Baudin’s black cockatoos at Araluen Botanical Park

Don’t you love it when you don’t expect to see your favourite cockatoos show up?

 

 

While on an evening trip to Araluen (I highly recommend their basic membership which gives you unlimited entries for a year), I stumbled upon a flock of Baudin’s black cockatoos. My passion and dedication, as well as the volunteering opportunities at Kaarakin transformed me in an expert on how to recognise the Baudin’s cockatoos from the Carnaby’s cockatoos by only listening to their calling sounds!

Carnaby’s sound like “weela, weela”, while Baudin’s sound more like “witcha witcha” or “bunyip bunyip”.

Sadly the number of Baudin’s is estimated to be below 10,000 and the species has been officially added to the threatened species list in 2018. I feel very privileged when I see a flock of Baudin’s and get to spend some time observing them and their family dynamics. This flock had a few youngsters (called juveniles), from last year’s breeding season. Their calling sound is different from adults. They sound more like “rrrrr rrrrr” (the begging sound). Their body is hunched, their wings are usually as close to their body as possible and their seem to be begging when their parents are next to them.

Usually if the youngsters stick to a tree while the parents go and feed somewhere else, it usually means that they will come back to the young ones. So there was a pretty good chance that they will stick to the Araluen park yesterday and they did so I managed to get a few photos.

It was very tricky as the black cockatoos like to be on top of the trees, ¬†and even though I applied exposure compensation, the images can still appear dark. I found working with the Sigma 150-600 mm tricky as in the evening, the light dims quickly and to compensate, I need to increase the ISO value and use exposure compensation which in turns slow the shutter speed. It’s a vicious circle, as it means increasing the ISO even more. I tend to stick to max 4000 as I feel that after that the quality is compromised… What about you? What is your method to take photos of black cockatoos?

On another note, if you have a close look at this photo, you will see that this female has shabby feathers. I am not an expert regarding this condition, but I tend to think that she could be an “old girl”. I have read a few articles about the ageing population of black cockatoos and some researchers think that the decline of the black cockatoos population might also be due to the ageing population which reproduce less. This combined to the lack of food, lack of hollows and lack of habitat have contributed to the decline of the Baudin’s black cockatoos.

The feathers condition shows it could be an old Baudin’s cockatoo

 

What can you do to help black cockatoos?

  • Lobby your council and government
  • Fight for a stronger EPA act
  • Help preserve native habitat
  • Plant a black cockatoo friendly garden
  • Participate in planting days
  • Support Kaarakin Black Cockatoo Conservation Centre
  • Finance artificial hollows/ make hollows

 

 

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