On October 5 an egg hatched at Adelaide Zoo in South Australia and out popped a Palm Cockatoo chick with a face that only a mother Palm Cockatoo could love! She has since grown into a gorgeous bird! This is the first successful Zoo birth of a Palm Cockatoo in Australia since 1973 and Adelaide Zoo is the only Zoo in Australia to house Palm Cockatoos. Adelaide Zoo keepers decided to take the egg away from her parents as they had a poor history of incubating their own eggs. The egg was then placed in an incubator and once hatched the chick was cared for by keepers. For the first few weeks of her life she needed feeding every hour and a half. This kept the keepers very busy who in turn took her home over night for those 2am feeds! Since the Palm Cockatoo are native to warm regions such as northern Queensland, Australia, New Guinea island in Indonesia and Papua New Guinea, the chick had to be kept at a constant temperature of 35C/95F degrees during her early development.
At two months of age the chick began to stay full time at Adelaide Zoo and only then required feeding twice a day. She will still require hand feeding potentially for the next five or six months as wild Palm Cockatoos generally do not leave the nest until they are about four months old and are notoriously slow at weaning.
Between 50 and 70 days old most of her feather growth occurred. The huge primary and secondary flight feathers were still mostly enclosed by the sheaths that protect the feather as they developed. The feathers are very sensitive when they are growing and being bumped or broken can cause a lot of bleeding as each one has a blood supply until it has finished growing.
At 86 days old she took her first flight which was quiet graceful although very short from the weighing scales to a nearby door, where she stayed until a keeper rescued her.
Learning to feed yourself is not that easy if you are a cockatoo. To start with you need to learn to hold things in your foot and manipulate it so that small bits can be broken off and swallowed. It seems that she instinctively knew that the foot is somehow involved in eating. When she first started perching and was holding a piece of food in her mouth she would clumsily wave her left foot about, or even just hold it up off the perch. She has progressed past this point, but it is still a challenge to ordinate the whole process.
Adelaide Zoo’s Palm Cockatoo chick’s next big step will be introducing her to her parents so that she gets some much needed socialization to help her learn what it is like to be a real Palm Cocky.
You can help name this young Cockatoo by visiting the Adelaide Zoo's naming competition.