Black Cockatoo Breeding Workshop

A black cockatoo breeding workshop was held on 3 November 2019 at Landcare SJ. The project is funded by The Alcoa Foundation. The two speakers were Adam Peck from BirdLife WA and Francis Smit from Landcare SJ.

The design of the Cockatube: a black cockatoo artificial nesting hollow

They taught us how to recognise potential breeding and locate breeding hollows. They showed us artificial hollows called “Cockatubes” that are made at Landcare SJ. Over ten years the design has been researched and developed by Landcare SJ Inc in co-operation with WA Museum and Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA).

How to survey black cockatoo nesting hollows: introducing the “Cocky Cam”

We also visited some hollows and learnt how to use the “Cocky Cam” (telescopic pole with wireless camera). We knocked on the base of each tree to flush out the birds, unfortunately on this occasion no Black Cockatoo were nesting but we did find a Galah and a Wood Duck. We recorded the information in a survey.

Adam Peck from Birdlife WA showed the workshop attendants how to use the Cocky Cam and how to record the results in a survey

Black cockatoo breeding habits

Black Cockatoos return to their natal areas to breed so locations of installed Cockatubes have to be precise. Water has to be within 2km and food within 6-12km from nesting sites.

Carnaby’s migrate to the Wheatbelt to breed late Winter/Spring. Baudin’s breeding is more similar to Carnaby’s but they don’t go to the Wheatbelt. Whereas Forest Red-tailed Black Cockatoos breeds anytime of the year and almost always in ancient Marri however some breeding has been recorded in Cockatubes.

Records in 2018 shows that Black Cockatoos are breeding in 20% of natural and 25% of artificial hollows. However 6% of natural and 10% of artificial are used by competitors such as corellas, galahs, ducks, owls, possums, feral bees, etc.

What artificial nesting hollows taught us

Thirty Cockatubes have been installed on private properties in Lake Clifton, Serpentine, Jarrahdale, Harvey and Waroona. Other installed sites are in Hopeland and Yellagonga. There’s also monitoring of twenty Cockatubes in Keysbrook. Thirty nine Cockatubes have been supplied for the areas from Muchea to Wubin.

An interesting fact is a shipment of ten modified Cockatubes to suit Palm Cockatoo breeding was sent to Weipa in Queensland. Also a separate shipment of six Cockatubes was sent to Victoria.

Cockatubes cost from $420 to $450 each and lasts approximately 50 years. It can be bought from Landcare SJ. They are recommended by the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA) as they have optimum hollow dimensions for WA Black Cockatoos and are suitable for all Australian species of Black Cockatoos. Landcare SJ can provide full installation service or you can install it yourself with the installation guidelines. A cherry picker is normally needed to do the installation.

Carnaby’s black cockatoo in the Wheatbelt. Photo by Celine Dubois www.therainbirdphotography.com

How you can help with the conservation of black cockatoos

It’s important to note that large areas of native vegetation have been cleared for development, such as 65% of Banksia woodlands have been cleared on Swan Coastal Plain (which supports Carnaby’s in non breeding season). How we can help the threatened Black Cockatoos to keep breeding successfully is to revegetate cocky food plants to provide future food and nesting sites. The BirdLife and Aloca project aims to plant 27,000 plants up to mid 2021.

More than 83% of the Wheatbelt has been cleared. The very dark green colour along the coast is the remaining of the marri/ jarrah and wandoo forrest. The lighter green is agricultural fields or developments.

Author: Melinda Glover, Volunteer at Kaarakin Black Cockatoo Conservation Centre

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