Campus is a cockatoo haven

Murdoch Uni sustainability officer Leah Knapp.
Murdoch Uni sustainability officer Leah Knapp.

And the future of the also threatened forest red-tailed black cockatoo, whose call is more like a creaking rusty gate, is no better as the traditional food sources, roosting and nesting habitats of both species decline every year, mainly due to land clearing and development.

Agreeing with the dire findings of the 2014 Great Cocky Count report released last week, Murdoch University sustainability officer Leah Knapp said Birdlife Australia had identified the South Street campus as a critically important habitat for the cockatoos after volunteers counted more than 400 on April 6.

The report said an analysis of Carnaby’s roost counts found declines in both the occupied roosts and flock sizes from 2010-2014 equated to an estimated 15 per cent annual decline of the birds on the Perth-Peel Coastal Plain.

Among the top 10 roosts on the plain were sites near stands of maritime pines (Pinus pinaster), which still exist from plantations established in the 1930s, as the easy-to-skin seeds provided a high-energy diet.

At Murdoch, 234 Carnaby’s and 199 forest red-tails were counted, with the latter being the metropolitan area’s highest tally.

Ms Knapp said the university had planted banksias and various eucalypts to attract black cockatoos.

‘We have received grants to purchase and install nest boxes and two forest red-tailed black cockatoos have successfully been hatched in them,’ Ms Knapp said.

‘We’ve also identified the areas where the birds roost and are working to protect them in the long term.’

The 2014 Great Cocky Count co-ordinator Hugh Finn said the South Street Campus was a vital refuge for the threatened birds.

‘Here they find food, water and a safe place to roost at night,’ he said.

‘The forest red-tailed black cockatoos even breed in the artificial nest hollows installed on campus.’

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