Both sexes of this large (around 56cm), predominantly dark blue-black cockatoo, with massive upper bill and scarlet facial patch, are similar, although the females are generally smaller than the males. The crest consists of numerous elongated plumes, which appear untidy and backswept. The younger birds have a paler face and yellowish flecking on the feathers of the underparts. It lives in rainforests, palm forests and eucalypt woodland where it perches high in a dead tree or feeds on a fruits, seeds and leaf shoots, within the canopy area. When feeding it is normally alone, in pairs or small family groups, but may form small social groups before this. It gives a two-toned contact call or harsh screech in alarm. It is also famed for using a stick, normally grasped in its left foot, to bang on hollow logs or trees. It nests in a hollow within a dead tree, with breeding taking place in around July.