Black Cockatoos

The usual white (aka sulphur crested) cockatoos are everywhere around here, but every now and then we get a flock of black ones come through, and they are so much cooler. They’re bigger, they have a neat call, and of course they dress in black. In fact their scientific name, psittacus funereus, is because George Shaw, who named them, thought they looked as though they were heading to a funeral. There are several types of black cockatoo around Australia, including the red-tailed and the huge palm cockatoo plus a variety of lesser-known species, but the ones we see are the yellow-tailed black cockatoos. As well as the yellow panel on their tails they also have yellow patches towards the rear of their heads.

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They tend to fly around in couples as above, sometimes also with their young, and often as much larger groups like below.

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This was part of a much larger flock, easily over 30, that came through the pine trees up on Aqueduct Trail near us. Happily I had my camera with me with a slightly longer lens than usual and managed to get some pics.

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They hung out in the pine trees, grabbing pine cones, stripping them of their seeds and making quite a racket as they did so – they’re not quite as raucous as the sulphur crested cockatoos, but they do squawk a bit as well as making their cool wailing noise.

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Eventually they made so much noise they set off a local family of kookaburras, and it did sound a bit like world war three with the two sets of birds trying to out-do each other.

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Another time we saw a smaller flock in the depths of Toolangi. I had my longest lens, but it was an overcast day and pretty dark under the canopy, and we couldn’t get very close to them, so it was tricky to get any good shots:

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Lastly this isn’t the greatest shot technically, but it makes the large beak very clear, and you can see the tail feathers are getting a bit lacy on this one.

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So there we have my favourite goths of the bird world. We don’t see them that often, but they’re always a welcome sight when they do turn up. Now excuse me while I go and put some Sisters of Mercy on for them…

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