Helping out the Carnaby’s Black-Cockatoo

Alex Hams (Reserve Manager)
Published 26 Nov 2020 
about  Monjebup Reserves  

Proteaceous species seedlings ready to plant. Photo by Alex Hams<br/> Proteaceous species seedlings ready to plant. Photo by Alex Hams
Carnaby's Cockatoos captured by camera trap on Monjebup Reserve.<br/> Carnaby's Cockatoos captured by camera trap on Monjebup Reserve.
Carnaby's Cockatoo in a Grevillia. Photo by Jack Mercer<br/> Carnaby's Cockatoo in a Grevillia. Photo by Jack Mercer
A Hakea in the reveg with nuts chewed open by cockatoos. Photo by Alex Hams<br/> A Hakea in the reveg with nuts chewed open by cockatoos. Photo by Alex Hams
Digging a hole to plant in.<br/> Digging a hole to plant in.
A freshly planted seedling.<br/> A freshly planted seedling.

Walking through the 400 hectare native revegetation site established at Monjebup Reserve in the Fitz-Stirling landscape, I can hear the shrill calls of a flock of Carnaby’s Black-cockatoos (Calyptorhynchus latirostris). Carnaby’s are large and long-lived birds (40-50 years) and are considered endangered under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

These shrill calls are music to my ears - a reward for the effort gone into the planting of proteaceous species that Carnaby’s favour for food. The kwongan heath vegetation complex, endemic to the south-west corner of Australia and predominantly made up of proteaceous and myrtaceous species, is a critical part of the Carnaby’s diet and is relatively scarce following significant clearing of this landscape for farming in the 20th century.

Bush Heritage’s efforts to connect remnant patches of bush in the fragmented but ecologically diverse landscape between the Stirling Range and Fitzgerald River national parks have been given a boost.

Funding support from Loro Parque Fundación has enabled the planting of 10,000 seedlings over two years on our Monjebup Reserve.

These seedlings, predominantly Banksia (including Dryandra species), Hakea and Grevillea species, have been carefully selected for their production of flowers and seeds favoured by the Carnaby’s Black-Cockatoo.

As I listen to the calls of these large, majestic birds, I am inspecting some of the 6000 seedlings that have been propagated and recently planted in amongst our revegetation to enhance the Carnaby’s foraging habitat (the remaining 4000 will go in the ground next year). Recent rains have helped the seedlings to establish, with new shoots emerging since they were planted in September.

Some of the seedlings planted four to five years earlier already show signs of having been foraged by Carnaby’s. One of their favourite foods, the nuts of the Cauliflower Hakea (Hakea corymbose) have been chewed to remove the seeds. These plants are so prickly you need welding gloves to handle them, but the Carnaby’s don’t seem to mind as long as they get their favourite snack.

The area these plants are being grown in is part of an important flight path for Carnaby’s heading to and from their breeding grounds in the semi-arid wheatbelt, where large mature Salmon Gums (Eucalyptus salmonophloia) and Wandoo (Eucalyptus wandoo) containing suitable hollows still exist.

As these seedlings grow, I expect there to be many generations of Carnaby’s Black-Cockatoo that will benefit from them. In my mind, that makes this a very special place indeed.

Bush Heritage acknowledges the generous support of the Loro Parque Fundación that made the purchase and planting of these seedlings possible.

Proteaceous species seedlings ready to plant. Photo by Alex Hams<br/> Proteaceous species seedlings ready to plant. Photo by Alex Hams
Carnaby's Cockatoos captured by camera trap on Monjebup Reserve.<br/> Carnaby's Cockatoos captured by camera trap on Monjebup Reserve.
Carnaby's Cockatoo in a Grevillia. Photo by Jack Mercer<br/> Carnaby's Cockatoo in a Grevillia. Photo by Jack Mercer
A Hakea in the reveg with nuts chewed open by cockatoos. Photo by Alex Hams<br/> A Hakea in the reveg with nuts chewed open by cockatoos. Photo by Alex Hams
Digging a hole to plant in.<br/> Digging a hole to plant in.
A freshly planted seedling.<br/> A freshly planted seedling.