IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


22nd August, 2023 Environment

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  • Six Palm cockatoos (Probosciger aterrimus) or black cockatoos– Australian exotic birds– were rescued from Assam’s Cachar district.


  • The Palm Cockatoo is a remarkable bird species that stands out among cockatoos for its distinctive appearance, behavior, and habitat.
  • Found primarily in the tropical rainforests of New Guinea and the surrounding islands, this charismatic bird holds a special place in the avian world.

Physical Characteristics

Size and Appearance

  • The Palm Cockatoo is one of the largest cockatoos, measuring around 55 to 60 cm (22 to 24 inches) in length.
  • It has a unique appearance, characterized by its large, strong bill, prominent crest, and striking black plumage.
  • The red cheek patches are a prominent feature, adding a burst of color to its overall black appearance.

Crest and Bill

  • The bird's distinctive crest, composed of elongated feathers, can be raised and lowered at will, reflecting its emotional state.
  • The strong and curved bill, adapted for breaking open nuts and feeding on a variety of foods, plays a vital role in the bird's survival.

Habitat and Distribution

Natural Range

  • The Palm Cockatoo is native to the rainforests of New Guinea, including both the western and eastern parts of the island.
  • It can also be found on the surrounding islands, such as Cape York Peninsula in Australia, the Aru Islands, and the Solomon Islands.

Preferred Habitat

  • This cockatoo species is strongly associated with lowland and swamp forests, riverine habitats, and areas with abundant palm trees.
  • The dense canopy and lush vegetation of these habitats provide the bird with ample food sources and suitable nesting locations.

Behavior and Ecology

Feeding Habits

  • The Palm Cockatoo's diet is diverse, including a variety of foods such as fruits, seeds, nuts, flowers, and even insect larvae.
  • Its strong bill allows it to crack open hard nuts and fruits, playing a crucial role in foraging.

Breeding and Reproduction

  • These birds are known for their unique courtship rituals, which involve drumming on hollow branches using sticks or their bills to create loud and resonant sounds.
  • Nests are typically constructed in tree hollows, where the female lays one or two eggs. Both parents share the responsibility of incubating the eggs and raising the chicks.

Conservation Status and Threats

  • The Palm Cockatoo is listed as "Near Threatened" by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
  • Habitat loss and degradation due to deforestation, logging, and land conversion pose significant threats to this species.
  • Conservation efforts focus on protecting the tropical rainforests and their diverse ecosystems, which are crucial for the survival of the Palm Cockatoo.
  • Community-based initiatives, habitat restoration, and raising awareness about the importance of preserving these birds' habitats are essential for their conservation.

Cultural Significance

  • The Palm Cockatoo has cultural significance for many indigenous communities in its range, often being represented in traditional art, rituals, and stories.
  • Its unique appearance and behaviors have captured the interest of people worldwide, making it a subject of fascination for bird enthusiasts and researchers alike.


The Palm Cockatoo is a remarkable bird with its striking appearance, distinctive behaviors, and importance in the tropical rainforests of New Guinea and surrounding areas. Its conservation is vital to maintaining the biodiversity of these regions and preserving a species that holds a unique place in both ecological and cultural contexts.


Q. Which bird species is known for its distinctive appearance, including a large bill and striking black plumage, and is native to the rainforests of New Guinea and the surrounding islands?


a) Scarlet Macaw

b) Palm Cockatoo

c) Eclectus Parrot

d) Sulphur-crested Cockatoo

Answer: b)