Re: Sulphur-crested Cockatoo at the court of Elizabeth I

Subject: Re: Sulphur-crested Cockatoo at the court of Elizabeth I
From: Ronald Orenstein <>
Date: Mon, 08 Dec 1997 10:34:24 -0500
At 01:40 PM 08/12/1997 +1100, you wrote:
>A survey of Tudor portarits including parrots would be needed to answer this
>one definitely, but I don't see why a genuine Sulphur-crested couldn't have
>been taken as a chick in northern Australia by Indonesian traders and
>brought back to Java, say, and then been sold to European traders, and
>thence to Europe and the court of Glenda Jackson. They are very long-lived,
>after all.

According to "Parrots: A Natural History" by John Sparks and Tony Soper,
which includes a chapter called "Discovering Parrots", Marco Polo
apparently saw cockatoos of some sort in southern Asia, and some form of
greater or lesser sulphur-crest was given to the Emperor Frederick II of
Hohenstaufen (1194-1250), probably via China.  Indonesian cockatoo species
were reported by Italian travellers - the Molluccan in particular - in the
fifteenth century, and Andrea Mantegna included a white cockatoo in a
painting he made in 1496.  Antonio Pigafetta, a survivor of Magellan's trip
around the world (1519-21), reported cockatoos from the Molluccas, and
Gesner included a woodcut of a cockatoo in his Historia Animalium (1555).

Of course none of these birds would have come from Australia, but note that
the Australian species of sulphur-crest also occurs in New Guinea.
However, Mercator in 1569 designated a region of the southern Indian Ocean
as "Psitacorum Regio" (region of parrots), found by India-bound mariners
driven off course; this may refer to Australia.  The first substantiated
record of an Australian parrot dates from 1606, when Don Diego del Prado y
Tovar noted during a stopover in New Guinea "numbers of parrots, some very
white with a crest of yellow feathers and the beak and feet black."  These
can only have been greater sulphur-crests.  of course Elizabeth I was two
years' dead by then.....
Ronald I. Orenstein                           Phone: (905) 820-7886
International Wildlife Coalition              Fax/Modem: (905) 569-0116
1825 Shady Creek Court                 
Mississauga, Ontario, Canada L5L 3W2          

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