Help needed to find nesting cockatoos

BirdLife Australia and the Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo Recovery Team are again seeking the public’s support to help to find flocks and nests of the endangered South-eastern Red-tailed Black Cockatoo.

Since 2011, there has been a nest incentive program to help locate new nests of the cockatoo. The scheme has been particularly effective with 31 new nests located.

This year, due to limited funding, incentives are only being offered for new nests found in South Australia. People can receive a $500 reward for information leading to the confirmation of a new nest.

Red-tails nest in large hollows close to their stringybark feeding habitat. These typically occur in very old, large eucalypts such as Red Gums. Dead Red Gums in paddocks are favoured, but Red-tails will also nest in other eucalypts (live and dead) with suitable sized hollows.

Unlike other species of Black-Cockatoos, it’s uncommon for Red-tails to return to the same nest year after year. Nest selection depends on the availability of food (stringybark seeds) within close proximity to nest sites. This makes finding active nests always a challenge.

Project coordinator Bronwyn Perryman is eager to find more nests across the range, especially in South Australia where there are very few known nests.

“Knowing where nests are helps us to protect them from nest raiding predators such as brush tail possums. It also allows us to monitor the outcome of nests to find out which nests succeed and those that fail. This is now more important than ever given many years of repeated poor breeding,” Bronwyn said.

For the last two years, the recovery team has been working closely with PhD student Daniella Teixeira to explore whether sound recordings can be used to cost effectively monitor nests and see if young birds successfully leave the nest (fledge).

“This is very exciting research and if successful will provide a non-invasive, cost-effective way to monitor large numbers of nest sites each year,” Bronwyn said.

Sighting information provided by the public can help to locate nest sites. Anyone who sees Red-tails or knows where they may be nesting is encouraged to contact Bronwyn.

“We are particularly keen to hear from anyone who sees single adult males or pairs of Red-tails coming into water or trees with large hollows, as these are indicators of nesting birds,” explained Bronwyn.

Making a report is simple and can be done by phoning 1800 262 062; emailing redtail@birdlife.org.au or by visiting the website www.redtail.com.au. Record the date and time of sighting, number of Red-tails, the location (preferably a grid reference), and what the birds were doing.

Guidelines for the nest incentive scheme and information on Red-tail nesting behaviour are available at www.redtail.com.au.

The SERTBC Recovery Program is supported by the South East Natural Resources Management Board and Wimmera Catchment Management Authority through funding from the Australian Government’s Regional Land Partnerships of the National Landcare Program.