The Carnaby’s Black-Cockatoo (Calyptorhynchus latirostris) is endemic to the south west of Western Australia, where it spends the cooler months breeding in the Wheatbelt, and the warmer months in coastal areas. Despite its relatively large range, it is classified as Endangered. Sadly, its suitable breeding and feeding habitat have been lost due to land clearance and its numbers are declining at a 10% rate per year in some regions.
The Great Cocky Count is an annual census of WA’s Black-Cockatoos, coordinated by BirdLife WA. Volunteers are allocated sites between Geraldton and Esperance, where they count Black-Cockatoos as they arrive at their nightly roosts. This happens on a single evening in April. The data collected is used to help understand and protect the remaining populations of Black-cockatoos.
In spring, BirdLife WA coordinates Carnaby’s Black-cockatoo breeding surveys. Volunteers play a crucial role, travelling to woodland breeding sites to look for signs of breeding activity, and reporting Black-cockatoo sightings. Recently, BirdLife WA have also started to use the ‘Cocky Cam’, a 16.5m telescopic fibreglass pole with a mounted wireless camera. This technology enables volunteers to peek inside the nesting hollows, and to learn much more about breeding behaviour than is possible from the ground.
Another way BirdLife WA is seeking to protect Carnaby’s is through ‘Voluntary Management Agreements’ with landholders. Under these agreements BirdLife WA agrees to provide financial and on ground support in exchange for land management which protects crucial breeding habitat. Over 4,000 hectares of habitat has been protected through this initiative.