Black Palm Cockatoo – Care, Food & Profile

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The black palm cockatoo, also called goliath cockatoo, is the largest of the cockatoo species. It is strikingly beautiful but not naturally affectionate. With extensive training, a black palm cockatoo will make a great tame pet.

These birds thrive when they’re socialized, so they need regular attention and interaction with their owner.

The black palm cockatoo’s uneven temperament, beak strength, and large size make it most ideal for experienced bird owners. They are very bold and will require a very fearless keeper to match.

Origin and Natural Habitat

Black palm cockatoos are found and thrive in small islands and rainforests in the region of the Cape York Peninsula, New Guinea, and Australia.

They are also native to Indonesia, near Solong, West Papua, where you can find them on big trees by the roadside. The birds can also be found in tropical forests where they live in small groups.

Appearance

The black palm cockatoo has a smoky or dark gray color. The colors may vary as some may be darker than others. The bird’s crest, legs, and feet also have this uniform color.

However, its cheek has a patch of bare red skin. This bright red color usually changes when the parrot gets excited. Its grayish-black beak is very attractive and gives the parrot a unique profile.

The palm cockatoo’s beak is very large (one of the largest among parrots) and distinct. The shape of the beak is such that the lower and upper mandibles can’t touch each other, enabling the bird to crack very tough nuts easily.

Black palm cockatoos are monomorphic species, so it’s impossible to distinguish between the female and male species visually. You can only differentiate their gender through DNA sexing.

Weight and Size

Black palm cockatoos are arguably the largest of the cockatoo species and the largest parrots in Australia. They can be as long as 22 to 24 inches (55 to 60 cm).

The height ranges between 49 and 69 cm, and they weigh about 2 to 2.7 pounds (910 to 1200 grams).

Their tail length is usually about 23.8 cm long, and their wing about 35.2 cm long. They also have large, strong beaks (around 9 cm long) that allow them to break thick sticks on trees and crack hard nuts easily.

Breeding

The palm cockatoo has its breeding season from August to January, although slight variations may depend on the climate. These parrots are monogamous and will pair for life. However, their reproduction rate is very slow. The female lays an egg per clutch once in two years.

The palm cockatoo egg incubates over a period between 30 to 33 days. Their fledgling age is the longest — between 100 and 110 days. Their young cannot fly until after six weeks and depends solely on the parents during that period.

After six weeks, the young one becomes independent but will still be with its parents until the following breeding season when it’s sent off.

The sexual maturity age in both female and male species is estimated at seven to eight years. Breeding occurs once each year, and the palm cockatoos always use the same breeding site each year. These birds usually line the bottom of their nest with broken twigs as they can’t excavate it.

Food and Diet

In the wild, the black palm cockatoos eat early in the morning. Its natural diet consists of nuts from kanari trees and palm fruits. They can crack the hardest nuts using their strong beak.

Like every cockatoo, the black palm cockatoo is prone to becoming overweight, so you need to monitor their fat intake. About fifty percent of its meals should consist of top-quality pellets, while the other half can be fresh pet-safe vegetables and fruits.

You can occasionally give them nuts with shells to help exercise their beaks. But ensure not to feed nuts in excess quantities as most of them have high-fat content.

Begin by offering the bird pellets with fruits and vegetables every day. Increase the quantity when necessary. Never feed avocado or chocolate as they are very harmful to birds.

Exercise

Due to their large size, black palm cockatoos need plenty of exercises to remain physically healthy. Ensure you’re pet bird is allowed outside of the cage for at least 3 to 4 hours each day to enable it to socialize with you, play, and stretch its muscles and wings. These birds need regularly scheduled periods for training.

They are very curious birds, so you must monitor them outside their cage to prevent unwanted chewing of household items, walls, or furniture. Be careful of any electric wires within the environment S they can be potentially hazardous if the black palm cockatoo chews on them.

Also, keep in mind that toys help to keep this bird busy and provide enrichment. Give the bird enough stimulation with ropes, wood toys, and other items they can chew on.

You need to have new sets of toys readily available if they destroy the current ones. You can rotate the toys as your pet bird loses interest.

Ladders, swings, perches, and play stands can also help the black palm cockatoo to burn excess energy.

Common Diseases and Treatments

A sick black palm cockatoo will usually have its feathers puffed up. It has fluid next to its eyes, while some run from its nose. It may breathe with a loud sound and even lose weight.

These are some common disease symptoms in these birds. However, the palm cockatoo can be infected without showing any immediate symptoms.

Some diseases, including Psittacosis, Giardia, Polyoma, and PBFD, can be in the animal’s system without showing immediate symptoms. Infected cockatoos can then become carriers and spread the disease to other birds.

If the palm cockatoo has a strong enough immune system to keep it in check, the bird might carry the disease for life without falling sick. Otherwise, the palm cockatoo will eventually get sick.

The bird is also prone to other diseases, such as feather picking or mutilation, sarcocystosis, and fatty tumors (fibro and lipomas).

That’s why it’s advisable to check for diseases in the palm cockatoo by carrying out a blood test before purchasing or adopting it. You can also consult a vet to conduct regular checks for any disease in your pet bird.

Black palm cockatoos are not as affectionate as most other parrots. But they are very intelligent and social birds. They need a lot of attention and time to tame.

Other common signs of health conditions in the black palm cockatoo include weakness, increased sleeping, tail bobbing, lack of appetite, drooping wings, and a slow response to or a lack of interest in events around it. Ensure to observe their health more once they begin showing these symptoms.

Cage Size

A black palm cockatoo needs a durable and robust walk-in aviary that measures a minimum of 7 meters (23 foot) length in captivity.

They can be kept with other birds of the same species since they’re not aggressive. Ensure to provide perches to enable the bird to fly around with ease.

You can even offer chewable, such as wood or pine cones. You can also include other accessories, including link chains, plastic chains, and ladders, to keep your pet bird entertained.

If you’re not able to get a cage or aviary this large, it would be best to consider a smaller cockatoo. Keep in mind that these birds enjoy baths, so you need to provide some water to get them wet.

They shed natural dust that can coat nearby surfaces and cause allergies for people sensitive to animal dander or dust.

What is the Lifespan of Black Palm Cockatoos?

In the wild, the black palm cockatoo’s average life expectancy is between 40 and 60 years. But if in captivity and properly cared for, it can live up to about 80 or even 90 years.

Can Black Palm Cockatoos Talk?

The black palm cockatoo’s natural vocalizations (four different types) are human-like, including its “hello” signature. Its vocal ability is suitable for learning words. It has one of the best talking abilities among cockatoos.

The cockatoos have a distinct dialect. There’s a unique display where the male bird drums a long branch against a tree or dead bough, creating a very loud noise that you can hear from 100 meters away. The female birds can often access a nesting hollow’s durability through the drumming display resonance.

Are Black Palm Cockatoos Noisy Birds?

The black palm cockatoo isn’t a suitable pet for individuals who stay in condominiums or apartments. It makes distinct, deafening noises that you or your neighbors might not be able to tolerate, especially in serene environments.

Conclusion

Black palm cockatoos are great pets. They love being cuddled, require attention, and love their owners. But they’re not suited for everyone.

You must be able to spend at least two hours with your pet bird daily. Also, it shouldn’t be left alone for up to eight hours. If you’re not able to create enough time for the parrot, you shouldn’t consider getting one.

Cockatoos - Updated: October 21, 2020

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