Red-tailed black cockatoo

Calyptorhynchus banksii

The Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo has an erectile crest which forms an obvious helmet when raised and pushed forward. The male is glossy black with bright red panels in its tail. The female has duller plumage and has yellow spots on head, neck and wings. Her underbody is barred a pale orange-yellow and her tail has orange-yellow panels, barred black. 

The Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo is found in a range of environments, mainly in Eucalyptus forests or woodlands and often in adjacent areas of woodlands or shrublands, and can also be found in grasslands and farmlands. They generally feed in flocks but sometimes just two or three birds are observed eating seeds from eucalypts,  favourites are casuarinas, acacias and banksias, but they also eat fruit, berries, nectar, flowers and sometimes insects and larvae.

Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo nest in deep hollows that have formed in very large, dead or live  old eucalypts. Some of these trees are more than 200 years old and in many cases ringbarked over 100 years ago to improve pasture. Legislative changes have been introduced across the Red-tail range to protect these trees. Hollow trees benefit lots of birds, mammals and insects that are beneficial to farmers because they eat agricultural pests. Where possible it is of great benefit to retain them.

Most nest sites are found in Red Gums (Eucalyptus camaldulensis)  Stringybark (E. baxteri and E. arenacea), Manna Gums (E.  viminalis) and Yellow Gums (E. leucoxylon). Hollows  can be in a trunk, end of a dead branch or in a stump. The female incubates the eggs while the male feeds her.

There are 5 subspecies of Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo in Australia.  The South-eastern Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo (Calyptorhynchus banksii graptogyne) is only found in south-east South Australia and south-west Victoria. With an estimated population of about 1500 birds, the South-eastern Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo is in danger of extinction.

Main threats to this cockatoo are habitat modification and clearing for agriculture or forestry.

These birds are known to nest in artificial nesting hollows made by mounting natural hollows, rescued from fallen trees. Protecting trees with hollows, encouraging natural regeneration and planting for the future will help to ensure that Red-tailed Black-Cockatoos have access to suitable nest trees both now and in the future.

Reference:

Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo Recovery Project

Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo – The Australian Museum