Dining with the Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoo

things to do in carnarvon

There are many amazing things about the Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoo (Calyptorhynchus funereus ). One of these is its ability to find its favourite foods – wood-boring grubs! These are the larvae of beetles and moths which tunnel into various trees such as gum trees and wattles. In this snippet of footage, a male Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoo, uses its massive bill to quickly and effortlessly tear the bark off a Brigalow (Acacia harpophylla) branch. It prises out a grub with surgical precision which it then happily consumes.

I watched this bird for at least 10 minutes. Every time it chewed into a branch it hit the mark, finding a tasty morsel. It only took seconds to locate and extract its next victim. It is said that the cockatoos are able to hear the grubs within the branches. With no other obvious visual clues that borers were present in the subject tree I totally agree with that theory.

This particular bird made short work of the soft bark of the Brigalow tree, but I have also seen them chew through branches of eucalypts up to 15 cm in diameter – this just took the bird a little longer to remove its prize.

Although wood-boring grubs are a favoured food in eastern Australia, these birds will also eat the seeds of a range of native trees and shrubs. They have also taken a likening to the seeds of pine trees grown in plantations.

Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoos are birds of the forests. I feel it is always a treat to see them during our Boobook ecotouring adventures in the Carnarvon Gorge National Park. Here they remain relatively common however it is feared that in other parts of their range they are declining. These long-lived birds are reliant on suitable hollow-bearing trees for nesting – an increasingly scarce resource in many parts of the landscape.

The call of a Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoo, which echoes over vast sandstone ranges and valleys, is to me awe-inspiring and the ultimate sound of freedom. It is my favourite bird call. I hope we can enjoy the calls and antics of this majestic bird for many years to come.

If you are interested in spotting one of these incredible birds in their natural setting, why  not join us on a Discover Carnarvon Ranges tour. Our expert ecologically trained guides are read to take you on an adventure of a lifetime. Find out more by giving us a call on 07 4622 2646 or visit our website.

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