November presentation: Documenting the Glossy Blacks

Glossy black. Ian Sanderson

Photo by Ian Sanderson via Flikr

Presentation by Lyn Cole of the Glossy Black Conservancy

Lyn began by informing us why the Glossy Blacks are so vulnerable: it is because they feed on only 2 species of Casuarina, the black she-oak (Allocasuarina littoralis) and the forest she-oak (Allocasuarina torulosa). They hold the cone in the left claw, removing the tiny seeds by bending the head to meet the cone. The seeds are so small and the feeding so complicated that they need to eat all day to get sufficient food. They return to the same tree regularly. They need access to fresh drinking water, morning and night. Lyn brought in examples of each of these cones.

There are 3 different types of black cockatoo occurring in south East Queensland – the Red-tailed black-cockatoo, the Yellow-tailed black-cockatoo and the Glossy black-cockatoo. Glossy blacks are neither glossy nor black. They are the smallest of the cockatoos and move in smaller groups. The female can be identified by the yellow blotches on its head and the male has a brownish tinge on its head. Their calls are quite distinct from the other black cockatoos.

The Glossy Black Conservancy has a website where people can record sightings on a database. They also have an annual birding day when volunteers count the number of bird sightings over various known habitats, such as hotspots at Mt Barney, Duck Creek Road and Macleay Island. These surveys are managed by researchers at Griffith University. Results vary greatly from year to year.

Casuarinas are often regarded as nuisance trees and authorities must be educated as to their value for Glossy Blacks. Stradbroke Island is of particular interest to the Glossy Black Conservancy. The mined area has been rehabilitated with casuarinas and is a habitat for Glossy blacks, which can sometimes be seen drinking fresh water from the culverts. Hundreds of trees have also been planted at Mount Coot-tha, but it is not known if they are frequented by Glossy blacks.

Glossy black-cockatoos breed every two years, laying one or two eggs. There is a breeding pair in captivity at Currumbin Sanctuary. They need large hollow trees for nesting. Council has a policy of removing dead branches (where hollows are found) when they overlap paths and walking tracks. It is now known whether they use nesting boxes which have been provided in several locations.

What can we do to help? People can report sightings to the database and can volunteer to help on Birding Day. School groups and scout groups are doing some plantings to help secure the Glossy Blacks.

More information can be found at


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