About

Forest red-tailed black cockatoos are parrot-like birds native to southwestern Australia. They are also known as karrak birds, named after the sound of their loud calls. Almost two feet tall, these birds are glossy black with an orange-red band on their tails. Zygodactyl feet (meaning two toes facing forward and two toes facing back) allow cockatoos to climb vertically or walk along branches. Their large curved beaks are used to crack seeds and nuts, and researches can identify which cockatoo species have been in an area from the bite marks left on marri (Corymbia calophylla or red gum eucalyptus) nuts. These birds rely on mature (200 years old or more) marri and jarrah (Eucalyptus marginata) trees for food and nesting sites. Largely sedentary, these cockatoos live in flocks of about 50 birds and rarely venture more than two and a half miles from their roost, though they do break up into smaller groups to feed from sunrise until dusk. They are monogamous and mate for life.

Status

Forest red-tailed black cockatoos have experienced a significant decline in population, disappearing from 30 percent of their native range in the last 60 years. Habitat loss due to widespread logging, fragmentation, and wildfires have reduced their numbers and result in competition with other species for nests in the hollows of old growth trees. These birds are listed as “Vulnerable” under the Western Australian Wildlife Conservation Act and Australia’s Federal Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act of 1999. Community science efforts include “The Great Cocky Count” that monitors known roost sites. Australia’s Department of Parks and Wildlife also encourages people to build and install artificial nest cavities and monitor activity where natural hollows are now limited.

Habitat

Forest red-tailed black cockatoos live in old growth eucalypt forests of southwestern Australia. They usually nest in large hollows of marri, jarrah, karri, and blackbutt trees.

Diet

Ninety percent of this bird’s diet is made up of seeds and nuts from marri trees (Corymbia calophylla or red gum eucalyptus) and fruit from the jarrah tree (Eucalyptus marginata).

Physical_Characteristics

Adult cockatoos typically measure 21 to 23 inches in length and average 21 ounces in weight. Their lifespan averages 25 to 50 years.