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Learn about

the Philippine
cockatoo
Common name: Philippine cockatoo or Red-vented cockatoo

Scientific name: Cacatua haematuropygia

Local name: Katala, Kalangay, Abukay, Agay

Status: IUCN- Critically endangered. CITES- Appendix I. Until ca. 1980 the Philippine Cockatoo was
a common species found throughout the Philippine Archipelago. Since then, 60-90% decline in
population has occurred as a result of destructive human activities.
Description: The endemic Philippine or Red-vented cockatoo is a small psittacine with a helmet
crest and red undertail coverts. The white plumage is extremely conspicuous in flight and in the
foliage of the lowland dipterocarp and mangrove forest habitats. It is 12.2 inches long and has an
8.6 inches wingspan. The Katala as it is locally called is a social species which roosts, feeds, and flies
in noisy groups but during the mating season, from March to July, pairs live apart from the flock,
often reusing the same nesting tree year after year. It is a favorite caged-bird because of its ability
to mimic the human voice.

Distribution: In 1994, the estimated population is 1,000 to 4,000 individuals, 70-75% of which is
believed to occur in Palawan. Recent estimates by Widmann (2001) suggest 1000 individuals left in
the wild! Rasa probably holds the highest population density with 200 recorded individuals.

Feeding: The Philippine cockatoo feeds on seeds, and, to an extent, on fruits, flowers, buds and
nectar. The species is very adaptable and even forages on crops, particularly rice in a half-ripe stage
and corn. Therefore the cockatoo was formerly regarded as a pest.

Breeding: Pair bonds start to get closer in October. Birds are traveling pair wise and grooming of
partners can be observed more frequently at the roosting site. Nest holes are selected starting from
end of December. Laying of eggs is recorded from the second February decade to the first April
decade, but usually peaking between end of February and beginning of March. Full clutches
contain two or three eggs. On Rasa, fifty six nesting trees have been reported comprising of five
tree species.

Habitat: Lowland, riverine, and mangrove forests but may be found in forest edge and open fields
as well as high in the mountains. Can be seen singly or in flocks of up to 30 or more.

Voice: Loud raucous calls are varied ranging from eeeek, owwwwk, and rouuuk, and are almost
deafening when several birds are calling together, especially in flight.
Main threats

Poaching, selling and buying of the Philippine cockatoo – All known unprotected cockatoo nests
are poached. Because of its unique characteristics, the demand for the Philippine cockatoo is high.
Trade to meet the domestic demand is substantial and is very likely enough to endanger the
remnant cockatoo populations.

Habitat destruction – The cutting of mangroves and forest trees result to the loss of habitats
particularly nesting and food-providing trees for the Philippine cockatoo. Lowland forests are
converted for agriculture, mining or settling. Complete ecosystems, like freshwater swamp forests
are on the brink of extinction in the Philippines.

The Philippine cockatoo and other Philippine wildlife are protected by the Wildlife Conservation
and Protection Act of the Philippines or Republic Act 9147. Violations will lead to severe penalties
and several years of imprisonment!