Video: Elusive palm cockatoos captured on film

By Christina Zdenek 29 April 2015
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Researcher Christina Zdenek captured some rare film of the elusive wild palm cockatoo

Cockatoos are found in New Guinea, Indonesia, the Philippines, Solomon Islands and Australia, and of the 21 known species – the palm cockatoo (‘palmy’) is the heaviest and largest.

On occasion, when their mood is right, their bald red cheeks can flush with blood, turning from pale red to deep scarlet. If that’s not intriguing enough, perhaps more curious is their drumming behaviour. Like no other creature in the world, palmies fashion thick sticks from branches, grip them with their feet and bang them on trunks and tree hollows – but it’s unknown why they do it.

These long-lived birds breed on average just once every two years, and invariably lay just a single egg per clutch. What’s worse for the future survival of the species is this egg has a low chance of hatching and an even lower chance of reaching adulthood.

They are currently listed as ‘Near Threatened’ but may soon be moved into the more severe category of ‘Vulnerable.

Find out more in issue 126 (May/June) of Australian Geographic