Countdown to Carnaby extinction

Cleared land in Baldivis.
Cleared land in Baldivis.

BirdLife Australia released results of its Great Cocky Count this week, with just 25 black cockatoos spotted at survey sites across the Rockingham and Kwinana region, the lowest on record.

Just two out of 10 surveyed sites in Baldivis, Wellard, Casuarina, Secret Harbour and Wandi, previously home to cockatoos, had occupied roosts.

Across the Perth-Peel region, surveyed populations have dropped by 15 per cent since 2010, with extinction of the native bird a genuine possibility in the next two decades. The cockatoo is found only in south-west WA and feeds in the coastal plain after breeding in the Wheatbelt. Two sites in Baldivis that were home to 346 birds in 2010 were cleared in 2011 and none were spotted at a site in Wandi that had previously recorded 63 birds.

However, there is some good news out of the survey completed in April, with a roost in Casuarina recording a small group of 19 birds, up from just two in 2010.

Only one out of five survey sites in the City of Rockingham recorded birds, with six birds spotted in Secret Harbour.

Extensive clearing of bushland for housing in booming suburbs such as Baldivis, Wellard and Wandi is destroying crucial habitats and food sources for the cockatoo.

BirdLife Australia head of conservation Samantha Vine said the bird’s population was at a tipping point.

‘If this rate of decline continues, we will see Carnaby’s black cockatoos disappear from the Perth region within two decades,’ she said.

State Environment Minister Albert Jacob said while the figures were concerning, a number of factors including drought, car strike and clearing of pines could be causing a decline.

‘A recovery plan for Carnaby’s cockatoos is well-established and brings together organisations’