Tuesday, June 5, 2012

take off

A collision of rare and recovering birds.
From the Sydney Morning Herald last week:
Taronga Zoo is calling on the public to help find three rare red-tailed black cockatoos after they were spooked by four sea eagles during a bird show at 3pm on Monday and flew away, spokesman Mark Williams said.  
"The sea eagles are top-order predators and they live on the harbour. The five black cockatoos in the show, seeing them, flew off. It's a natural reaction. They leave the area where they perceive there to be a risk or threat," Mr Williams said this morning.  
Two cockatoos were found yesterday but three remained missing, he said, adding that there had been sightings in the north shore suburbs of Balgowlah and Castlecrag.

"They can't put trackers on cockatoos because they chew off the little bands," Mr Williams said.
"It's highly likely that we will see these birds back as they regard the zoo as their home so they will be looking to stay in the vicinity, we hope.
"Once they can be sighted, the keepers will go to them and the birds will recognise the keepers ... and they will come down and have food and we'll be able to take them back."
The cockatoos take part in a free-flight show held twice daily at the zoo. They are usually found along Australia's eastern coast but are not common in the Sydney area, he said.

Once you read about what the red-tails feed on, the complications of how we produce food for human consumption always has a huge effect on the animals that live those landscapes. In this case circular irrigation systems mean that remnant Buloke trees are cleared from paddocks. Buloke is a major stable annual food source that only grows in fertile soils which are favoured for agriculture. In that case unfortunately I don't feel so hopeful for the birds.

But perhaps I shouldn't be so negative after all as the flock was spooked by
White-bellied Sea-Eagles, a bird that has only recently returned to Sydney Harbor and has successfully breed several years in a row now. I have never seen 4 W-b Sea-Eagles together, 2 is my record. I wonder if it was the resident pair and some of their juvenile offspring.

UPDATE: I was sitting in the new balcony cafe at the MCA this morning (18/6/12) and saw an adult White-bellied Sea-Eagle being chased over the Sydney Harbour Bridge by two currawongs or raven- I didn't have by bins.. 


  1. It's my first time to see a photo of a red tailed black cockatoo. How beautiful it is! Is the red tailed balck cockatoo native to Australia? I really hope the three birds will soon be found and come back to the zoo.

    Recently, a penguin(humboldt) was found in the Edogawa river and was safely captured. It was the one who had escaped from the Kasai Rinkai Aquarium about two months ago. He must have enjoyed a brief fantasy of freedom!

  2. HI Sapphire, Thanks for dropping by. I will have to google the story of the Humbolt penguin.

    The Red-tailed Black Cockatoo is native to Australia. I have seen a group in mallee country in West Australia, they are the same bird just a different sub-species. Seeing the grow of about 30 fly over me to their nesting trees, was one of the most emotional birding watching moments for me. The sound of their cry is really haunting and you hear it long before you see them. Here is a link to a recording.

    there is also the Yellow tailed black cockatoo, they where quiet common where I grew up, even so when I hear one I stop and listen.