Matomo-Image-Tracker Psittaciformes - Probosciger - Palm Cockatoo

Psittaciformes

Probosciger - Probosciger Aterrimus - Palm Cockatoo


The palm cockatoo (Probosciger aterrimus), also known as the goliath cockatoo, great black cockatoo, or the black palm cockatoo, is a large smoky-grey or black parrot of the cockatoo family native to New Guinea, Aru Islands, and Cape York Peninsula. It has a very large black beak and prominent red cheek patches.

Due to their unique appearance, they are in high demand in aviculture. They can no longer be imported into the United States so they demand a much higher price than other cockatoos. Hand raised chicks often start at 15 thousand dollars in the United States. Breeding isn't said to be difficult, but some birds don't breed until they are in their twenty's. They lay one egg, every other year, giving them one of the lowest reported breeding rate of any parrot species.

Description

The palm cockatoo is 55 to 60 cm (22 to 24 in) in length and weighs 910–1,200 g (2.01–2.65 lb). It may be the largest cockatoo species and largest parrot in Australia, although large races of yellow-tailed black cockatoos and sulphur-crested cockatoos broadly overlap in size. It is a distinctive bird with a large crest and has one of the largest bills of any parrot (only the hyacinth macaw's is larger). This powerful bill enables palm cockatoos not only to eat very hard nuts and seeds, but also enables males to break off thick (about 1 in) sticks from live trees to use for a drumming display. The male has a larger beak than the female. The bill is unusual, as the lower and upper mandibles do not meet for much of its length, allowing the tongue to hold a nut against the top mandible while the lower mandible works to open it. The palm cockatoo also has a distinctive red cheek patch that changes color when the bird is alarmed or excited.

The palm cockatoo has a large and complex vocal repertoire, including many whistles and even a "hello" call that sounds surprisingly human-like. Distinct dialects occur throughout the species' range.

Anecdotal evidence indicates a palm cockatoo reaching 80 or 90 years of age in an Australian zoo, although the oldest confirmed individual was aged 56 in London Zoo in 2000. Although longevity of captive birds is known, the lifespan of palm cockatoos that live in the wild is still unknown.

Distribution and Habitat

The palm cockatoo is found in rainforests and woodlands of New Guinea and Cape York Peninsula, Queensland, Australia. It can still be found near Sorong, West Papua, Indonesia, where it is sometimes seen in trees along the roads.

Behavior

It has a unique territorial display where the bird (typically the male) drums with a large (i.e. up to 2.5 cm diameter, 15 cm long) stick or seed pod against a dead bough or tree, creating a loud noise that can be heard up to 100 m away. After drumming, the male occasionally strips the drum tool into small pieces to line the nest. Although this drumming behavior was discovered over two decades ago, the reason why palm cockatoos drum is still a mystery. One reason could be that females can assess the durability of the nesting hollow by the resonance of the drumming. Another possibility could be that males drum to mark their territory against other males. The palm cockatoo is an unusual bird, being an ancient species and one of the few bird species known to use tools.

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Page last updated: 1/4/24

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