Perth community can help save Carnaby’s cockatoo

Endangered Carnaby’s cockatoos are adapting to urban life in Perth suburbs. And new research has shown how the community can help save them by creating cockatoo-friendly suburbs.

A world-first study used satellite technology to track the wild cockatoos, which are found only in Australia’s south-west and are often spotted in the suburbs of Perth.

Dr Christine Groom of the University of Western Australia attached satellite devices to 23 of the distinctive black cockatoos to track their movements around Perth.

She discovered that they travel about 5.5km from night roosts to forage every day and can fly up to 70km between night roosts.

She is encouraging people to create cockatoo-friendly suburbs by growing food plants in gardens, planting roosting trees around recreation areas, and providing water sources.

Carnaby’s cockatoos are in decline, largely because of a loss of habitat on the Swan Coastal Plain and elsewhere.

Citizen science project the Great Cocky Count estimates the population in urban areas has dropped at least 10 per cent per year for the last six years.

Christine hopes planting cockatoo favourites such as candlestick banksia and liquidambar in backyards, schools, or anywhere there is space, will help ensure Carnaby’s cockatoos grace Perth skies for decades to come.

Carnaby’s cockatoos are adapting to life in Perth’s suburbs, but their numbers are in decline. Credit: Christine Groom