Counting cockatoos for conservation

The initiative, which is supported by the Glossy Black Conservancy and partner agencies including Griffith, aims to learn more about the distribution, habitat use and population of the Glossy Black-Cockatoo. The Birding Day provides community volunteers with the chance to assist in the collection of sighting both birds and their feeding sites across the south-east Queensland and north-eastern NSW regions.

This year marks the third year for the Glossy Black-Cockatoo Birding day after it began on the Gold Coast in 2009, with funding of $90,000 from the Gold Coast City Council.

During 2010 almost 300 volunteers spent the day searching for the Glossy Black-Cockatoo in nine regional council areas. The 2800 hours of search effort was rewarded with sightings of 105 cockatoos with hotspots in the Tweed, Sunshine Coast and Scenic Rim regions.

This year’s Glossy Black-Cockatoo Birding Day will be held on Sunday 22 May and will again seek to enlist the support of community volunteers in the various regions throughout SEQ and north-eastern NSW to assist in counting the species’ numbers.

Dr Guy Castley, senior research fellow from Griffith’s International Centre for

Ecotourism Research said: “The findings from the survey will contribute to existing databases on the distribution of the species, but will also provide further information that ecologists can use to build a better understanding of the patterns of habitat use in the region.

“The surveys provide a snapshot of the relative abundance of Glossy Black-Cockatoos at

a regional level, with the accurate identification of birds also contributing to our understanding of the demographics of this regional population.”

Glossy Black-Cockatoo are less gregarious than their Yellow-tailed or Red-tailed cousins and tend to travel in small groups of two or three. They are the smallest of the black cockatoos. Males have bright red panels on their tail feathers but do not have the prominent crests seen in other species. The females also have characteristic patches of yellow feathers on their heads.

Members of the public who are interested in participating on the day should contact the regional coordinator of the event in their area. Regional coordinator details can be obtained via the Glossy Black Conservancy website. (

Once registered, participants will then receive further details about survey locations, survey protocol and also how to identify the Glossy Black-Cockatoo against other similar species.

Participants on the Gold Coast are encouraged to attend a workshop that will be co-hosted by Gold Coast City Council prior to the actual birding day.

Workshop event details:

– Wednesday 18 May at the Nerang Bicentennial Hall at Gold Coast City Council’s premises along Southport-Nerang Road / Price Street. 6pm-8pm. Light refreshments will be available.

– There will also be an additional field session on Saturday 14 May at the Hinterland Regional Park, Hardy’s Road, Mudgeeraba. 9am until 11am.

– Contact Dr Guy Castley on email: [email protected] or tel: 5552 8918 for more details.

– Members of the public can also start looking for and recording these birds immediately. Any sightings can be reported using an online reporting tool on the conservancy website (

Glossy Black-Cockatoo Birding Day details:

– Sunday May 22. From dawn through to dusk. This will be held at natural bushland and peri-urban landscapes throughout southeast Queensland and northern NSW. Historical sighting records provide a starting point for identifying survey areas. Known feeding (she-oak habitat), roosting (Eucalypt woodland), or drinking locations on both public and private lands will be targeted. Survey grid cells of 1km² will be identified and assigned to volunteers but interested observers can also survey their own properties if Glossy Black-Cockatoo are known to frequent these areas.

– Register your interest with the regional coordinator in your area. For more details visit the birding day pages online at