Last Sunday my wife and I explored the waterfront reserve at Cook Park which overlooks Botany Bay and the CBD of Sydney. Click on photo to enlarge.
The previous day when walking with friends (without camera in hand) we saw a large flock of Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo eating the seed in the pine cones and Banksia of the many tall trees on the reserve. The Sulfur-crested Cockatoo were also present in another part of the reserve. I knew they would be there tomorrow so after our friends had left we returned the following afternoon with camera in hand.
A large flock of Sulfur-crested Cockatoo had taken over an area under the pine tree forest in the reserve. They were eating from the fallen cones on the grass. These birds are all year residents in the Sydney area.
However, this was the time of year when the not so common Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo move to the coast, and even more so with the drought conditions inland, to feed on the Banksia and pine cones that were now ripe with seed, which the strong beak of the Cockies can extract with ease, by holding the cones with one claw while they eat. However it is said that these two birds are never found in the same place, and what immediately followed showed us why…
It really was a ‘Cockatoo hulabaloo!’ At first we could not work out was was happening, as hundreds of Sulfur-crested Cockatoo with cacophonous screeching alarm were rapidly exiting the pine forest, with the unique sound of the Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo following as they chased the residents out of their forest, which they had ownership of for most of the year. [You may have noticed I am using You Tube to house my video clips as I can get better quality there]
Like a well organised army, the Yellow-tails formed together into a fighter squadron with one intent and purpose, they relocated many of the Sulfur-cresteds into a large eucalypt tree about 200 meters away from the forest.
While some stayed on guard to keep them there, others returned to the forest to continue grazing, from where I shot the rest of this post.
One of several interesting observations was of these two male Yellow-tails and how one decided to challenge the other over the pine cone. This seemed strange considering there were many lying about on the ground as well as in the trees. Maybe it was just plain bullying, but in the end one had to walk away while the other continued eating the prized cone.
My Bird of the Week – The Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo
The Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo is endemic to eastern Australia including Tasmania. It is found in South Australia, Victoria, NSW and south-eastern Queensland, but not in the drier inland and desert regions. They form large flocks in winter where they migrate to more coastal regions from inland forests to feed on the seed from mainly native Banksia, eucalypt gum nuts and native pine cones. There classic sound is easily distinguished from the screech of the Sulfur-crested Cockatoo.
The screech of the Sulfur cresteds can be heard in the background as the alarm call of the Yellow-tailed Blacks is heard. Like other Cockatoos they nest in a deep hollow of an old tree limb, using the wood chips bitten off by the parents as a nesting base for the eggs.
The beautiful tail feature of this magnificent bird is featured above, and is only seen when the bird moves and lands short distances, it is not seen while they are in flight. Only the yellow ear pads and yellow under-tail distinguish them from the Glossy Black Cockatoo in flight.
It was lovely to observe a juvenile Yellow-tailed pictured here between the two parents who are seen showing devoted interest, but soon after leave the bird hoping to distract us away.
It was such a delight for my wife and I as we watched a male and female preen each other. These birds pair for life, as do most other parrots, lorikeets and cockatoos (but not the Eclectus Parrot, it is quite promiscuous).
Another interesting activity which one bird had undertaken, and which all Cockatoos are known to enjoy from time to time, to strengthen their beak, is to chew off or ‘chip’ tree limbs. I once worked with a person who had their whole timber veranda demolished by a flock of Sulfur-crested Cockatoos. I have often seen Cockatoos forming nesting holes in this way at the end of tree limbs.
Most of our time was spent watching the birds feeding from the native Banksia cones, as they extracted the seed, moving from branch to branch.
Their beautiful yellow tails would shine in the autumn sunshine. It was an unexpected blessing for us both to witness all of the above occurrences in one afternoon walk, which was finished off with fish and chips as we watched the sunset, looking out over the bay. This episode highlighted the struggle between the darkness and the light.
“This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.” – 1 John 1:5
“This is the verdict: Light has come into the world [in the man Jesus] , but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light…” – John 3:19,20