Photographer of wild Cockatoos in Australia

To explore how cockatoo inspires Artists, I chatted with Australian photographer, Buzzystar.

Buzzystar’s photos capture the elegance and quirkiness of Sulphur-crested Cockatoos. Apple took notice of her photos in 2019. One of her photos was featured around the world in the 2019 World Gallery “Shot on IPhone” campaign.

Photographer and wild sulphur-crested Cockatoo in Australia sulphur crested Cockatoo Australia Taaye Cockatoo art 5

Photo by Buzzystar (IG:Buzzystar)


The majority of Buzzystar’s photos are of Sulphur-crested Cockatoos. You can also see the Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo or King parrots. Occasionally, you will see birds like Brown Cuckoo-Dove, Kookaburra, Brush Turkey, and Magpie.


2019 Apple campaign

In 2019, Apple took notice of Buzzystar’s photos and selected one of them to be part of its “Earth Shot on iPhone” campaign. 20 photos taken using iPhone were selected to appear on billboards in 25 countries.

I talked to Buzzystar about why she chose Cockatoo as inspiration. Why did she first start taking pictures of Cockatoos? And what did she find charming about her wild flock in Blue Mountain, Australia?

Photographer and wild sulphur-crested Cockatoo in Australia Sulphr crested Cockatoo australia Taaye Cockatoo art 1 e1653886902211
Photographer and wild sulphur-crested Cockatoo in Australia sulphur crested Cockatoo Australia Taaye Cockatoo art 3

First memory of Cockatoos?

Buzzystar: To be honest I don’t really have a first memory of cockatoos. They have always been around with their raucous cries everywhere in my childhood.

How did you start taking photos of the Cockatoos?

Buzzystar: I moved to the Blue Mountains where my home overlooks the National Park. Many birds were visiting all the time and I just started taking photos because I thought they were so quirky and beautiful. They were also lovely to photograph as their white feathers stand out against the sky, like little clouds.

What is charming you about cockatoos?

Buzzystar: They are often known as the clowns of the sky, they can be very silly but also amazingly beautiful. I find that when I capture them in the moment flying they can appear more graceful and dignified. They are also so loud, they are always bringing attention to themselves! When I get a portrait then their charm really shines through.

On gaining trust from the Cockatoos?

Buzzystar: I spend a lot of time on my deck, they are always in the trees around me, especially the banksias. By nature, they are friendly and inquisitive birds so they are not hard to get close to, although I do keep a respectable relationship with them as they are wild birds.


Photographer and wild sulphur-crested Cockatoo in Australia sulphur crested Cockatoo Australia Taaye Cockatoo art 4

How did you capture such magical photos?

Buzzystar: Lots of patience and taking a lot of photos. Our deck is quite high – tree height – so it makes it easier to capture them in flight. I’ve always been intrigued by the extraordinary shapes that come to light in a photo, which may be impossible to see in the moment with the naked eye.

What about Cockatoo that surprised you?

Buzzystar: Some of them can be really brazen and naughty and will sometimes try to bite my camera. They really love each other when they have a partner, they can also be very cheeky and silly with each other. They do also seem to have distinct personalities. Some are quiet and shy while others are true performers. A couple likes to pull all the clothes from the clothes line. I really enjoy it when they fly down to just hang out with me.

Anything about the Sulphur-Crested Cockatoo in Australia?

Buzzystar: I have come to know a couple of flocks for years now. Sometimes only a few will come each day and sometimes there could be 30 or more! I really love them and consider them my friends, even to the point where I must admit I talk to them quite often.

Cockatoos in Blue Mountain

It is striking how Buzzystar captures the cockatoos in their spontaneity. The individual personality of each bird is clear because of the close relationship that she has developed with each one. Through her photographs, it is easy to imagine ourselves being on Buzzystar’s balcony against the Blue Mountain with the bird candidly before us.

Photographer and wild sulphur-crested Cockatoo in Australia Sulphr crested Cockatoo australia Taaye Cockatoo art 2 e1653873138377

How does it inspire me

Natural Elegance

As stated earlier in my other blog post, Cockatoos are traditionally depicted in art in extremely staged manner. The purpose is to display a projected persona on the bird. What I love about Buzzystar’s photos is the spontaneity and naturalness. It doesn’t portray Cockatoos as a glorified object or an owned pet. Yet she is able to capture the birds with such elegance in their most natural manner and environment.

Positive vs Negative space

Most of us will see the Cockatoos first, since they occupied such large amount of space within the photos. The Cockatoo becomes the “positive shape” and the background becomes secondary. If we see the bird as a pure abstracted form, our eyes can appreciate the lines and curvatures where the positive and negative meet. We can see that the photographer is very intentional with the outline. Yet her photos maintained the elegance and spontaneity of the subject(the Cockatoos).
Another way to look is to see the Blue Mountain as the main subject and Cockatoo as secondary. This way what is usually perceived as background becomes the positive space. All the the sudden our eyes are more focused on the layers of forests and beautiful skyline behind. The Cockatoos become a comical “cut-out” shape in these serene landscapes. It is somewhat true to the nature of Cockatoos, since they are loud and often bring attention to themselves with their calls.

Photographer and wild sulphur-crested Cockatoo in Australia Blog 6 Cockatoo art Taaye illustration

Inspired by the photos of Buzzystar, I would like to understand further the anatomy of Cockatoo – or birds in general. I think it is important to paint the “bone” rather than the “skin” of an object. Hopefully I get to create more interensting positive and negative shapes.

See other Buzzystar’s photos on her Instagram.

See a feature on Blue Mountain Gazette.

Share “Capturing beautiful photos of Cockatoos in Australia ” on: