Carnaby’s Black Cockatoo

Calyptorhynchus latirostric

Carnaby's Black Cockatoo

 

Description

The iconic Carnaby’s white tailed black cockatoo is an amazing species. Named in honour of Western Australian farmer and orithologist Ivan Carnaby, it is one of the very few migratory parrots, moving annually between its inland woodland breeding habitat and coastal areas during the non breeding season, which is January through to June/ July. Loud and gregarious, it mates for life and lives for a very long time, though only reproducing at a slow rate. This masks the full extent of their decline as the population continues to age. In the 1930’s Ivan Carnaby was the first to recognise that there were two species of white-tailed black cockatoos.

Other names: Short-billed black cockatoo, manatj, ngoorlak (refers to a flock of black cockatoos). Some of the Nyoongar names might also apply to the Baudin’s black cockatoo.

Description: Carnaby’s black cockatoo is a large black cockatoo with white under its tail. It is distinguished from Baudin’s black cockatoos by its shorter upper mandible.

Males: black bill, pink eye ring and dusky white ear patch. Juvenile males resemble adult females until about 3 years old.

Females: Greyish white bill, grey eye ring and yellowish white ear patch.

Distribution and habitat: Carnaby’s black cockatoos are confined to the south west of Western Australia. They breed in the northern kwongan (shrubby heathlands) and Wheatbelt, but spend summer near the west and south coasts. They can also be found in pine plantations due to having adapted to eat pine cones (places include Gangnara pine plantation and South Perth (super roost in the city).

Biology and ecology: The birds nest in large, deep hollows, mainly in salmon gums (Eucalyptus salmonophloia) and wandoo (E. wandoo). Two eggs are laid but only one chick usually survives. They feed in kwongan. Seeds of hakes, banksias, grevilleas and eucalypts from the bulk of their diet, but insects, particularly boring insects, are also eaten. They also feed in pine plantations.

Diet: The flowers, nectar and seeds of banksia, dryandra, hakes, eucalyptus, corymbia and grevillea. They also feed on pine cones, almonds and macadamia, the flesh and juices of apples and persimmons, as well as insect larvae.

Threats: Clearing, and subsequent land degradation, has eliminated most of the breeding habitat and much of the coastal kwongan where the Carnaby’s black cockatoos spend time in summer. As it requires old trees with large hollows in which to nest, it will take many decades for trees planted now to become suitable. Because of clearing, the distances between remaining nesting trees and feeding areas in kwongan have become so great in some areas that the chicks starve. Competition for nesting hollows by increasing numbers of galahs western corollas and feral honey bees may be significant. Illegal trapping, which often involves the destruction of nesting hollows, has been a threat and although demand from the domestic market has been largely eliminated via effective enforcement, smuggling is still an issue. Extensive harvesting of mature pines have also reduced the summer food supply. Vehicle strikes are also a threat to the survival of the species as well as a disease which paralyse the Carnaby’s black cockatoos and often leads to death if non treated.

Status: Endangered.

Carnaby's Black Cockatoo in Moora

How you can help

  • Spread the word
  • Report injured birds to Kaarakin (08 9390 2288)
  • Report illegal shooting to DBCA (1800 449 453)
  • Plant local species like banksias and hakeas for small urban backyards or jarrah or marri trees for rural backyards.
  • Build nesting boxes or articifial nesting hollows

Learn more about Black Cockatoos on this page.