Palm cockatoo

(Probosciger aterrimus)




Facts about this animal

With a total length ranging from 49 cm to 68 cm, the palm cockatoo is one of the largest cockatoo species. It is relatively lightweight for its size, females ranging from 500-950 g and males from 545 to 1092 g.

The Palm Cockatoo is characterized by an extensive red (actually ranging from off white to burgundy), naked facial “cheek” patch, which it can hide with coverlet feathers, and a spectacular backward curving erectile crest.

The plumage is black with powder down, adding a subtle grey colour.

The palm cockatoo beak is unique in its size and structure. The upper beak is almost twice the size of a Moluccan Cockatoo's (Cacatua moluccensis). The beak has great strength for cracking large nuts, but the maxilla is almost hollow in the area below the cere, making it vulnerable to physical trauma. The maxilla has a large biting surface on the underside that opposes the biting edge of the mandible. The mouth is never completely closed because of the structure of the maxilla and mandible. The structure of the mouth is also different from other cockatoos in that the black tipped red tongue is deep-seated.

Unlike other cockatoos, Palm Cockatoos are not flock feeders. They are generally observed singly, in pairs, or in small groups of up to five or seven individuals. Pairs separate from these parties at sunset and return to their own territories to roost, separately, in the same tree. Breeding cavities are usually found at considerable heights and are often more than 1 m deep with a diameter of 25 to 60 cm. The same nest may be used for several yearss. A single egg is laid, and incubated by both parents for a period of 28 to 31 days from laying to pipping, with an additional 3 or 4 days to hatch. The hatched chick is totally naked and does not develop down, unlike all other cockatoo chicks which are hisuated.

Palm Cockatoos feed on seed, nuts, fruits, berries, and leaf buds. They are primarily arboreal feeders, but have also been seen foraging on the ground.

Did you know?
that a palm cockatoo chick does not emerge from the nest for 100 to 110 days after hatching? This is the longest nestling period known for any parrot species.


Class AVES
Name (Scientific) Probosciger aterrimus
Name (English) Palm cockatoo
Name (French) Microglosse noir
Name (German) Arakakadu
Name (Spanish) Cacatúa enlutada
CITES Status Appendix I
CMS Status Not listed



Photo Copyright by
Gerald Dick



Range Australasia: Australia (Cape York Peninsula), Indonesia (Irian Jaya), Papua New Guinea
Habitat Tropical moist lowland forest
Wild population No global data. Subspecies macgillivrayi of Australia ca. 3,000 individuals(Red List IUCN 2011)
Zoo population 154 reported to ISIS (2008), 19 of which subspecies goliath

In the Zoo

Palm cockatoo


How this animal should be transported

For air transport, Container Note 11D of the IATA Live Animals Regulations should be followed.

A size 100 or 200 plastic kennel with metal windows and doors, or wooden crates may be used for shipping. Some type of bedding material, such as straw or wood shavings, should be provided. A secure perch, bolted to the floor or sides of the container can also help stabilize the birds. Providing the birds with food is recommended during shipment. Water is not recommended for short flights. The birds will get the moisture they need from the fresh fruit provided.


Find this animal on ZooLex


Photo Copyright by
Vladimír Motyčka

Why do zoos keep this animal

Palm cockatoos are conspicuous and attractive birds, which are a good ambassador species for the conservation of Australasian fauna and flora. They have an interesting anatomy and behaviour, and are thus also of educational interest. Zoos may keep palm cockatoos also for animal welfare reasons as they may have to take care of confiscated birds.