Yellow-tailed black cockatoos calling urban Sydney home

By AG Staff | July 5, 2018

Recent reports have found that populations of yellow-tailed black cockatoos have declined across the east coast, but these resilient birds are establishing a new home in urban Sydney.

A NEW INVESTIGATION by Centennial Parklands and UNSW into the foraging and habitat behaviours of yellow-tailed black cockatoos (Calyptorhynchus funereus) has revealed why these birds have managed to thrive in urban Sydney, despite recent population declines.

Honours student Jessica Rooke tracked 12 individual birds with solar powered GPS transmitters for over a year, observing their movements and habitat use during non-breeding (March – August) and breeding seasons (September – February).

“The breeding and non-breeding phases of their lives, and the availability of their preferred food resources, largely explains how these beautiful birds are able to successfully occupy urban environments like Sydney,” she says.

“We’ve been able to confirm what many have suspected – that pine cones make up a large proportion of their diet, so it’s no wonder why they love visiting Centennial Park!”

Centennial Parklands Ecologist John Martin, who was involved in the surveys, says he was most surprised that the birds remained in close proximity to the city throughout the year.

“We were surprised to find that about a fifth of GPS tracked individuals remained in eastern Sydney throughout the year. During the breeding season, the other individuals dispersed from Sydney, frequently visiting natural habitats for short periods. These distances differed between the sexes, with males ranging up to 154 kilometres, and females up to 76 kilometres,” he says.

According to John, studies such as this provide conservation opportunities and help researchers increase their understanding of species-specific habitat dependencies. John has encouraged people to report any sightings of the yellow-tailed black cockatoos HERE.