Yellow-Crested Cockatoos in Hong Kong and me

Background story about my artwork

Hello! Welcome to my new blog. I am starting this blog as I feel social media is no longer an adequate means of connecting with others. By moving my major activity to this website, it is my hope that I can communicate more effectively with you.

Brief introduction

I am dedicating my first post to the subject that I paint the most in my artwork: cockatoos.​​

I lived in Hong Kong until the age of 15. The metropolis is known for its infinite skyscrapers, yet the city is also home to a wide variety of birds.

“Dandelion under the sun”
50cm x 70cm. Watercolor on paper. Painted in 2021

Cockatoos in Hong Kong history

The yellow-crested cockatoo, a critically endangered species, is one of the species that reside in subtropical Hong Kong. They are native species to Indonesia and East Timor. Urban legend has it that a former colonial governor, Sir Mark Young,  kept pet cockatoos during his time in Hong Kong. The governor released his exotic pets when the Japanese invaded during World War II. The small group became the ancestors of the local population in Hong Kong.

Cockatoos in Hong Kong now

Many years later, one can still find their descendants in the financial district and urban parks in Hong Kong.

In fact, the native populations in Indonesia suffered a massive decline because of human activities. According to an evolutionary ecologist and senior lecturer at the University of Hong Kong, Caroline Dingle, the wild population in Hong Kong is vital to the survival of the species.

To read about the conservation efforts to distinguish wild birds from captive birds from illegal trade by Dr. Astrid Andersson from HKU.


Why do I draw Cockatoos

I had always been a bird lover. Naturally, I was very excited when I found out a pair of wild cockatoos lived in the tree holes at my school.

They were loud and colorful — somewhat of a contrast to my rigid and dreary school environment. The birds flew around and didn’t care what the human had to say or do. They lived, screeched, and swooped across the air like they owned the place.

I was a sensitive and introverted kid. I was not particularly good at building relationships with people. I often found school draining. But, I often looked forwarding to art classes and seeing the cockatoos.

The cockatoos brought me a sense of longing and hope.

Other Inspiration

I discovered Nihonga in 2019, a form of Japanese painting distinct from ukiyoe or Sumie. I was particularly taken with the atmospheric quality of Nihonga.


Yellow-crested cockatoos in Hong Kong, and me Rainy Day IV Taaye Cockatoo Art

“Rainy Day IV”
34.5cm x 53.5cm. Watercolor on paper. Painted in 2022

Asian experience overseas

Like the cockatoos that had emigrated to Hong Kong, I too have relocated and resided in many countries since my departure from the city. As a person who experienced her teenage and early adult years in various countries, I have retained fragmented recollections of each place I lived. Every time I changed my residence, I experienced a feeling of disconnection from life and the individuals in my prior location.

Taaye Cockatoo Art

35cm x 54cm. Watercolor on paper. Painted in 2022

Taaye Cockatoo Art

“Fall I”
35cm x 54cm. Watercolor on paper. Painted in 2022

Cockatoo as Expression

Despite the fact that the cockatoos are recollections from Hong Kong, I avoid incorporating any geographical elements in my work.

The birds are of great significance, yet what is more important is the overall atmosphere. I often view of the cockatoos as a metaphor for my relationship with this world.

If you want to read how cockatoos are depicted by great artists in European Art hisotry, read this blog post.


Message in my work

The cockatoos stories and my own share a great deal in common. As outsiders, we both sought to fit in and find the silver lining amidst the dark clouds. I hope that my work has been able to evoke a sense of both optimism and poignancy, in an uplifting manner.

“Art is a manifestation of emotion, and emotion speaks a language that all may understand” – The Moon and Sixpence by William Somerset Maugham


See my other work at my portfolio page.

Interested to read more about Yellow-crested Cockatoo in Hong Kong? Watch this video by GoldThread or read this article by Zolima.

Thank you for all the help on my art journey @ Very Private Gallery.

Share “Yellow Crested cockatoos in Hong Kong and me” on: