Yellow-Tailed Black Cockatoo Fact File

Zanda funerea

Weight

750-900g

(26-30oz)

Length

55-65cm

(21.5-26in)

LIFESPAN

Wild – 41 years

Captive – 41 years

DIET

Omnivore

Invertebrates and Seeds

conservation status

IUCN

Lest Concern

A Little Yellow in the Cheeks!

The yellow-tailed black cockatoo is easily recognizable due to the bright yellow cheek patches which contrast highly against the black feathers which cover the rest of their body. Yellow bands are also present on the tail which can be viewed from below when the species is in flight.

Their large hooked bill allows them to break through the outer bark of trees to give them access to insects inside. These are consumed along with a range of seeds.

Monogamous pairs of yellow-tailed black cockatoos work together to form a nest within a tree hollow. Here they will raise a single chick each year which then remains with them for between 12 and 18 months. They will travel through their habitat as a pair or as a part of a flock which can include up to 50 members.

Appearance

What does a Yellow-Tailed Black Cockatoo look like?

As their name would suggest the yellow-tailed black cockatoo is a large species of cockatoo covered almost entirely by black feathers. These body feathers all have a slight yellow edge which is typically not visible until close to them. On the tail are two yellow panels which are present in both males and females. A yellow patch is also present on the cheeks.


They have a large strong beak which is a greyish black color.


This species is sexually dimorphic. Males and females are able to be told apart through the ring around the eye which is pink in males and black in the females. Females also tend to have a larger yellow cheek patch.


An average individual will measure between 55 and 65cm (21.5-26in) long and weigh between 750 and 900g (26-30oz).

Adaptations

How does the Yellow-Tailed Black Cockatoo survive in its habitat?


The large curved beak of the yellow-tailed black cockatoo allows them to break through the outer bark of trees to access wood-boring beetles which are living within.

Diet

What does a Yellow-Tailed Black Cockatoo eat?

The yellow-tailed black cockatoo is an omnivore. They feed on a range of seeds and will also consume wood-boring beetles. Most feeding takes place in the trees but they may look for seeds from ground plants.

Range

Where do you the find the Yellow-Tailed Black Cockatoo?

Australia is the native home of the yellow-tailed black cockatoo. Here they occur along the east coast of the country in the following states, Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia.

Habitat

Where can a Yellow-Tailed Black Cockatoo survive?

This species can be found in forest and shrubland habitats.

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Reproduction

How does a Yellow-Tailed Black Cockatoo produce its young?

The breeding season of the yellow-tailed black cockatoo is long with the exact timing of this varied across their range.

Pairs tend to be monogamous remaining together for several breeding seasons. Should one of the partners pass away they may take another mate.

Yellow-tailed black cockatoos rely on a suitable tree hollow to act as their nest site. Both the male and female will work together to turn the nest hollow in to a suitable nest primarily by lining it with wood chips.

Females conduct all of the incubation duties while males work to find food and supply this to the female. Incubation takes between 28 and 31 days.

While two eggs are regularly laid the second is smaller and this chick is often outcompeted for food by its older sibling and serves as an insurance policy to ensure at least one chick is raised to adulthood. Should neither chick survive the parents may nest again.

Chicks receive care from their parents for up to six months.

Sexual maturity will be reached between 2 and 3 years old.

Behaviour

What does the Yellow-Tailed Black Cockatoo do during its day?

These birds are considered to be shy and when approached tend to fly away.

They live in pairs or a small group made up of family members.

Their call is a gentle creaking sound. When threatened they let out a loud screech. The call is distinctive and acts as a key way to identify the species when they are in the immediate area.

Predators and Threats

What stops the Yellow-Tailed Black Cockatoo from surviving and thriving?

Natural predators of the yellow-tailed black cockatoo include raptors such as the wedge-tailed eagle. Eggs are taken by brushtail possums. Introduced species such as the feral cat and red fox hunt adults while black cats will take eggs.

They must compete for the nest hollows they require to breed against other birds, possums and feral honeybees.

At present the population of yellow-tailed black cockatoos is considered to be stable. The most recent estimate of their population is 25,000 individuals.

Deforestation has affected their ability to find food. Once reliant on native sugar gum woodlands for food the population of these birds in the Eyre Peninsula now rely on introduced Aleppo pines due to fragmentation of their natural habitat.

This species will make use of man-made pine plantations where they can find seeds and also wood boring insects.

Quick facts

Yellow-tailed black cockatoos are one of the six black cockatoo species found in Australia. You can meet some more of them in our fact files linked below.

References

Bird: The definitive visual guide (2022). London, UK: Dorling Kindersley.

Angus, G. (2021) 100 Australian birds. Richmond, Victoria: Hardie Grant Travel.

Pizzey, G., Knight, F. and Pizzey, S. (2012) The field guide to the Birds of Australia. Pymble, N.S.W: HarperCollins.

‘Way, S. L. and van Weenen, J. (2008) Eyre Peninsula Yellow-tailed Black-Cockato (Calyptorhynchus funereus whitei) Regional Recovery Plan. Department for Environment and Heritage, South Australia.’

Yellow-tailed black cockatoo (no date) WIRES NORTHERN RIVERS. Available at: https://wiresnr.org/yellow-tailed-black-cockatoo/ (Accessed: January 12, 2023).

BirdLife International. 2016. Zanda funereaThe IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T22684739A93044615. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-3.RLTS.T22684739A93044615.en. Accessed on 10 January 2023.

Yellow-tailed black-cockatoo (2022) BirdLife Australia. Available at: https://birdlife.org.au/bird-profiles/yellow-tailed-black-cockatoo/ (Accessed: January 10, 2023).

Yellow-tailed black-cockatoo (no date) The Australian Museum. Available at: https://australian.museum/learn/animals/birds/yellow-tailed-black-cockatoo/ (Accessed: January 12, 2023).

Yellow-tailed black-cockatoo (no date) Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoo | BIRDS in BACKYARDS. Available at: https://www.birdsinbackyards.net/species/Calyptorhynchus-funereus (Accessed: January 12, 2023).

Raki, M. (2019) Yellow-tailed black cockatoo, Moonlit Sanctuary. Available at: https://moonlitsanctuary.com.au/yellow-tailed-black-cockatoo/ (Accessed: January 12, 2023).

Yellow-tailed black cockatoo (no date) Australian Government. Available at: https://parksaustralia.gov.au/booderee/discover/nature/birds/yellow-tailed-black-cockatoo/ (Accessed: January 12, 2023).

Love Cockatoos? Meet more in our fact files below.

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