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Carnaby’s Cockatoo

With its famous white tail and ‘wee-loo’ call, most people in Perth recognise this iconic species. They migrate back and forth from the Swan Coastal Plain where they feed during the summer, to the Wheatbelt where they breed in tree hollows during the winter. The only problem is, 90% of what is now the Wheatbelt used to be bushland, and this cockatoo is running out of places to breed and feed.

These striking birds were named in honour of naturalist Ivan Carnaby.  Their scientific name is Calyptorhynchus latirostris. 

Birds are browish-black in colour with whiteish-yellow feathers over the ears.  The male bird has a blackish bill and pink skin around its eyes.  His female counterpart has a greyish bill and grey skin around her eyes.

They are only found in Western Australia (endemic) north of Kalbarri, east to Merredin, south to Hopetown and east to Cape Arid near Esperance.  Numbers have declined over the last 50 years – so much so they are now listed as ‘endangered’. Flock sizes are reducing due to large scale clearing in the wheatbelt and Banksia and Tuart woodlands on the Swan Coastal Plain in the Perth area.

 

It’s very powerful bill chews through cones, nuts and seeds of the Banksia, Dryandra, Hakea, Eucalyptus, Corymbia and Gravillea.  The flowers and nectar of the plants are also readily enjoyed, showing just how critical these plants are to the survival of the Black Cockatoos – providing whole meals, when plenty exisit in the natural habitat.  Also, the seeds of pine trees and nut trees like almonds and macadamias are devoured by these special birds.

Carnaby’s live for 25 – 50 years.

They breed mainly in the wheatbelt in old smooth-barked eucalypts like Wandoo and Salmon Gum.

In non-breeding season, flocks move to coastal areas especially pine plantations and Banksia woodlands.  One or two eggs are laid, but usually only one chick is reared.  Only the female incubates the eggs and the male attentively feeds her whilst she is on the nest.