Yellow Tailed Black Cockatoo behavior

To: "Iain Woxvold" <>
Subject: Yellow Tailed Black Cockatoo behavior
Date: Fri, 13 Dec 2002 12:41:04 +1100

I find this a fascinating topic, and would like to know if anyone else has any stories of observing such behaviours?

I think the natural world  is generally full of this type of 'behaviour' in both animal and plant species  (and insects) and probably is a contributing factor in hybridisation and 'natural selection'.

 I believe that life will work together "if it has to" to ensure the flourishing and continuation of gene pools.

For example, most birds are territorial and would not share a nesting site with another bird let alone another species. However, if due to some factor conditions change (environmental factors, human intervention etc) and only a couple of suitable sites for nesting are left, then perhaps two species will cooperate and share nesting sites. After long term co-habitation, perhaps they may get use to each other and begin breeding with each other, or perhaps they have to breed when numbers are severely affected.

One extraordinary example of cooperative life cycles is the ageing of several gum trees.  I've noticed that when some species of gums trees reach a certain age, they start forming thorn-like structures up the trunk, usually over the bottom third of the tree.  Once the tree has died back and becomes hollow, (either in the trunk itself, or with numerous hollow branches,) it becomes a nesting site for birds, and the thorns sharpen with the hardening of the tree.  The thorns up the trunk act like the plastic girdles us human put around trees to stop land based predators from raiding the  nests.   Once the birds finally reach maturity, they fertilise the flowers the trees produce and the cycle begins again!  

Nature is truly a marvel!!!


Note: These are just my observations, some may be interested, some may not.  I have no scientific evidence or hard data to back up anything i have wrote here and most statements made are just as an illustration of my opinion.  Some statements i've made may be down right wrong....but i hope you may be able to see where i'm coming from.  I welcome criticism.      

"Iain Woxvold" <>
Sent by:

13/12/2002 12:05 PM

        Subject:        Re: [BIRDING-AUS] Yellow Tailed Black Cockatoo behavior

Hi Penn,

Nice bit of behaviour.
Seemingly 'altruistic' activities exhibited by birds have been the source of
much inquiry since about the 1920s. Most investigations concentrate on
cooperative breeding, where a bird provides parental care to an animal that
is not its own genetic offspring. Much of this behaviour has been explained
by the observation that the helper is often closely related to the bird it's
helping to raise, thereby gaining genetic benefits, just as a real parent
does. In addition, unrelated helpers can often expect a higher probability
of future benefits, such as access to matings (not too unrelated) or
territorial resources.

So it seems true altruism is difficult to find (sigh), and most animals
considered engaging in such behaviour are thought to have been duped, like
many birds rearing obviously unrelated cuckoos. One great early photograph
(1920s?) shows a bird feeding a goldfish in a pond!

But who really knows what was behind the rosella's action? Flock activity
leads to safety in numbers - more eyes to spot a goshawk, etc. - and may
lead to tolerance of otherwise unacceptable behaviour, like pinching candy
from the beak of a baby. On the other hand, preening and cleanliness
can't be understated in the natural world, with birds apparently dropping
from trees due to parasite overload. Perhaps everyone's a winner.


>From: Penn Gwynne <>
>To: Birding Aus <>
>Subject: [BIRDING-AUS] Yellow Tailed Black Cockatoo behavior
>Date: Wed, 11 Dec 2002 18:33:18 -0800 (PST)
>Dear Mark and Allan, and all very learned ladies and gents of this list,
>could you help me please?
>For some time now I have been lucky to have live near to my home a family
>of Yellow Tailed Black Cockatoo, always a pleasure for me to see these
>They excite my passion in birds and birding no end.
>Lately they seem to have attracted a hanger on, so to speak. He's an
>Eastern Rosella, that seems to enjoy living his life with them? early this
>morning I noticed thee most unusual behavior between ER and what I think is
>a young male YTBC from the same family as mentioned?
>I may become wrong about the sex of the young YTBC.
>But what I saw this am stunned me. With the entire family of YTBC's close
>by, the ER decided to help out the young YTBC with his beak cleaning,
>looked like young YTBC had been feeding on some local seeds with a good
>covering over the outside of it's beak, probably caused by this fine scotch
>mist rain we had this am.
>Now is this opportunism? or has the ER performed this task for some time?
>maybe taught by a parent? which is what I strongly suspect?
>Or is this a case of I see my favorite food ... I'm brave, fearless .... I
>can get that food from an astounded by my gall Mum and Dad YTBC? it knew it
>could shock Mum and Dad YTBC? The drought must be hitting French Island eh?
>Your thoughts would be most appreciated.
>Yours Sincerely, John A. Gamblin ... one of the bird nuts they love to feed
>  :^D>>>
>Do you Yahoo!?
>Yahoo! Mail Plus - Powerful. Affordable. Sign up now

Tired of spam? Get advanced junk mail protection with MSN 8.

Birding-Aus is on the Web at
To unsubscribe from this mailing list, send the message
"unsubscribe birding-aus" (no quotes, no Subject line)


<Prev in Thread] Current Thread [Next in Thread>

The University of NSW School of Computer and Engineering takes no responsibility for the contents of this archive. It is purely a compilation of material sent by many people to the birding-aus mailing list. It has not been checked for accuracy nor its content verified in any way. If you wish to get material removed from the archive or have other queries about the archive e-mail Andrew Taylor at this address: andrewt@cse.unsw.EDU.AU