Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Creature Feature: Palm Cockatoo.

Aww, parrots! Pirate references aside, there are few things that have the charm of a rainbow-colored, bright-eyed hookbill. There is very little bad to be said about parrots (unless you try owning one - then you get dust issues). Overall, they're happy, brightly-colored, intelligent, fun-loving birds.

Then you remember they have beaks. Parrots have strong, heavy beaks that can crush nuts with ease. Seriously, your finger is screwed if a large parrot bites it. If only they had the aggressive look to match that badassery...

(From thepetwiki.)

....yep, perfect candidate for "heavy metal parrot," there.

The Palm Cockatoo (Probosciger aterrimus) is probably the best parrot-y logo for a band ever. It crushes nuts for food, which is a good threat to anybody's masculinity.  It is native to Indonesia, New Guinea, and northern Australia. Unlike many of the creatures in that range, the palm cockatoo is nowhere near endangered. This is somewhat of a miracle, but more on why later.

Palm cockatoos are in a class all their own. No, really; they're the only members of their genus. Molecular testing says that they're distantly related from most other cockatoos.  If any cockatoo is an ancient cockatoo, it's probably the Palm.

Genetics talk aside, palm cockatoos are impressive birds to look at. They're the largest species of cockatoo in the world. Those red patches get brighter if the cockatoo gets stressed, making them one of the few birds that can change color. Their bill size is second only to that of the hyacinth macaw. Again, please think about that before you piss one of these birds off. (Is this guy nuts?)

These cockatoos have one of the neatest-sounding behaviors in the world: they drum. As in, they take a seed pod or heavy stick and drum it against a dead tree. Nobody really knows why they do this - dress rehearsal, perhaps? Their vocal repertoire isn't lacking, either, sporting a large vocabulary, a variety of whistles, and a call that sounds like a human's "hello." These guys truly are the rock stars of the parrot world!

You lookin' at me?

Palm cockatoos are available in the exotic pet trade with a price tag over 5,000 USD (I've seen snakes worth more). I'm honestly surprised they are not worth more; one of the candidates for "good pet" is a relatively fast breeding rate compared to humans. Some palm cockatoos do not breed until their 30's or 40's. They also live into their 80's, so if you do happen to be able to afford one, be sure to provide for it in your will.

Also...they can eat meat.

1 comment:

  1. Man... that beak is brutal! The top part as a bit that sticks down to meet the lower one, but then it just keeps on going.