This evening I saw three pairs of
Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoos at their nesting sites in Blue Gum Swamp, Winmalee. (80km west of Sydney). One pair was accompanied by another bird (probably from a
previous nesting). The male fed the hen which then flew to the nest tree and
backed itself down into the hollow to feed the nestling while the parent male
and the other bird flew to branches close to the hollow and waited for the hen
to emerge. The male parent did not show any aggression towards this other bird.
While this feeding was occurring another pair flew into the area and landed in
a tree about 50m from the other nest site, but they became alarmed at my presence
and flew back up the slope to another tree where that male started to fed the
female. I left the area immediately and after having walked out about 200m I
saw another male feeding a female which then flew to a hollow of a dead Blue Gum.
She watched me and waited at the edge of the hollow as I walked out of her
sight. At the same time three more YTBC flew in from the north, heading up the
creek towards Winmalee. Finally as I started to walk out up the track a single
YTCB flew into the valley calling loudly but by this time it was too dark to
determine its sex. Judging by its behaviour it was possibly a male heading into
its nesting area.
This last spring and summer has unfortunately
not been so successful for Gang-gang Cockatoos. Last October I witnessed a pair
of Sulphur-crested Cockatoos forcibly take over a hollow that had been prepared
by a pair of Gang-gangs. I have not seen any crèches of young Gang-gangs that
were common in previous years after successful nesting.
Sulphur-crested Cockatoos have
almost reached pest proportions in the valley and I wonder if authorities
should perhaps consider culling them or allowing controled
trapping and export.
Glossy Black-Cockatoos were regular
breeders in Blue Gum Swamp up until the 1994 bushfire, but I have not recorded
any breeding since. Nearly all the Allocasuarina littoralis were killed by the
bushfire and regeneration has been very slow. Unfortunately a large stand of
regenerating trees growing beside the track up to Bees Nest Hill were destroyed
last spring by hazard reduction burning. I fail to understand how burning this
area could possibly reduce the risk to houses which would have to be at least
6km away. Allocasuarina torulosa appear to recover from bushfires by means of epicormic and lignotuberous
shoots and are able to produce fruit sooner than seedling A. littoralis.
However there are not very many A. torolusa in Blue
Gum Swamp.The birds appear to need sheoks close to their nesting sites for the
females to feed in before they commence incubating and while they are waiting
for the males to fly in from greater distances to feed them.