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Palm Cockatoo

Probosciger aterrimus

Palmcockatoo Gallery

About the Palm Cockatoo

conservation status: least concern

Geographic Range:

range map

Class: Aves
Order: Psittaciformes
Superfamily: Cacatuoidae
Family: Cacatuidae
Subfamily: Cacatuinae
Tribe: Microglossini
Genus: Probosciger
Species: aterrimus

The palm cockatoo is the largest of the cockatoo family and lives in large flocks in the forests of New Guinea. Cockatoos are considered to be intelligent, able to mimic human speech and are therefore prized as pets, which has led to diminished population numbers.

Palm Cockatoo Facts


The palm cockatoo has black feathers over most of its body, a large feather crest on top of its head, and a red patch of skin under the eye. A white dander tends to give it a duller gray color. Like all parrots, the palm cockatoo has a large and very strong beak built to crack open hard-to-eat seeds and tear into fruits.


The palm cockatoo is the largest Australian parrot species. Males and females are roughly the same size and weight. Females of some sub-species have slightly smaller beaks.

  • Length: Up to 25 inches from head to tail
  • Weight: Up to one kilogram (2.2 pounds)


Fruit, seeds and nuts

Mating and Reproduction:

Cockatoos have a long breeding season, stretching from August to January. They're monogamous and mate for life. Mated pairs are highly territorial, guarding several possible nest sites. However, they generally only use one of them when it comes time to mate.

This species builds nests that differ from their cockatoo cousins, choosing to lay their eggs in nests without roofs that provide no protection from the rain. Females lay one egg at a time and gestate for 30 days. Eggs lay upon a bed of twigs that allows rainwater to pass through. Chicks leave the nest after three months. They take two additional weeks to learn to fly and are fed by their parents for another six weeks. They reach physical maturity at five to six months and are sexually mature after seven to eight years.


Palm cockatoos will show excitement by making themselves look bigger. They achieve this illusion by puffing up the long crest feathers on top of their head that point down their back when lowered. The red patch of skin under their eyes also shows excitement by becoming a brighter red. This distinctive red patch can also be hidden by the feathers on the face if the bird desires. They communicate with loud shrieks and screams that can be heard by others in their flock over the noise of their forest habitat. Palm cockatoos have been observed using sticks as tools for communication, banging them against trees and other surfaces in their habitat, although the exact meaning of this form of communication is unknown.

Unlike most parrots, palm cockatoos don't live in large flocks. They're found alone, in pairs or in small groups of up to six individuals. They'll often sleep in or near the same cavity and forage long distances for foor or water.


  • Habitat: Lowland rainforests to dense savannah habitats. Can be found in secondary as well as primary growth.
  • Range: Cape York Peninsula (Australia), Papua New Guinea and several surrounding islands and island chains.

Median Life Expectancy:

Unknown in the wild