Welcome to the News section of the iNSiGHT Ornithology website (https://www.simoncherriman.com.au/). This blog contains updates about various things I've been up to, interesting environmental issues and observations I make regularly while going about my day. It is designed to be fun AND educational, and inspire you about our wonderful natural world. Happy reading!

Thursday, 22 January 2015

CREEC Cockies

This photo is nothing out of the ordinary... but the bird in it is very special indeed. It is a male Kaarak (Forest Red-tailed Black Cockatoo, Calyptorhynchus banksii naso), one of three large and threatened cockatoo species found in south-west Western Australia. I took this photo while taking 10 wonderful children (plus a few super keen parents!) for a bird walk today at the brilliant Canning River Eco Education Centre (CREEC) in Cannington.

We all met bright and early at the centre and began the 'Home Among the Gum Trees' workshop, one of the school holiday activities coordinated by the Nearer to Nature Program. Our group was such a wonderful bunch of young, enthusiastic kids who were so efficient that we finished much earlier than expected, securing the final hinges into place on the last box not long after lunch time. This was obviously meant to happen, because we were later to make an EXCITING discovery!

Not far from the busy cafe and rumbling car park, a beautiful pair of Kaaraks were prospecting for a nest site. Being down by the Canning River (Djaalgarra) on a habitat work, exploring the plants and bird life of the area, we hadn't noticed at first, but as we looped past the picnic tables a grating sound caught my ears. It was the male cockatoo giving a breeding call, and we looked up to see him display flashes of his brilliant red tail at his mate, who was inspecting some large hollow branches in an introduced Sugar Gum. We watched with utter thrill as the pair visited about 3 different hollow spouts, the male 'guarding' his partner and watching on as she looked inside, and chewed around the hollow entrances. Soon it became apparent that the hollows were not deep enough, as the female could not get even half of her body inside. The pair continued prospecting though, and flew to look at the potential of several other trees in search of more hollows.

This behaviour is rarely recorded and as far as I know, there is still only one other site on the Swan Coastal Plain where this species breeds. Plans are underway to install a large cockatoo nest box at this site with the hope that it might encourage breeding. We'd like to say a big THANKS to Nearer to Nature who planned this workshop, the parents and volunteers who helped the day run smoothing, and most important, all the wonderful kids who attended, made some fantastic nest boxes to take home, and were an integral part of an exciting day! Here's a group photo of myself and Gill with a few of the kids who took part in the day.

Six of the 10 children with their completed nest boxes for small parrots.

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