What is a Palm Cockatoo?

Patti Kate
Patti Kate
Veterinarian with a puppy
Veterinarian with a puppy

A palm cockatoo is a large species of parrot, indigenous to Australia. Most palm cockatoos are between 50-70 centimeters (25 inches) in length. The males are typically somewhat larger and heavier than females. These birds typically weigh between 450-1,200 grams (16-423 ounces). The body of the palm cockatoo is black or charcoal-gray, unlike most cockatoos, which have solid white bodies.

All cockatoos are noted for their raised crests, which stand erect when displaying signs of excitement or interest. A palm cockatoo is also known as the Goliath cockatoo. The massive size of this parrot makes it must be kept in a very large cage if kept as a pet. If raised in captivity, palm cockatoos may live anywhere from 60-70 years. These birds tend to have smokey-gray feathering, which is produced by a powdery substance that protects the plumage.

The palm cockatoo is also noted for distinctive red patches on either side of the cheeks. The reddish-orange patches are similar in appearance to that of its much smaller cousin, the cockatiel. In the wild, cockatoos are desert-dwelling birds.

Domesticated by breeders who hand raise baby palms, these birds are not as commonly found on the pet market as other cockatoos. The Moluccan cockatoo, umbrella cockatoo, and sulfur crested varieties tend to be in greater demand by parrot enthusiasts. Palm cockatoos are often referred to as gentle giants, as they tend to be affectionate and social if hand raised from a baby.

In the wild, these parrots eat mostly seeds and nuts and some types of berries when available. When raised as pets, it is recommended to supplement the palm cockatoo's diet with fresh vegetables and fruit, and a source of protein such as small portions of egg. Protein is especially important for egg-laying females to avoid becoming egg-bound. It also helps promote feather health during the molt. Bird owners are also should feed their cockatoos an enriched pelleted diet.

Palm cockatoos have a wide range of vocal calls, whistles, and speech. Although not as apt to have an extensive vocabulary as most Amazon or African Grey species of parrot, the palm cockatoo is capable of learning a few words and mimicking speech. These birds also love to imitate other noises and sounds they often hear.

These birds are endangered in the wild, but attempts to preserve the species through breeding have been successful. A new parrot owner with little experience raising large birds may find this a challenging pet. It does require sufficient sized housing and should be left out of its cage for a few hours daily to interact with an owner and household members. This will also allow for exercise and activity. Parrot play gyms, as well as toys and accessories, are designed to help stimulate this intelligent species of parrot.

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    • Veterinarian with a puppy
      Veterinarian with a puppy