Palm Cockatoo Project

Palm Cockatoo Project

As an official sponsor of the Palm Cockatoo Project, the GreenHoose has been vital to our project and has contributed to our successes. I founded the Palm Cockatoo Project seven years ago in 2009, and over the past few years I have been fortunate to call the GreenHoose home during some field seasons. Right on the edge of the world--]famous Iron Range rainforest on Cape York, it has been an absolute pleasure to view the wildlife from this gem of a spot!

From the speccy birds to the endemic mammals and sexy snakes, there is never a dull day at the GreenHoose if you keep your eyes and ears tuned into the bush. The walking track out the back down to the Claudie River is a comfortable way to explore the rainforest to see find the specialty birds of this region.

Palm Cockatoos can be seen flying over the GreenHoose almost daily, and if they are not seen flying, their calls can be heard and a bit of effort can hopefully reward one with a prized view of a palmy.

Likewise, the Cape York endemic Eclectus Parrots (pictured here) are often heard/seen flying overhead. The red female and green male are a marvel to watch in their interesting breeding arrangements and obsession with good--]quality hollows (that donft flood in the wet season) in the rainforest. My supervisor, Rob Heinsohn researched these mesmerizing parrots for nine years, and they feature prominently in his beautiful coffee--]table style book, called the eLife in the Cape York Rainforest.f Because this book is no longer in print, the GreenHoosefs copy is now rare, so make sure to have a read during your stay ; ).

The Spotted (Grey) Cuscus (Spilocuscus maculatus) can be spotted at night nearby, and if youfre lucky maybe even the more rare Southern Brown Cuscus (Phalanger intercastellanus) (pictured here). The Green Python (Morelia viridis) is a world--] famous snake, featured regularly in herpetological magazines and books, including front covers. Its unique colour change from yellow to green from juvenile to adult means that, if you are here at the right time of year, you might find two colour morphs of the same species! Spotlighting for these beauties is always a delight, as they sit hung in hunting position near the ground, ready to strike at their prey. Presumably, they hang over a Melomys (Melomys capensis; native small rodent) track that they sense out with their sensitive forked tongue.

Besides the wildlife, the owners and managers of the GreenHoose are a delightful group of people with whom to spend time. The Layton family—each of whom I know well and can attest are great people—make any length of stay at the GreenHoose enjoyable. Friendly local advice is handy to have, and the stories told by the managers at the GreenHoose are always a hoot to hear.

Running The Palm Cockatoo Project from the GreenHoose for a couple of field seasons has allowed us to realise great successes. We have found 149 Palm Cockatoo hollows over the years, nine of which have been confirmed nests (Note: even with the aid of a nest--] checking extension pole, it is incredibly difficult to find palmy nest hollows!). We have been able to record hundreds of hours of vocalisations for Vocal--] Individuality tests for non--]invasive individual identification, and we have also managed to video record the rare drumming behaviour on a whopping 60 occasions since 2009! Our scientific papers about this fascinating and unique behaviour are in the pipeline, but we do have several popular magazine articles out with some interesting stories to tell. These articles can be downloaded from http://www.christinazdenek.com/palm-cockatoo/

 

 

Article and images by Christina N. Zdenek
Field Project Manager
The Palm Cockatoo Project
The Australian National University Written 29/07/15