10 May 2023

Why our iconic bird should be 2032 Olympics mascot

| Matt Nicholls
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A CAMPAIGN has been launched to make an iconic Cape York bird the face of the Brisbane Olympics in 2032.

The endangered palm cockatoo has been nominated by Birds Queensland as the mascot of the 2032 Games.

Palm cockatoo expert Christina Zdenek said the spectacular black-crested and scarlet-cheeked parrot was famous as the only bird in the world to drum with a drumstick.

“The males trim a tree branch into a drumstick, then bang their drumstick on a branch or tree hollow to create an individualistic rhythmic beat in a social context,” Dr Zdenek said.

“It’s truly remarkable behaviour, which will captivate the world.”

Birds Queensland president Andrew Thelander said unlike the white ibis or the “bin chicken”, the palm cockatoo was a marketing dream – colourful, charismatic, and musical.

“The palmy is the perfect mascot for Queensland, a bird we are all proud of,” Mr Thelander said.

“Past mascots have been mammals, so now it’s time to give the birds a go!”

Palm Cockatoos are found around Cape York Peninsula, Papua New Guinea and Indonesia’s Irian Jaya province.

Birds Queensland has encouraged the Olympics organisers to reach out to PNG and Indonesia and involve them in the Olympic celebrations, using the mascot to cement friendly ties with our northern neighbours.

Mr Thelander also hoped that Olympic recognition for “palmies” may galvanise funding and spur conservation action to help the endangered species.

Palm cockatoo pairs lay just one egg every two years, with only one chick successfully fledging the nest once every 10 years on average, making them one of the slowest breeding parrots in the world.

Palmies are Australia’s largest cockatoo, reaching up to 1.2kg.

“For that reason, they need very large tree hollows to nest in – so large it’s often the entire hollowed out tree trunk that is the nest hollow – that is, vertically piped tree trunks open to the sky,” Dr Zdenek said.

“These ancient nesting trees are irreplaceable.”

To support the campaign to make the palm cockatoo the mascot of the 2032 Olympics, go to www.facebook.com/PalmyMascot

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