New flight on Dudley Peninsula

Adult Glossy Black-cockatoo female feeding on sheoak cone
Adult Glossy Black-cockatoo female feeding on sheoak cone. Photo: Mike Barth

It’s a landmark breeding season for the endangered South Australian Glossy Black-cockatoo (Calyptorhynchus lathami halmaturinus), now found only on Kangaroo Island. For the first time in living memory a chick has been born and fledged on Dudley Peninsula, the ‘head’ of the island.

Glossy chick, 4 or 5 weeks old in hollow on Dudley Peninsula
Glossy chick, 4 or 5 weeks old in eucalypt hollow on Dudley Peninsula. Photo: Mike Barth

The Dudley nest has been closely monitored for the past few months. Senior Ranger Anthony Maguire observed a large nestling at the hollow entrance ready to fledge last week, and parents and fledgling have now left the nesting area.

We have a fledged nestling on the Dudley after more than 20 years of recovery work.

The Glossy Black-cockatoo recovery program of Natural Resources Kangaroo Island, has had remarkable success since threat abatement measures began in 1995, when the number of individuals was estimated at 195. Those measures focused on restoring feeding trees (Drooping Sheoak, Allocasuarina verticillata)  and habitat, and on protecting nesting trees (large hollow-bearing eucalypts).

Dudley Peninsula, which has been largely cleared for farming, has relatively few of large old eucalypts but substantial areas of sheoak have been planted there in the past 15 years.

The number of glossy visitors has been gradually increasing on the Dudley, mainly subadult males from the American River population that aren’t yet up to playing their part in reviving the species.

As well as improving and protecting habitat, the program is keeping nest predators at bay – corrugated iron skirts around tree trucks to keep possums from nest hollows and insecticide strips to ward off feral honeybees.

A glossy peeks out from an artificial nest
A female glossy surveys the scene from an artificial nest. Photo: Mike Barth

However, the rate of nest failures is still high. Program manager Karleah Berris and project officer Mike Barth keep a close eye on the chicks and assess factors that may contribute to nest failures. They check all nests, both natural and artificial,  and at some of them install motion activated cameras that record everything that comes near the nest.

The preliminary pictures are showing Little Corellas and Galahs interfering with nests and nestlings. Karleah and Mike are working to develop management actions to keep them out.

The 2014 annual Kangaroo Island Glossy Black census estimated the population at 350. This year’s census runs each afternoon of 25 September (Middle River area), 26 September (Stokes Bay area) and 27 September (American River and Penneshaw areas). If you’d like to join in to help monitor how well the population is recovering (and get a good look at these lovable birds), contact the Glossy Black-cockatoo recovery team to register. For those who’d like to help year round, the Friends of the Glossies group would welcome you.

And if you see glossy flocks over the next three weeks please also report them.

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