Black Palm Cockatoo Bird: What You Need To Know

The Black Palm Cockatoo is a wonderful friend!

But can you own a black palm cockatoo?

How long do black palm cockatoos live?

And are Palm cockatoos endangered?

We’ll cover all of this plus much more in this species profile…

Overview Of The Black Palm Cockatoo

The black palm cockatoo, also known as the great black cockatoo or the goliath cockatoo is one of the biggest of the cockatoo species.

The appearance of this bird is distinct, with a large crest and a very big beak. In between the bird’s beak and its eye, there’s a red colored bare skin patch that extends to the cheek.

Whenever the bird gets alarmed or excited the red color on the cheek changes.  

Although this parrot is known to be very temperamental, it’s also very sociable and requires regular attention from the owner.

This bird also requires firm training from the owner. This is why it makes more sense for more experienced bird owners to own this bird.

The scientific name of this parrot is Probosciger aterrimus. The adult palm cockatoo weighs between 2-3 pounds and can be as long as 22-24 inches.

Origin and evolution of the bird

Populations of this bird are found in Indonesia and New Guinea but it’s more native of Australia and particularly at northern Queensland’s tip.

These birds are typically found in tropical forests and they live together in small groups.

Of all parrot species, the palm cockatoo has the slowest reproduction rate. They only reproduce one egg every two years.

See Also: The Ultimate Guide to Beautiful Birds


The male palm cockatoo displays strong territorial behavior.

They create a loud noise by beating a seed pod or a large stick (about 15cm long & 2.5cm diameter) against a tree or dead bough. The resulting noise can be heard as far as 100m away.

The real reason for the drumming isn’t known till date. But the drum tools are thereafter stripped into smaller pieces and is used to line the nest.

This bird is an unusual bird and an ancient species, hence their ability to make use of tools.

The reason for the drumming maybe to mark their territory. It may also be that the females are able to use the drumming resonance to determine the strength of the nesting.


The palm cockatoos vocalize similarly to other wild parrots but they also produce a lot of other syllables when they are on display or in exchange with other individuals.

The male species are usually the ones that produce these other syllables. These syllables are usually combined to form complex sequences.

In a population of palm cockatoo in Iron Range (A National Park in Queensland Australia), 30 different syllables have been distinguished.

It’s been discovered that the palm cockatoos from the east have a call type different from those from other parts.

This difference is because of their long term isolation.

Are They Flock Breeders?

This parrot species is not known to move together in large numbers. Unlike many other cockatoo species, they don’t flock feed.

The maximum number of palm cockatoos that you can find feeding together at a time is six.

Most of the time, they’re found in a lesser number.

It’s very common among this bird, like with many other large birds, to find both parents caring for their young one.

If you find these birds congregate in numbers, it’d usually be along the edge of the rainforest or in open woodland immediately after sunrise.

Then they return to their individual roosts afterwards.

When these birds roost during the day, they do so close to a source of water or food. They roost individually at night in their nest trees.

Breeding Season

The breeding season for palm cockatoos is between August and January, although this may slightly vary depending on the local climate.

These birds are monogamous animals and they usually pair for life. The rate of reproduction is however very slow in palm cockatoo. They lay just one egg per clutch, once every two years.

The egg is incubated for a period of 30-33 days. They also have the longest fledgling age which is about 100-110 days.

The young bird is unable to fly until after 6 weeks and depends on its parents during this period.

They become independent after 6 weeks but don’t leave their parents until the next breeding season when they’re sent off.

The estimated age for sexual maturity in both male and female species is 7-8 years.

Breeding only occurs once yearly and these birds make use of the same breeding site yearly. The birds are unable to excavate their nests, so they only line the bottom with broken twigs.

Black Palm Cockatoo Health Tips

Feeding Habits And Nutrition

Palm cockatoo is known to feed on different fruits, seeds, and leaf buds.

These birds often take their food early in the day, and they feed mainly on pandanus palm fruit, kanari tree nuts, seeds from black bean tree, beach almond and cocky apple tree.

They forage the forest canopy and forest floors for these fruits and seeds and they use their strong mandibles to break them.

Apart from seeds and fruits, they’re also known to feed on insects and insect larvae.

