2018 Great Cocky Count records highest number of black cockatoos in greater Perth-Peel region

About 750 citizen scientists took part in this year’s Great Cocky Count in April. Picture: Stella Stewart-Wynne
About 750 citizen scientists took part in this year’s Great Cocky Count in April. Picture: Stella Stewart-Wynne

THIS year’s Great Cocky Count recorded more than 6000 Carnaby’s black cockatoos at one pine plantation roosting site east of Yanchep.

Birdlife Australia released findings of the 2018 Great Cocky Count this week, which involved 750 citizen scientists who counted black cockatoos as they flew in to roost at 416 sites in WA.

The count provided rare good news for the endangered birds, with a report into the findings saying their population had stabilised.

It recorded 20,316 white-tailed black cockatoos across the species range, which was the highest total number recorded in the count’s history.

There were 6226 Carnaby’s black cockatoos recorded at the single roost east of Yanchep out of the 13,145 recorded in the greater Perth-Peel region.

About 65 per cent of the Carnaby’s black cockatoos, or 8072 birds, were associated with the Gnangara pine plantation, highlighting its importance as a roosting area and food resource for the endangered birds.

“It’s an encouraging result, particularly as successive Great Cocky Counts have shown that the population of Carnaby’s around Perth has declined by over 40 per cent since 2010,” Carnaby’s black cockatoo project coordinator Adam Peck said.

“Although it’s good news, we can’t rest on our laurels.

“The long-term decline is still a great concern and shows we need to protect black cockatoo habitat now more than ever.”

There were also 5497 forest red-tailed black cockatoos recorded at 114 occupied roosts during the April count.

The ninth consecutive annual count recorded 5585 white-tailed black cockatoos at 63 roosts in regional areas.

The total count of 20,316 birds was higher than in 2016 and 2017 (16,755 and 17,534 respectively) and more than double the average of 8705 birds in the years 2010-15.

The Alcoa Foundation is partnering with Birdlife Australia to deliver the Alcoa Community Cockatoo Recovery initiative over three years to 2021.

The US$300,000 initiative will support citizen science projects like the Great Cocky Count along with community education campaigns and on-ground habitat restoration.

Alcoa of Australia chairman and managing director Michael Parker said the partnership was a logical extension of work done to understand and protect the cockatoos visiting the State’s jarrah forest, near where it operates.

“This important project is an extension of the focussed commitment Alcoa has to the environment, to biodiversity, and to working with our local communities on the things that matter to them,” Mr Parker said.