).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Conduct detailed research into its population dynamics, local movements and threats. Monitor trade and promote effective enforcement of regulations to control it. *Quickly resolve apparent overlap of logging concessions with Manusela National Park in favour of the park's integrity. Establish a strict nature reserve in the Wae Fufa valley of north-east Seram, and adjoining catchments. Continue and expand conservation awareness campaigns on Seram, using it as a flagship species to reduce trapping pressure and encourage local support.  Extend captive breeding efforts.


46-52 cm. Large white cockatoo. White, tinged salmon-pink throughout, with long, backward-curving pink crest. Yellow-orange undersides of wings and tail. Grey-black bill, bluish-white, bare eye ring, grey legs. Similar spp. Yellow-crested Cockatoo C. sulphurea and Sulphur-crested Cockatoo C. galerita both have yellow or orange crest feathers. Voice Less raucous than most congeners, but includes similar cackles, screeches, nasal chattering and discordant trumpeting.


Text account compilers
Benstead, P., Bird, J., Davidson, P., Derhé, M., Tobias, J.

Persulessy, Y., Shepherd, C.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Species factsheet: Cacatua moluccensis. Downloaded from on 29/09/2023. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2023) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 29/09/2023.