Palm Cockatoo

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Scientfic name: Probosciger aterrimus

IUCN StatusLeast Concern

Quick Fact: Palm cockatoos live a long time in captivity. The oldest confirmed age of an individual cockatoo was 56 years old in the London Zoo is 2000.

Learn more: Visit the Encyclopedia of Life website for more articles about Palm Cockatoos.

Palm Cockatoos are one of the largest of the cockatoo species, reaching lengths of 24 inches and weighing up to 2.65 lbs. They are distributed in the rainforests and woodlands of New Guinea and Cape York Peninsula, Queensland, Australia.

The Palm Cockatoo is known for its black ‘smoky’ plumage, distinctive red cheek patch and large, powerful bill. The bill enables Palm Cockatoos to not only eat very hard nuts and seeds, but it also enables the males to break off thick (`1″) sticks from trees to use for a drumming display. The drumming is thought to be a way that potential mates can assess the durability of a nesting hollow that the male has chosen. The drumming may also be a way of males marking territory. The behavior is unique to the Palm Cockatoos.

Palm Cockatoos lay only one egg every second year and have one of the lowest breeding success rates reported for any species of parrot. Captive breeding is challenging. The birds require space, privacy and adequate nesting material (hollow log cavity, sticks and twigs). They may not begin to reproduce until an advance age (one male didn’t begin breeding until 29 years of age at the Taronga Zoo in Sydney).