Glossy black-cockatoo – Calyptorhynchus lathami

Female Glossy black-cockatoo Source: Wikimedia Commons

If you think your wife/husband/mother-in-law/three year old is picky, then hold my beer while introduce you to Glossy Black-cockatoos.

These beautiful black cockatoos are found down the east coast of Australia, and on Kangaroo Island. They are often mistaken for Red-tailed black cockatoos, but are around 10 centimetres shorter, and are our smallest black cockatoo. They are listed as vulnerable in Queensland, and are not common in the local area, and are only seen in small numbers, and infrequently.

I say they are picky because their diet consists almost exclusively of the seeds found in the cones of she-oak trees. But not just any she-oak they have to be about ten years old, and even then just the individual trees they like, in amongst a stand of otherwise suitable trees.

A pair of Glossy black-cockatoos will typically only have one baby every two years. Usually only one egg is laid, and on fledging the young bird will stay with the parents throughout the following year, meaning the parents can only breed every second year. To nest they require large hollows, which are usually only found in trees that are at least two hundred years old.

When you couple their feeding and breeding requirements with habitat destruction you can see why they are rare. The 2019 bushfires had a devastating effect on the Glossy Black-cockatoos on Kangaroo Island, with a large area of feeding and breeding habitat destroyed. This prompted the Federal Environment Minister to declare that sub-species of Glossy Black-cockatoo as vulnerable on the threatened species list, which affords it special protection.

To see a Glossy Black-cockatoo in our area is quite special, you can report these sightings at glossyblack.org.au and to find out more about birds in general visit birdbites.com.au or the Bird Bites facebook and youtube channel.

This article first appeared in the High Country Herald on June 4th, 2024