Species profile

Carnaby’s Black Cockatoo

Carnaby’s Black Cockatoo

Range and abundance

Carnaby’s Black-Cockatoo is restricted to south-western Western Australia. Within this area, the species occurs from the Murchison River in the north, around the coast to Esperance and inland to Kellerberrin. Individuals are long-lived (40-50 years in the wild) but become reproductively inactive in later years. Much of the current population is thought to be past reproductive age and so the abundance of individuals capable of breeding is significantly lower than the total population. This places limitations on the capacity for this species to increase its population size through natural recruitment processes. The species no longer breeds in up to a third of their former breeding sites in the WA wheatbelt.

Description

Carnaby’s Black-Cockatoo is a large, distinctive cockatoo. Birds are an overall dull black colour but their feathers have pale margins. They also sport a white ear-patch and white panels in their long tail-feathers, which are most easily seen in flight.  Males have a black beak and a pink eye-ring, while females have a whitish beak and a grey eye-ring. These birds are easily confused with Baudin’s Black Cockatoo, but Carnaby’s Black Cockatoos can be distinguished by a relatively shorter and broader beak, which is specially adapted for cracking hard seed capsules. 

Ecology

Carnaby’s Black Cockatoos have different habitat requirements for nesting and for feeding. Specifically, they nest in eucalypt woodlands, favouring hollows in large eucalypts (predominantly Salmon gum and Wandoo). They feed in areas of shrubland or heath that contain Banksias, Dryandra, Hakea, Grevillea and Marri seeds. Birds lay two eggs (but generally only one offspring survives) and maintain strong partner bonds throughout their adult life. 

Threats

Currently, the major threats for Carnaby’s Black-Cockatoo are habitat loss and fragmentation, a decline in the availability of nesting hollows and illegal poaching. These birds are particularly susceptible to land clearing as they depend on two different habitat types (eucalypt woodlands and heath/shrublands), and need these habitats to be in relative proximity. The juxtaposition of these two habitat types is especially important for the survival of juvenile birds. 

Access to suitable hollows for breeding is also essential for this species’ recruitment. However, the number of available hollows is declining across this bird’s range. This is both because hollow-bearing trees are sometimes removed from properties and because of competition for hollows with other hollow-nesting species. This is thought to be a particular threat in the wheatbelt region, where Galahs and Western Long-billed Corellas have extended their range. 

Illegal poaching is also a threat to Carnaby’s Black-Cockatoos. Poaching has the direct impact of removing individuals from wild populations, but can also lead to nest site destruction as poachers gain access to eggs or juveniles. Destruction or removal of hollows is an issue for all hollow-nesting birds because it usually takes over 100 years for tree seedlings to mature and form suitably large hollows for nesting. 


 

What is AWC doing?

AWC protects habitat and potential nesting sites for Carnaby’s Black-Cockatoo at its Karakamia and Paruna sanctuaries. Its presence is recorded in general bird surveys at both sanctuaries.

Did you know:

While females are incubating eggs, they are fed by their partners. In order to do this, males may be flying over 12 km between feeding and nesting sites.