Philippine Cockatoo

Philippine Cockatoo

The Philippine Cockatoo or red-vented cockatoo scientific name ( Cacatua haematuropygia ) and and locally agay ,abukay,kalangay or katala is a monotypic species of birds of the family Cacatuidae , endemic to the Philippines.

While it was common in 1950 , it declined rapidly to the point where it numbered only 1,000 to 4,000 representatives, divided into several populations.


Philippine Cockatoo 30–31 cm 300g Unique appearance within Philippines, although escapes of other white-plumaged cockatoos could potentially occur . White could potentially occur. White , corella-type cockatoo with helmet crest and white periophthalmic skin; undertail-coverts red, edged white; underside of wings (mainly flight feathers)  and tail yellow; bill  pale grey; sexes alike, but eye dark brown in male, reddish brown in female. Immature similar to adult, with iris greyer (initially, later brown).


This bird measures 30 to 31  cm for a mass of about 300  g . The plumage is white with orange undertail. The eyes are dark in adults and grayish in children.


As its name suggests, this bird lives in the Philippines: Palawan and Siargao .

Once widespread throughout Philippines, but now restricted to Palawan (including Rasa, Dumaran, Pandanas) and Sulu Is, with a few recorded in Polillo Is and on Samar and Bohol; possibly extinct in Masbate, Siquijor, Siargao and W Mindanao .

The Philippine cockatoo or Cacatua haematuropygia is a critically endangered bird. It belongs to the psittaciformes family.
Easy to recognize, the Philippine cockatoo is dressed in all-white plumage except for a small part behind its legs, at the tail. The latter is colored with yellow, red and orange feathers.

The Philippine cockatoo feeds mainly on seeds, but occasionally it will eat fruits, buds, nectar or flowers.


Once widespread throughout the islands that make up the Philippines, the number of cockatoos has decreased to a critical level.

Today, the number of individuals is estimated between 560 and 1150 but they are dispatched in several geographically separated populations. Some, too small today, unfortunately have little chance of seeing their numbers grow in the long term.

Philippine Cockatoo location

The Philippine cockatoo is found in all of the following regions:

  • Palawan
  • Rasa Island, near Palawan
  • Rizal
  • Masbate
  • Sirugao Del Sur
  • Bohol
  • Siquijor
  • Davao Occidental
  • Tawi-Tawi


The threats to the Philippine cockatoo are numerous:

  • The reduction of its natural environment for the benefit of human activity destroys nesting sites and isolates populations.
  • Repeated catches, in order to fuel the pet black market, complicate the species’ breeding efforts. Rare and very pretty, the chicks can be resold for up to $ 300. The poachers spot in advance the nests where the pairs settle and loot them without even waiting for the weaning of the chicks. The death rate of small cockatoos is very high without their parents.
  • Some farmers take a dim view of cockatoos and do not hesitate to slaughter them like other seed-eating birds. Indeed, the Philippine cockatoo has a particularly pronounced appetite for rice and corn crops. It is also frequently found there outside the breeding season.
  • Weather. In particular, it was noted that too much rainfall during the laying season prevented the population from increasing. In addition, typhoons systematically cause losses.

Conservation efforts

Conservation efforts for the protection of the Philippine Cockatoo are numerous. Today, several sites where he lives are protected areas:

  • The sanctuary of Rasa island
  • Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park
  • The “Omoi” and “Manambaling” reserves of the island of Dumaran
  • A protected area north of Rizal Island
  • Samar Island Natural Park

The Katala Foundation, supported by various sponsors including the Beauval Zoo in France, plays a key role in the conservation of the cockatoo. Since 1998, a very strong action plan has been put in place with the creation of the Philippine Cockatoo Conservation Program (PCCP).

The main challenges are to protect the primary and secondary forest where the cockatoo manages to reproduce and to put an end to poaching .

For the needs of the Philippine Cockatoo, forests have been specifically protected in the main areas of the bird’s range which are Palawan Island and Rasa Island.

Some successes fuel the hope of seeing this emblematic bird again in all the islands of the Philippines. In July 1998, the counts showed about twenty cockatoos on the island of Rasa. Today, following many efforts, the September 2013 counts indicated 186 individuals.

On this site, poaching has fallen sharply. The Katala Foundation invests a lot of physical and financial resources to educate and raise awareness among the populations of the need to protect the environment and wildlife.

The poachers who participated in the disappearance of the cockatoos are today its guardians. Today, the successes of Rasa Island are a case study for other protection sites.