Identifying Illness, Aggression or Societal Disharmony

Black palm cockatoo is very social and very intelligent birds. But unlike other parrots, they’re not as affectionate. They’re birds that require a lot of time and attention to tame.

Common signs of illness in this bird include dropping wings, lack of appetite, depression, weakness, tail bobbing, increased sleeping and a lack of interest or slow response to events around them.

You should pay more attention to their health once they start to show these symptoms.

Lifestyle, Health, and Life Expectancy

Palm cockatoos are very sociable animals. During the day, they often gather to feed in a group. They interact with one another and preen in this gathering.

One of the birds serve as a sentinel for the rest, it stays on the lookout for predators and other threats. It gives a loud warning sound to the flock as soon as it spots a threat.

The Ultimate Guide to the Black Palm Cockatoo

Palm cockatoos, many times, don’t move too far away from their nesting sites. But in the absence of food and water, they can travel very far distances in search of these.

Every palm cockatoo territory usually has few trees that serve as nesting sites.

These sites are visited at different times during the year but during the breeding season, the frequency of visits often increases.

When rain falls, you can find these birds stretching their tails and wings in an upside-down position, as if they’re taking a shower.

The owner of a palm cockatoo should feed their bird a healthy diet to avoid them becoming overweight.

Watch their fat intake and exercise the bird regularly to maintain good physical health. You should allow it 3-4 hours outside the cage daily to play and stretch its muscles.

The average life expectancy for this bird is between 40-60 years if they live in the wild. But if they live in captivity and are well taken care of, they can live as long as 80-90 years.

Major Diseases and Treatments

Sick black palm cockatoo usually has their feathers puffed up. They have fluid next to their eyes and some running from their nose. They also lose weight and breathe with an audible sound.

These are common symptoms of diseases. It’s, however, possible for the bird to be infected with a virus and not show immediate symptoms.

Diseases like PBFD, Polyoma, Giardia, and Psittacosis can be in the bird’s system and not show immediate symptoms.

The bird can then serve as carriers, spreading the disease to other parrots.

If the immune system is strong enough to keep it in check, it might be a carrier of the disease for life and not get sick. Otherwise, the bird will later fall sick.

The birds can also suffer from other diseases like fatty tumors (lipomas and fibromas), mutilation or feather plucking and sarcocystosis.

It’s a good practice to carry out a blood test to check diseases in the bird before buying it. You should also see a vet regularly to check for disease in your bird.

Population And Ecological Information

The population of this bird is decreasing steadily but they’re not yet considered as an endangered species.

The population decrease is due to loss of habitation through seasonal fires and logging, which destroys their nests in large numbers.

Hunting is another reason for their steady decline. In New Guinea, their unusual appearance of this bird makes the demand for sale on them very high. Hence, they’re being hunted for sale.

The total global population size of this bird is unknown according to IUCN Red List. But the bird is estimated to still have a large overall population globally.

They are currently classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List but the population is on a decrease.

Palm cockatoos are agents of seed dispersal for the fruit-bearing trees whose seeds they feed on.

Black Palm Cockatoo Colors And Markings

This bird is a dark or smoky gray-colored bird. The colors may differ as some may be blacker than others.

This uniform color is also seen on the bird’s crest and its feet and legs. There’s however a patch of bright red bare skin on the bird’s cheek.

The bright red color of this patch changes when the bird gets excited. Very much like the grayish-black beak, it’s very striking and gives the bird a distinct profile.

Palm cockatoo has a very large (second largest of all parrots) and distinct beak. The beak is shaped such that the upper and lower mandibles don’t touch each other.

This makes it easy for the bird to crack very hard nuts.

This bird is a monomorphic species. It’s therefore impossible to visually tell the difference between the male and female species. The only way to differentiate their gender is by DNA sexing.

Physical Characteristics

This is the biggest parrot in Australia and arguably the biggest of the cockatoo species.

This bird can be as long as 55-60cm (22-24 inches). The height ranges from 49-68cm and weighs between 910-1200g (2.01-2.65lb).

The wing is usually around 35.1cm long, tail length is between 23.8cm. Its large, strong beak (about 9.1cm long) allows it to crack nuts and break thick sticks from live trees.

