Chris Watson

Birding Central Australia #73 - Red-tailed Black Cockatoo

Chris Watson

Red-tailed Black Cockatoo Calyptorhynchus banksii

This week we’re looking at yet another species that we are fortunate to enjoy here in The Centre, but which is in steady decline in southern states. Cockatoos are obligate hollow nesters. This means that they can’t build a nest of sticks like other birds – they must find a suitably large tree hollow or they will not breed. In areas where there has been large scale clearing of forests and dead timber, these birds are becoming increasingly difficult to find. It’s a great lesson in the value of our old trees, including the dead ones. Dead timber provides vital refuge for whole communities of animals from tiny invertebrates, bats, and geckoes, to the spectacular cockatoos in the picture.

It seems we are heading into a great season for birds and all sorts of wildlife in The Centre. Many locals have been noticing birds like our Red-tailed Black Cockatoos in increasing numbers over recent weeks. Smaller parrots like Budgerigars and Cockatiels have also become a common sight and sound around Alice Springs. The resident flock of Little Corellas down at the sewage ponds has almost doubled in size from last year’s mob, and the black cockies are turning up everywhere.

Inland Dotterels have been reported from Rainbow Valley, and White-fronted Honeyeaters have been seen around the edges of town – both highly mobile species that spread out in response to favourable conditions. A Banded Stilt was handed in to wildlife carers in Coober Pedy, so perhaps this species is on the move from saline systems to our south. Raptors seem to have bred well this season, with sightings of young Spotted Harriers, Peregrine Falcons, and Black-shouldered Kites.

Happy birding!