Carnaby's black cockatoos

Carnaby’s black cockatoos / ©: John Lauri
Carnaby’s black cockatoos
© John Lauri
The endangered Carnaby’s black cockatoo (Calyptorhynchus latirostris) is one of just two species of white-tailed black cockatoo on Earth. The other is the Baudin’s black cockatoo, and they are both found only in the Southwest Australia Ecoregion.

Did you know?

• Carnaby’s cockatoos pair for life

• When a Carnaby’s cockatoo chick leaves the nest, it is the size of an adult and can weigh even more than its parents

• Males and females can be distinguished by the colour of their beaks: females have white beaks and males have black beaks. Both sexes have a white cheek patch and males have a pink eye-ring

• Between the 1970s and 1990s, Carnaby’s cockatoos disappeared from over one-third of their former range and are now locally extinct in many parts of the central Wheatbelt. The entire population is believed to have halved.

Carnaby's black cockatoo facts

  • Common name

    Short-billed or Carnaby's Black Cockatoo

  • Scientific name

    Calyptorhynchus latirostris

  • Habitat

    Occurs in uncleared or remnant areas of eucalypt woodland, principally Salmon Gum Eucalyptus salmonophloia or Wandoo E. wandoo, and shrubland or kwongan heath dominated by Hakea, Dryandra and Banksia species in the south-west of Western Australia. Carnaby’s black cockatoos are found in south-west Australia.

  • Status

    IUCN: Endangered


Carnaby’s black cockatoo habitat

During the nesting season (roughly July–February) Carnaby’s cockatoos nest in hollow trees in the remaining fragments of salmon gum and wandoo woodlands in the predominately cleared Weatbelt region of WA.

When the chicks are ready to leave the nest, they fly off with their parents to higher rainfall coastal regions for the duration of the non-breeding season (January–August). Here they gather in large flocks, sometimes numbering several hundred birds, which can give the misleading impression that the Carnaby’s cockatoo is a common species.

However, today we no longer see the flocks of several thousand birds that were said to “blacken the sky” as they flew overhead.

Carnaby’s black cockatoo diet

The Carnaby’s cockatoo feeds on the seeds of banksias, grevilleas, hakeas and eucalypts. It has also learned to feed on introduced species, such as wild radish, canola, nut crops and pines, which can bring them into conflict with farmers.

During the non-nesting season, the birds can be seen in banksia woodlands, coastal heath, pine plantations and in remnant bushland parks and gardens in Perth – but for how much longer?