Carnaby's Black Cockatoo

Calyptorhynchus latirostris
Carnaby’s-black cockatoo, Carnaby’s cockatoo, Mallee cockatoo, Ngoolark, Short-billed black cockatoo, Short-billed black-cockatoo, Slender-billed black-cockatoo, Slender-billed cockatoo, White-tailed black cockatoo, White-tailed black-cockatoo, White-tail
Endangered Carnaby’s black cockatoos belong to just two species in the world of white-tailed black cockatoos, the other being the Baudin’s black cockatoo. They both live only in the Southwest Australia Ecoregion. The Carnaby’s black cockatoo is a large, distinctive cockatoo of a dull black color with pale margins on its feathers. Their long tail feathers have white panels which are most easily seen when they are flying. Males have black beaks with a pink ring around their eyes, while females’ beaks are whitish and they have a gray eye-ring. They can easily be confused with the Baudin’s black cockatoo, but are distinguished by a comparatively shorter and broader beak, adapted for cracking hard seeds open.
40,000

population size

40-50 yrs

Life span

520-790 g

Weight

53-58 cm

Length

110 cm

wingspan

Disrtibution

Carnaby’s black-cockatoo is native to southwest Western Australia, and is found mainly between Esperance and Murchison River, and inland to Lake Cronin, Coorow and Kellerberrin. Outside the breeding season, these birds live in plantations of mainly pines, Eucalyptus woodlands, orchards, parks and gardens, and farmlands with scattered trees.

Habits and lifestyle

Carnaby’s black cockatoo lives in areas with higher rainfall. Birds living in the drier parts of the range travel westwards after the breeding season. They are noisy and conspicuous outside the breeding season when gathered in large flocks. During the breeding season, they are usually in pairs or a trio of one young with its parents. When the birds are feeding in a flock, one or two of them perch in nearby trees to give loud screeches in alarm if a predator or intruder approaches, whereupon the entire flock flies away. These cockatoos are rather arboreal, but may be seen low in stunted bushes. In cool weather they are active all day. In summer, they shelter from the midday heat in the shade of foliage, where they are invisible. Carnaby’s black cockatoos are noisy birds and can make a range of calls, a wailing high-pitched ‘whee-la’ being the most common. A harsh screech is the alarm call, and young birds constantly make a harsh wheezing sound.

group name

flock, company, pandemonium

Diet and nutrition

Carnaby’s black cockatoos are predominantly herbivores (granivores), they mainly eat seeds, as well as weeds like wild radish and wild geranium. They also eat nectar from flowers and insect larvae.

Mating habits

This species is monogamous and mates form strong bonds for their whole adult life. July to September or to November is the breeding time, according to location. These birds nest in large eucalypt trees in hollows, usually 2 -10m or higher above the ground. Eggs are laid in wood chippings at the hollow’s base. Breeding pairs may come back to the same nesting area year after year. Females lay 1 to 2 white eggs. The second egg may be laid 2 to 8 days later than the first. Incubation is by the female and is for about 4 weeks. The male feeds her at the nest during this period. The altricial chicks are mainly fed by the female, and then by both parents after 2 to 3 weeks. Usually just one chick survives. Young fledge when they are around 10 to 11 weeks old, but they depend on their parents for several months. Once they fledge, the young and their parents move to a feeding area where they join a flock of several family groups.

Mating behavior

Reproduction season

July-September/November

Incubation period

4 weeks

Independent age

10-11 weeks
hen

female name

cock

male name

chick

baby name

1-2 eggs

Clutch size

Population

Population Trend

Population status

ne
dd
lc
nt
vu
en
cr
ew
ex

Population threats

Habitat destruction is a serious threat to this species, as the cutting down of trees destroys their nesting sites. They also face competition with introduced bees, corellas and galahs for nesting sites. These cockatoos have an extremely low reproductive rate, which means they cannot quickly replace large numbers of their population shot by farmers. They are also highly prized on the black market as pets. Chicks are often taken from nests, with trees cut down to reach the eggs and chicks in the nesting hollows.

Population number

According to the IUCN Red List, the total Carnaby’s black cockatoo population size is around 40,000 individuals. Currently this species is classified as Endangered (EN) and its numbers today are decreasing.

Fun facts for kids

  1. Cockatoos may walk along branches, biting off cones, seeds or green branches for seemingly no reason.
  2. Females incubating eggs are fed by their mates, which may fly more than 12 km between nesting and feeding sites.
  3. Cockatoos rarely nest in the same hollow if breeding in the previous season was not successful.
  4. In Australian slang, a “cockatoo” is someone who looks out for the authorities during an illegal activity.
  5. Cockatoos are unique not only because of their feather crests but because of their beaks. Their lower jaw is in the shape of a “U”, described as a three-way bite, which enables the bird to gain more power to bite its food.