Habitat And Climate

This bird is found and thrives in rainforests in the region of Australia, New Guinea, Cape York Peninsula and other small islands in the region.

It’s also found in Indonesia, close to Solong, West Papua, where they can be found on big trees along the road.

Pet Care Tips

It’s not ideal for people who live in condominiums and apartments to own a black palm cockatoo. This is because their calls are extremely loud and very distinct. It’ll disturb both you and your neighborhood.

If you’re also one who has a busy work schedule, then palm cockatoos are not a good option for you.

This is because these birds are not meant to be left on their own for up to 8 hours daily. You should be able to spend at least 2 hours daily with the bird.

These birds also require a big cage and a large space to play.

If you’re new to bird owning, you should contact someone with more experience and spend some time with them and their bird to know how to deal with them.

This bird can be expensive at over $15,000 because of their rarity. But you must be sure that you are not getting a palm cockatoo that was caught in the wild because they are usually hard to tame.

For you to own this bird, you require a CITES permit because they’re protected species.

Best Way to Ship ThemThe best way to ship them is by contacting shippers. The shippers will prepare the parrot, the shipping crates and shipping containers safely for the bird from one part of the world to another.

This definitely comes at a price.

FAQs About The Black Palm Cockatoo

Question 1: How long do black palm cockatoos live? 

If the bird is left alone to live in the wild, the average life expectancy for this bird is between 40-60 years. But the bird can live a lot longer in captivity, especially if it’s well taken care of by the owner.

They can live as long as 80-90 years.

Question 2: How much is a black palm cockatoo?

The black palm cockatoo are quite expensive bird to own. They usually cost more than $15,000.

The average price for this bird is around $19,000. If you add the prices for creating a large enough enclosure and feeding the bird, that’s over $20,000 already.

So if you’re looking to own a cheap bird, you should overlook this one.

Question 3: Where do black palm cockatoos live?

The natural habitat of the black palm cockatoo is in rainforests in Australia, New Guinea, Cape York Peninsula, Aru Islands, West Irian, Misool Isle and surrounding islands.

They can also be found in Indonesia close to West Papua. There are 3 subspecies. P. a. Goliath (the largest one) is found in Papuan Islands and Western Irian. P. a. atterimus is found in Northern Australia, Misool Isle and Aru Islands.

Question 4: Why are black palm cockatoos so expensive?

The reason this bird is very expensive is that the birds are very rare in the pet trade.

Their reducing population and the fact that they’re gradually moving towards being endangered by the continuous loss of habitat makes them expensive.

All the other accessories needed to take care of and maintain this bird also add to the overall cost. 

Question 5: Are Palm cockatoos endangered?

Although the total global population of this bird is unknown.

According to the IUCN Red List, the black palm cockatoo still have a large enough population to not be considered as endangered yet.

They’re currently classified as Least Concern (LC) but their reducing population is a cause for concern.

Question 6: Are Palm cockatoos good pets?

Without doubt, palm cockatoos are good pets. They tend to love their owners, require attention and love to be cuddled. But they’re not meant for everyone.

You should be able to spend a minimum of 2 hours with the bird daily. You should also not leave it alone on its own for up to 8 hours. If you can’t create time for this bird, you shouldn’t own one.

Question 7: Is Palm cockatoo a good first bird?

The simple answer is No. Palm cockatoo is very loud birds and can be very troublesome to deal with and train. They can be destructive too if allowed free hand and could constitute a nuisance in your home.

So if you don’t have previous experience owning and training a bird, you shouldn’t start with palm cockatoo.

If you are a devoted bird-lover and are looking to move up to a more exotic feathered friend, the black palm cockatoo could be just the ticket.

This type of bird, also known as the goliath cockatoo, is flamboyant and fun at the same time.

This bird’s appearance is what will grab your attention first. The red circle on each cheek makes it look like it has makeup on.

But it is just the right contrast to the stark black and white or matte gray feathers that adorn its body and fancy crest.

That takes care of the flamboyant side, now for the fun. The black palm cockatoo likes to drum (no, really, it drums), be hand-fed, and the red patch on its face changes colors when it becomes scared or afraid.

Think of him as your entertaining mood ring with a beat!

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