Cockatoos, Hornbills…

Camera trap footage of cockatoos on nest tree ©KFI

… and other bird species, including other parrots, woodpeckers, owls, and some songbirds which need tree cavities for nesting are among the most threatened animal groups in tropical landscapes. Typically, they are affected by numerous threats at the same time. Many rely on tropical forests as habitats which still are disappearing at a fast rate, particularly in Southeast Asia.

The larger bird species, particularly parrots and hornbills need tall trees for nesting, many of which are valuable timber species and therefore are subject to legal and illegal logging. Many cavity-nesting birds are also targets of the illegal pet trade (especially parrots, hornbills, and some starlings among the songbirds) or are hunted for various reasons.

Palawan Hornbill portrait ©Peter Widmann-KFI

New threats are emerging for cavity nesting birds, including changing climate, novel diseases, introduced competitors or predators, unsustainable infrastructure projects, just to mention some.

Cavity-nesting birds are crucial for tropical forests. Woodpeckers chisel out nest holes in tree trunks with their strong beaks, often a new one for every breeding season. Many other forest animals are thus provided with shelter, including flying squirrels, bats, geckos, and bees. Hornbills and starlings are among the most efficient dispersers of seeds in the forest. Often, they swallow fruits whole and regurgitate seeds in other places where new trees have a chance to grow.

Hornbill and cockatoo mascots during festival ©KFI

Since more than twenty years, Katala Foundation, Inc. implements programs and projects for cavity-nesting birds, starting with the Philippine Cockatoo, but now involving a number of other threatened species, for example the Palawan Hornbill, Red-headed Flameback, or Palawan Scops-owl. Conservation management of these species is tailored to the ecology and threats of each species and can include habitat protection and management, nest monitoring and protection involving former poachers, patrolling, education, applied research, habitat restoration, community involvement through capacity-building and small livelihood projects.

Populations of Philippine Cockatoos are recovering in all project sites, indicating that measures implemented by Katala Foundation and its partners are working. Our longer-term goal is it to remove the cockatoo from the red list of threatened species, and to try the same for other highly threatened species!