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Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo

Yellow-tailed Black CockatooName:
Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo

Genus:
Calyptorhynchus funereus

Description:
One of my favourite members of the parrot family would have to be the yellow-tailed black cockatoo. During autumn, these large black cockatoos form flocks that move around Sydney in search of food. The males have a blackish bill, a red eye-ring and a dull yellow ear patch. The female has a whitish bill, a grey eye-ring and a bright yellow ear patch. Both sexes have large yellow panels in a long tail that can be seen when the bird is in flight.

The sight of a large flock slowly flapping overhead is a great spectacle. Their flight is buoyant and effortless as they wheel through the treetops with slow, deep, wing beats and floating glides. They usually call loudly whilst in flight and this adds to the exhibition. Their calls are a far-carrying ‘whyeeela’, as well as harsh screeches when alarmed. While feeding the sound of grinding is quite distinctive.

These birds can be found in diverse habitats ranging from coastal, inland and alpine eucalypt forests, heath, banksia, hakea and acacia woodland and rainforests. They feed on the seed capsules of native trees and shrubs including eucalypts, banksias and hakeas. They also feed on exotic pines and can extract wood boring insects from tree trunks.

In Centennial Parklands they can usually be seen in the Pine Forest, Sandstone Ridge or near Lachlan Swamp where pines and banksias are plentiful.

These birds nest in high tree hollows that are deep and wide at the nest floor. The bottom of the hollow is lined with wood chips and the two eggs are laid on these. The female incubates the eggs for 28 days whilst being fed by the male.

The chick leaves the nest after about 15 weeks.

If you hear the distinctive call of the yellow-tailed black cockatoo in the Parklands, take heed as you will be in for a feast for the eyes as a flock wheels over you.

- Trevor Waller