RFI re.Red-tailed Black Cockatoos in SW Vic.

To: birding-aus <>
Subject: RFI re.Red-tailed Black Cockatoos in SW Vic.
From: Lawrie Conole <>
Date: Mon, 12 Jan 2004 14:19:05 +1100
m("","Peter.Fuller");"> wrote:
My grandfather who has lived  at Drysdale on the Bellerine Peninsula for most of his life, said to me the other day that he often gets red tailed cockatoos feeding in his pine trees from time to time. (its a great place for YTBC which can consistently be seen there at the moment).  I'm unsure if these would be red tailed black cockatoos or glossy black cockatoo's, but both are out of range according to simpson and day  - not sure what the atlas says.

Can anyone comment on which species would likely to occur in this area? Being  migrating species as Tony has commented, i guess that both are possibilities?

Hi Peter

As I understand it Yellow-tails (YTBCs) are (i) the only black cockies found in the greater Geelong area; and (ii) YTBCs are the only black cockies in Victoria with the biomechanical means to open cones of exotic pines such as Radiata Pines, i.e. the right shaped beak and ability to open up to a wide enough gape.  Many birders have seen what YTBCs can do with that long strong beak - to tree trunks, banksia and pine cones, etc.  The Red-tail (RTBC) ssp graptogyne is a specialised feeder on the cones of Buloke (Allocasuarina luehmannii) and the fruit of stringybarks (Eucalyptus baxteri and arenacea).  The Glossies (GBC) that occur in far eastern and north-eastern Victoria are, I believe, specialised feeders on the cones of Droopoing Sheoaks (A. verticillata).  Neither RTBCs or GBCs feed on introduced pines in Victoria to the best of my knowledge.

In days of yore (i.e. circa 200 years ago and before), RTBCs of the ssp graptogyne may have ranged across as far east in Victoria as the extensive stringybark forests between Geelong and Ballarat.  There is at least one 20th century record from the Otway Ranges as far as I can recall.  I've come across some circumstancial evidence from Aboriginal faunal vocabulary to suggest that GBCs may have occurred somewhat continuously through the Drooping Sheoak woodlands on the Victorian western district plains (thus just about connecting up with the GBC outliers on Kangaroo Island in South Aus.) at settlement.  However, there is no convincing evidence to suggest that either RTBCs or GBCs occur anywhere in central-south Victoria these days. 

Some YTBCs show a hint of orange in their yellow tail feathers, and I can only conclude that this leads to the odd claimed record of anything other than YTBCs in the centre-south of Victoria.


Lawrie Conole
Senior Ecologist
Ornithology & Terrestrial Ecology
Ecology Australia Pty. Ltd.
Flora and Fauna Consultants
88B Station Street
FAIRFIELD VIC 3078 Australia
E-mail: m("","lconole");">
Ph: (03) 9489 4191; Mob: (0419) 588 993
Fax: (03) 9481 7679
ABN 83 006 757 142

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