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Red-Tailed Black Cockatoo Fact File

Appearance

The red-tailed black cockatoo is a large member of the cockatoo family covered with black feathers across the majority of their body with brownish feathers on the primaries. Males have a patch of bright red feathers in a panel on their tail from which the name of this species is derived. Females lack the bright red color and instead have pale, yellow, yellow-orange or orange-red depending on the race. The females also have yellow spots across the head.


Five separate races of the red-tailed black cockatoo are recognized with each having slight physical differences.


Their beak is grey in males and off white in females with a large curve. This strong beak allows them to break in to seeds and nuts. Both the male and female have a dark brown eye.


On top of the head is a crest of feathers which they can raise. This will be raised as a greeting, in excitement or alarm.


Their body measures between 50 and 65cm (19.7-25.6in) long. They weigh between 650 and 900g (22.7-25.1oz).

Diet

Red-tailed black cockatoos are omnivores. Their diet includes seeds, fruits, berries, grasses, bulbs, insects and larva. Most of their feeding takes place in the trees.


Some populations feed on the ground while others are extremely picky and only eat the seeds of a few trees.

red-tailed black cockatoo

Scientific Name

Calyptorhynchus banksii

Conservation Status

Least Concern

Weight

650-900g

(22.7-25.1oz)

Length

50-65cm (19.7-25.6in)

Lifespan

25-50 years

Diet

Omnivorous

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Range

Australia is the native home of the red-tailed black cockatoo. Here they can be found in Western Australia, the Northern Territory, Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia.


Their range is fragmented with different races being found in different parts of the country.

Habitat

They make their home in forests and shrublands which are mainly dominated by eucalyptus and casuarina trees. In some regional towns and cities they may be found in urban areas.

red-tailed black cockatoo

Reproduction

Breeding has been recorded year round depending on the population and their location across the country.


Courtship involves the male strutting along a branch towards the female with his tail feathers fanned out and crest ruffled up.


Nesting occurs in a tree hollow which is usually in a dead or mature eucalypt tree. This is lined with wood dust, woodchips and splinters. They will enter their hollow tail first.


Into this nest the female will deposit a single white egg. She is responsible for all the incubation of these eggs.


At birth the chick has no feathers but soon develops a coat of downy yellow feathers.


When they initially hatch the female does all the feeding but once they are older the male will contribute to feeding the chicks.


The chicks will fledge at between 10 and 12 weeks old. They remain with their parents after this and may still be fed by them.


Sexual maturity is reached at 4 years old.

Behavior

These birds form flocks which usually are quite small. In northern Australia though some have grown to include as many as 200 birds. They may also be seen in pairs and trios.


They are active by day. A group of red-tailed black cockatoos will spend most of their day feeding before returning to trees along rivers and streams where they will roost for the night.


Flocks of red-tailed black cockatoos move around based on food availability throughout the year.


In flight the members of the flock will call to one another with a high-pitched ‘cree-cree’ call.

red-tailed black cockatoo

Predators and Threats

Humans threaten their population through the clearing of their habitat to create agricultural land. Small numbers may be poached for the pet trade.


Across most of their range the population is decreasing but in some areas they have been able to increase their number due to the expansion of invasive weeds providing a food source.


Their low rate of reproduction makes it difficult for populations to recover after a decrease.

Quick facts

They are also known as Bank’s black cockatoo or the great-billed cockatoo.


Their name Bank’s black cockatoo and the scientific name banksii both reference Joseph Banks, a botanist with Captain Cook.

red-tailed black cockatoo

Photo Credits

Top

By Scarlet23 at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3900827


Middle One and Two

Under License


Bottom

By Jean and Fred from Perth, Australia – Red-tailed Black Cockatoo, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=92471629

References

Morcombe, M., 2003. Field Guide To Australian Birds. Archerfield, Qld.: Steve Parish Pub.


BirdLife International. 2016. Calyptorhynchus banksii. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T22684744A93044811. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-3.RLTS.T22684744A93044811.en. Downloaded on 28 November 2020.


Adelaide Zoo. 2020. Red-Tailed Black Cockatoo At Adelaide Zoo – Meet Our Cheeky Cockatoos. [online] Available at: <https://www.adelaidezoo.com.au/animals/red-tailed-black-cockatoo/> [Accessed 28 November 2020].


Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary. 2020. Red-Tailed Black Cockatoo. [online] Available at: <https://koala.net/red-tailed-black-cockatoo> [Accessed 28 November 2020].


Birdlife.org.au. 2020. Red-Tailed Black-Cockatoo | Birdlife Australia. [online] Available at: <https://www.birdlife.org.au/bird-profile/red-tailed-black-cockatoo> [Accessed 28 November 2020].


Harington, J., 2020. Red-Tailed Black-Cockatoo. [online] The Australian Museum. Available at: <https://australian.museum/learn/animals/birds/red-tailed-black-cockatoo-calyptorhynchus-banksii/> [Accessed 28 November 2020].


Billabong Sanctuary. 2020. Billabong Sanctuary – Australian Native Wildlife Park Townsville. [online] Available at: <https://www.billabongsanctuary.com.au/red-tailed-black-cockatoo/> [Accessed 28 November 2020].


Parrots.org. 2020. Red-Tailed Black Cockatoo (Calyptorhynchus Banksii) | Parrot Encyclopedia. [online] Available at: <https://www.parrots.org/encyclopedia/red-tailed-black-cockatoo> [Accessed 28 November 2020].


PerthZooWebsite. 2020. Forest Red-Tailed Black Cockatoo. [online] Available at: <https://perthzoo.wa.gov.au/animal/forest-red-tailed-black-cockatoo> [Accessed 28 November 2020].


Australia Zoo. 2020. Red-Tailed Black Cockatoo – Australia Zoo. [online] Available at: <https://www.australiazoo.com.au/wildlife/our-animals/red-tailed-black-cockatoo/> [Accessed 28 November 2020].

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