A captive breeding program has also emerged to diversify the genetic makeup of the species, but reintroduction attempts have had mixed results. The Philippine cockatoo manages to acclimatize to a new environment but has problems linked to the too great docility of the released individuals.

Philippine Cockatoo


This cockatoo inhabits gallery forests and mangroves.

Originally found in dipterocarp forest in rolling country of the interior, but most of this has now been cleared; mangroves suggested to be important too. Nowadays, in non-breeding season can be found at forest edge and on nearby maize fields.

Philippine cockatoo lifespan

One specimen was still alive after 17.3 years in captivity


Never reported in large flocks, but 4–12 birds were commonly sighted before the population declined. Birds may move up to 8 km between large islands, like Palawan, to smaller islets where the birds roost and breed.


This species feeds on nuts, berries, corn, and other seeds.

Diet and Foraging:Seeds, fruits, nuts and berries, ripening maize and wild bananas all recorded as food items. Raids crops with other parrots .

Philippine Cockatoo



The female lays two or three eggs. Incubation lasts 28 days. The young stay in the nest for about eleven weeks.

From October, we begin to observe the formation of couples. They move and fly together, and towards the end of December they set out to find a hole in the heart of a tree to make their nest. The litters are 2 to 3 chicks. The laying takes place between the beginning of February and the end of March.


The Philippine cockatoo is a victim of trapping, capture of young, poaching, persecution of farmers, destruction of mangroves, typhoons, the introduction of invasive and predatory species. These causes have led to a reduction in the species’ population to a few hundred individuals 1 .

Sounds and Vocal Behavior

Bisyllabic calls described as loud, harsh croaks or rasping sounds .


The few nests located in the wild held nestlings in May–Jun; others were active in Feb, Mar and Apr, with recent record of incubation in Feb on Palawan. From avicultural records: clutch 2–3 eggs, size 37·7 mm × 26·7 mm ; incubation 28 days; chick has sparse medium yellow down; young remain in the nest for 9–10 weeks.

Protection of the Red-vented Cockatoo


With the intervention of local and international organizations, on the island of Palawan a conservation program has been set up.

Converted into guards, former poachers watch over wildlife in protected areas.

Trees in which catatoos feed and reproduce are replanted.

The populations are informed about the risks of extinction of the species through regular campaigns.

Several reintroduction projects are under study 1 .

CR Critically Endangered
Names (15)

Systematics History

Birds of Polillo, supposedly larger, occasionally separated as race mcgregori, but doubtfully valid. Monotypic.



In recent decades, the Philippine cockatoo has found itself on the brink of extinction. In 1998, only about twenty individuals were counted in Rasa, a small coral island on the east coast of Palawan. The reasons for this decline are:

  • Destruction of its habitat, especially the trees where it nests and forages
  • Slaughter of birds considered to be pests by farmers
  • Capture for the pet market
  • Tropical storms

This very rare cockatoo is one of the most endangered parrots in nature today.



In order to further protect the species and its living environments, the Beauval Nature association supports the Katala foundation in the Philippines.

Classified “Critically Endangered” by the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) since 1994, the Philippine cockatoo has however seen its numbers slowly increase in recent years thanks to many actions that are bearing fruit:

  • The island of Rasa, where the highest density of cockatoos is recorded, has been classified as a nature reserve
  • A major reforestation campaign on the island was organized with the help of local populations.
  • Many young people in need of food resources were collected and transferred to another area of ​​the island
  • A guarding network made up of repentant poachers has been successfully organized: the local bird population has grown from 20 to 200 individuals. This network of guards was extended to the neighboring islands, where municipal reserves were created.

… And the efforts are continuing!

  • The plan to reintroduce the species to its original distribution area has been proposed to the SOS organization (Save Our Species) and accepted
  • Cockatoo populations remain monitored on the islands of Rasa and Dumaran. In Rasa, 200 birds were counted in January 2012, of which 174 remained for the breeding season; 46 young were thus born, making the island a high place of reproduction for the species. In Dumaran, subject to intensive logging, the Katala Foundation is deploying many efforts to prevent the implementation of a large-scale plantation project that would further degrade the island’s ecosystems.
  • By supporting the “Polillo Islands Parrot Project” , the Katala foundation is extending the protection of the Philippine cockatoo to the Polillo Islands, where population monitoring is in place. Thanks to local partnerships, law enforcement is strengthened and information campaigns are carried out.


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