A Home Among the Artificial Hollows

NACC NRM’s Biodiversity Project Officer Samantha Comito, and Birdlife Midwest volunteer Heather Beswick, were lucky enough to spend a day with the Australian Black Cockatoo specialists Rick Dawson, Peter Mawson, and Dennis Saunders at this year’s annual banding trip at Coomallo Creek.

The trip to Coomallo, home to one of the longest-running Carnaby monitoring programs, led to an exciting discovery; our artificial hollows are a flocking great success! Ten out of ten of the artificial hollows, funded through NACC NRM’s Carnaby conservation project and installed in 2021, had been occupied during the breeding season!

Out of the ten hollows, eight had successfully bred at least one nestling. The other two hollows had been occupied but had unfortunately failed, showing evidence of a second attempt to breed for the season with new Carnaby eggs in both hollows.

The objective of this particular visit to Coomallo was to band this year’s nestlings. The application of bands on any bird requires a specialist permit, to ensure that the birds are caught, handled, and banded safely. The bands are inscribed with a unique number which allows easy identification of each bird. In the past, information collected from banded birds has led researchers to major discoveries around life-span and movement.

A leg band on a Carnaby.

Coomallo Creek has seen wonderful success with Carnaby’s over the years, which is largely due to the intensive upkeep of hollows. Every 6 months, the dedicated Australian Black Cockatoo team of specialists conducts maintenance on both natural and artificial hollows at this site. Another contributing factor is the partnerships that have been formed with local landholders over the past 37 years of monitoring this site. Their continued enthusiasm and willingness to work with the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation & Attractions (DBCA) and the Australian Black Cockatoo Specialists has enabled this essential work to be undertaken, securing the future for Coomallo’s Carnaby’s cockatoos.

It was a very exciting day for Sam and Heather, discovering the artificial hollows boasting huge success, and being able to watch the experts in action as they carried out the annual banding! Thank you to the Australian Black Cockatoo team of specialists who dedicate much of their time to the conservation of this unique Western Australia cockatoo.

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