Drought threat to red-tailed cockatoos

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Subject: Drought threat to red-tailed cockatoos
From: "Val Ford" <>
Date: Mon, 30 May 2005 06:23:26 +1000
In the Age Online this morning.
Drought threat to red-tailed cockatoos
By Penelope Debelle
May 30, 2005

Another drought in southern Australia may further threathen the endangered subspecies of red-tailed black cockatoos - the mascot for the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games.

Recorded numbers of the brilliantly coloured birds, selected as the Games mascot for their striking looks and gregarious nature, marginally improved after a count by Birds Australia identified a record 929 birds in south-east South Australia and south-west Victoria, north of Edenhope.

While the annual bird count by volunteers this year was a record, this was partly because counting methods had improved. The group also was able to gain information from many sightings as the birds congregated in flocks of up to 400 or 500 in the friendly spirit that endeared itself to Commonwealth Games organisers.

But Birds Australia believes the signs for future growth of the population are worrying. "People assume that because it was a good year for sightings, it means the population has increased," said Birds Australia officer Tania Rajic. "But we are conducting flock counts looking at the percentage of males in the population. They seem to have increased quite considerably, which will have a large impact on future population.

The problem for the birds is that they are specialised seed eaters that eat the fruit of only three trees; two kinds of stringybarks and the buloke tree, which is itself endangered.

Ms Rajic said concern with the looming drought was that the remaining bulokes would decline, causing them to produce less or none of the seeds vital for the birds early in the year.

Val Ford

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