#ThreatenedSpecies of the Week: Carnaby’s Black Cockatoo

Calyptorhynchus latirostris is listed as Endangered under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act).

There are a number of threats facing Carnaby’s Black-Cockatoo:

  • Habitat fragmentation, particularly in the northern and eastern areas of the Wheatbelt. Most habitat suitable for breeding and feeding in the Wheatbelt has been cleared entirely or fragmented. In addition, clearing of heathland surrounding breeding sites has reduced the survival rate of fledglings by decreasing the available food sources for the young
  • Removal of nest hollows for use as firewood or just to make properties look ‘tidy’. Much woodland lacks hollows, and it takes over 100 years for woodland seedlings to mature and form hollows suitable for nesting
  • Competition for hollows from other species
  • Loss of native food sources caused by urban development on the Swan coastal plain
  • Poaching: illegal poaching is still a threat – trees are often cut down or the hollow severely damaged when young and eggs are taken, removing breeding sites
  • Invasive species: other bird species such as the Galah and the Western Long-billed Corella are extending their range in the Wheatbelt and are competing with and excluding Carnaby’s Black-Cockatoos from traditional nest hollows.

cockatoo

This large black cockatoo (also known as the Short-billed Black-Cockatoo) has white tail panels, white cheek patches and a short bill. It lives only in southwest Australia where large-scale clearing for farming has fragmented much of its habitat, particularly mature eucalypts such as salmon gum and wandoo that have suitable hollows for nesting.

Carnaby’s Black-Cockatoo is endemic to southwest Western Australia, extending from the Murchison River to Esperance, and inland to Coroow, Kellerberrin and Lake Cronion. Most breeding occurs in areas with an average annual rainfall of 300-750 mm, typically in the Wheatbelt and Great Southern regions. For nesting, Carnaby’s Black-Cockatoos require eucalypt woodland, comprising principally of salmon gum or wandoo. Their food is found in shrubland, or kwongan heath.

The cockatoos require a close association between breeding and feeding sites during the breeding season. If these two very different habitats are not within a reasonable distance of each other, breeding attempts fail. After breeding, the cockatoos move to higher rainfall areas along the coast in search of food sources such as banksia and hakea heathlands.

Carnaby’s Black-Cockatoos feed on the seeds of a variety of native and introduced plant species and on insect larvae. Plants include kwongan heath plants such banksias, dryandra, hakea, grevillea and also marri seeds. They have also adapted to feeding on exotic species such as pines and cape lilac and some weeds such as wild radish and wild geranium.

Did you know?

  • Male Carnaby’s Black-Cockatoos feed the female at her nest during the incubation period and fly over 12km to ensure she gets the food she needs during nesting
  • The cockatoos rarely use the same hollow to nest in if the breeding attempt the previous season was unsuccessful
  • The birds display strong bonds with their partners throughout their adult life
  • If two eggs are produced, the second egg is laid two to eight days after the first egg
  • The cockatoos can live for 40 to 50 years in the wild

 How you can help?

  • Protect existing hollows
  • Protect remnant vegetation and banksia heathlands that support cockatoos
  • Revegetate habitats
  • Join BirdLife WA for the 2016 Great Cocky Count

Information Source: Government of Australia, Department of Environment and Department of Parks and Wildlife Western Australia

 

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1 comment

I was walking past Ascot Racecourse and about 20 black white tailed cockatoos landed on a large gum tree.
We get lots of red tailed black cockatoos since all the land at the airport has been cleared.
But this is the first time I’ve seen the Barnabys.
Very worrying

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