Vocal complexity in the palm cockatoo (Probosciger aterrimus)

Zdenek, CN, Heinsohn, R, Langmore, NE (2015). Vocal complexity in the palm cockatoo (Probosciger aterrimus). Bioacoustics, Volume 24 (3): 253 -267

Parrots are renowned for their capacity for vocal learning and production of diverse sounds in captivity, yet little is known about why such advanced vocal capabilities have evolved. Here, we provide a detailed description and statistical classification of the vocal repertoire of wild palm cockatoos Probosciger aterrimus and investigate the behavioural contexts of vocalizations. We show that palm cockatoos produce vocalizations that conform to most of the common vocalizations described for wild parrots, but also produce a variety of additional syllables in a phonological syntactic manner in the contexts of display and vocal-exchange with neighbouring individuals. These additional syllables are mainly produced by males and are often combined to form long, complex sequences. Unlike most parrots, palm cockatoos defend large multipurpose territories and we speculate that the large vocal repertoire and vocal assemblages of palm cockatoos may function in territorial defense.


palm cockatoo, Probosciger aterrimus, vocal repertoire, vocal duet, Psittacine vocalizations, phonological syntax