Glossy Black Cockatoo Population Recovering

The program created to save the birds is showing great progress.

The program created to save the birds is showing great progress.

Glossy Black Cockatoo
By Didier B (Sam67fr) (Own picture/Photo personelle) [GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0 or CC BY 2.5], via Wikimedia Commons

Update: We incorrectly state that the sheoak was used for feeding AND nesting, which is not the case. The article has changed to reflect that.

Some good news out of Australia from ABC in Australia: The glossy black cockatoo (Calyptorhynchus lathami halmaturinus) on Kangaroo Island is recovering!

For a little background: this glossy black cockatoo is a subspecies, halmaturinus. Unlike their relatives on the Australian mainland, there are only about 200 to 300 of these birds, all living on Kangaroo Island. According to BirdLife:

“This species is found in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria, Australia. Subspecies erebus is found in east-central Queensland; subspecies lathami has a patchy distribution in Queensland, Victoria, and King Island, Bass Strait; subspecies halmaturinus is now restricted to Kangaroo Island.?lt;/span>

These cockatoos always didn? live on the Kangaroo Island. In the 19th century, they were pushed out as the tree they relied on for food, the drooping sheoak, was removed for farms, etc. Researchers and scientists grew concerned in the 1990s, and the birds were listed as endangered under the Australian Government’s Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act in 1999.

The Glossy Black Recovery program, set up by the State Government and the Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources (DEWNR), was set up 20 years ago to help save the birds. Currently, the program is managed by Karleah Berris.

“Unmanaged, the existence of the glossy black cockatoo would be highly doubtful,” she told ABC. “There was a lot of concern in the mid 90s about the glossy black cockatoo. People noticed that they had been declining and got together to form the recovery program we now have in place.”

The cockatoos suffered from a number of problems: 

  • The loss of habitat and their primary food source, the sheoak;
  • They only have one chick per breeding season, and have a low reproductive rate;
  • The common brush tail possum was preying on their nests.

The Glossy Black Recovery Program helped the cockatoos by helping protect their nests from the possums, and also working to help protect and add to their habitat. It? been a long 20 years, but the population is increasing, marking this program a success.

There? a still a ways to go, but it? great news to hear!

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