Brand New Bird Babies in Murchison

Over the last 12 months, NACC NRM has been working with Birdlife Australia and landholders all around the region to monitor and conserve breeding sites of the endangered Carnaby’s Black Cockatoo!

This month, we set out to Murchison House Station, near Kalbarri, which is the furthest north that Carnaby’s Black Cockatoos are known to breed. The station has had close to 150mm of rain this month and we spent a soggy few days searching for cockatoo nests and installing permanent monitoring points.

Love is definitely in the air at the station, and we saw many birds building nests! In the end, we found at least three active cockatoo nests. We were able to take a peek inside two of these, using our snazzy pole-cam, and found a young nestling in one of the hollows and an egg in another (see video here)! This made for a very exciting start to the season.

Our planned monitoring program involves nine permanent survey points, one at the homestead and four each in Carnaby’s Black Cockatoo breeding habitat (riverine woodland with large River Red Gums) and foraging habitat (open Banksia woodland).

We plan to conduct bird community surveys at each point on a monthly basis throughout the breeding season. Around each survey point, we have installed vegetation survey transects and will be working with the Geraldton Regional Herbarium Group to identify the most common plants used by the cockatoos. In addition to general bird and plant surveys, we will be monitoring all the Carnaby’s Black Cockatoo nests that we can find, and trying to work out how many pairs are breeding in the area and how successful they are relative to some other breeding sites in the region.

Out and about on Murchison House Station last week, we spotted roughly 15 male cockatoos congregated near one of the active nesting hollows. While we’ve only found three nests so far, our best guess is that there are 10-15 pairs breeding at the Station. We’ll be heading back out in August, with a group of dedicated volunteers, to try and find the other nests and to keep an eye on the adorable chick we’ve already found. Stay tuned to hear how it goes!

All monitoring conducted by licensed professionals with the permission of the landholders and the appropriate permits.

Dr Amanda Bourne – Conservation Planning Officer

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