Glossy Black Cockatoo

The glossy black cockatoo (Calyptorhynchus lathami) is generally smaller than other black cockatoos, with a small crest, and is listed as vulnerable (on the endangered animals list) in NSW. The glossy black cockatoo is a highly selective feeder, preferring to eat the seeds of mature casuarina (or sheoak) trees, and the tell-tale sign of its presence is a layer of cracked cones and fragments beneath these trees. Scientists estimate that the birds spend at least 88 per cent of their time foraging.

Glossy_Black-Cockatoo_rectangle-218x300

Glossy black cockatoo habitat

The glossy black-cockatoo lives in coastal woodlands and drier forested areas, open inland woodlands or timbered watercourses where casuarinas are common. It is thought to prefer living in rugged country, where extensive clearing has not taken place.

In inland NSW, the glossy black cockatoo prefers brigalow scrub or hilly rocky country containing casuarina trees. Throughout the State of NSW, the current distribution of the glossy black-cockatoo covers areas from the coast to the tablelands, and as far west as the Riverina and Pilliga Scrub.

Threats to the glossy black cockatoo

Since European colonisation, habitat loss has posed the greatest threat to the glossy black cockatoo. Many casuarinas and eucalypts have been removed due to land clearing, for grazing and crops. Casuarinas are also very fire-sensitive and bushfires have destroyed many large, dead trees that the birds have traditionally relied upon for nesting hollows.

There is some evidence that glossy black cockatoos have also been trapped for the illegal bird trade. Feral cats and possums, which raid the birds’ nests, pose an additional threat, and galahs and introduced honeybees compete with the cockatoo for nests.

Solutions – What can be done?

The best way that land owners can help conserve the glossy black cockatoo is to retain existing stands of casuarinas and eucalypt trees and to extend this habitat where possible. Casuarinas and other suitable trees can also be planted in rural areas and on urban fringes to provide feeding habitat and breeding sites. Saving dead trees, and preventing them from being used for firewood, will also ensure that the glossy black has sufficient nesting sites.

The Nature Conservation Trust’s conservation work on private lands is helping to protect habitat for the glossy black-cockatoo.