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Rare Australian Cockatoo Chicks Hatch – Population Now at 25 Birds

Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo maleAlthough a total population of 25 individuals does not sound very promising, hope remains that the Eyre Peninsula population of Yellow-Tailed Black Cockatoos (Calyptorhynchus funereus xanthanotus) will rebound.  With only 9 birds believed left in the wild, even the hatching of single chick, the first since the devastating brush fires of January, 2005, is cause for celebration.  A second chick, hatched at the George Wildlife Park in Adelaide, brought the captive population to 15.

Fires Deliver the Knockout Punch

While this species does range into other parts of Australia, the isolated population inhabiting South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula has long been at risk of extinction.  The massive fires of 2005 pushed them further towards the brink, destroying breeding habitat and depressing food supplies.

The Yellow-Tailed Black Cockatoo is unique among parrots in feeding heavily upon beetle grubs and moth larvae, which had been in short supply until heavy rains arrived earlier this year.  Also, in common with other cockatoos, they are cavity nesters and cannot utilize alternative sites – many nesting trees were lost during the fires.

Cautious Optimism

Australian wildlife biologists monitoring the wild population believe that the rains, insect abundance and successful nesting may be a sign of good things to come.  The birds were also observed consuming Hakea seeds and other foods that had been planted for them as part of the government’s rescue effort.  The fact that it took 5 years for a single chick to be produced, however, highlights just how uncertain this population’s future is.

Sarus CraneThe captive birth at the George Wildlife Park is also promising, as the parents were young birds that had not previously reproduced.  Four other pairs now kept at the park will hopefully “pitch in” to boost the population as well.

This project illustrates well the fact that even small-scale recovery plans can be important to cockatoos and other birds that face threats to their survival.  

Further Reading

Please see The Natural History of Black, Red-Tailed and Glossy Cockatoos for info more on these interesting Psittacines.

Video of wild Yellow-Tailed Black Cockatoos foraging for grubs.

Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo Male image referenced from wikipedia and originally posted by David Cook Wildlife Photography

Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo eating image referenced from wikipedia and originally Jonathan Zawada and posted by Snowmanradio


  1. avatar

    Hello Frank, Do you have anything on Peafowl?
    Because I’m taking care of a baby peachick of my
    peafowls. Thank you for your time.

  2. avatar

    Hello Linda, Frank Indiviglio here.

    Nice to hear from you, thanks for checking in.

    Please let me know what type of info you need, and some details (age, etc). They are generally quite hardy, I’ve even seen them raised by turkey hens that were free ranging at the Bronx Zoo. They do need to walk quite a bit, to encourage normal leg development; splay-leg can be a concern early-on also.

    Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  3. avatar

    In my opinion, the conservationists have done an excellent job and they deserve a pat on the back.

  4. avatar

    Hello Bryan, Frank Indiviglio here.

    Thanks for your interest in our blog. I agree; I’ve seen examples of birds being brought back from such low levels (thinking here of zoo-based captive breeding programs I’ve worked on, Tahitian Lories, Calif. Condors, etc.), so the effort is very worthwhile.

    Good luck and please keep me posted.

    Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

About Frank Indiviglio

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I believe that I was born with an intense interest in animals, as neither I nor any of my family can recall a time when I was not fascinated by creatures large and small. One might imagine this to be an unfortunate set of circumstances for a person born and raised in the Bronx, but, in actuality, quite the opposite was true. Most importantly, my family encouraged both my interest and the extensive menagerie that sprung from it. My mother and grandmother somehow found ways to cope with the skunks, flying squirrels, octopus, caimans and countless other odd creatures that routinely arrived un-announced at our front door. Assisting in hand-feeding hatchling praying mantises and in eradicating hoards of mosquitoes (I once thought I had discovered “fresh-water brine shrimp” and stocked my tanks with thousands of mosquito larvae!) became second nature to them. My mother went on to become a serious naturalist, and has helped thousands learn about wildlife in her 16 years as a volunteer at the Bronx Zoo. My grandfather actively conspired in my zoo-buildings efforts, regularly appearing with chipmunks, boa constrictors, turtles rescued from the Fulton Fish Market and, especially, unusual marine creatures. It was his passion for seahorses that led me to write a book about them years later. Thank you very much, for a complete biography of my experience click here.
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