Black from the brink: new glossy census reveals island population remains stable after bushfire

News article |

A wide-ranging search for glossy black-cockatoos across almost 50 Kangaroo Island properties has found a stable population, despite much of the endangered bird’s habitat being burned in the 2019/20 Black Summer bushfires.

Black from the brink: new glossy census reveals island population remains stable after bushfire

A team from the Kangaroo Island Landscape Board and a huge volunteer contingent counted 453 glossies this September, almost identical to the 454 recorded in 2020.

Project Officer Karleah Berris said 33 volunteers contributed more than 150 hours to help the count.

“This was a huge effort from the community,” Ms Berris said. “We searched for glossies on more than 48 properties across Kangaroo Island over a three week period, and all of our landholders were wonderfully accommodating to help us access where we needed to be on particular days.”

Ms Berris said it was encouraging to see stable populations along the North Coast post fire, where some flocks have had more than 90% of their feeding habitat burnt.

“However, it seems juvenile survival along the north coast is a little low once they leave nests. We had very good numbers of young fledge from Stokes Bay this year, but very few had survived to the census unfortunately.

She said an eastern flock is continuing to increase. “This is our eastern expansion area, and we now have lots of breeding each year on the Dudley Peninsula in Penneshaw, and American River continues to be our second biggest nesting area.

Black from the brink: new glossy census reveals island population remains stable after bushfire

“We saw lots of young from this year about and it appears there is good survival after fledging here. I’m sure the residents of Penneshaw and American River have heard their squawking! The Eastern flock is heavily reliant on nest boxes for nesting as there is very little natural tree hollow habitat out east. We maintain 25 nest boxes across American River and Dudley Peninsula. All nest boxes in American River were used in 2023, and 60% of nest boxes on the Dudley were used.”

It is believed that the large fluctuations in the small Southern and Cygnet flocks is due to movement between these two areas.

“Individuals that nest at Parndana Conservation Park sometimes head downstream after nesting (hence are in the Cygnet Flock), but other times head south. It looks like this year and last year they have headed south and we have picked up their band numbers at Murray’s Lagoon.

“Staff from the glossy black-cockatoo project would like to extend our thanks to the volunteers who came out with us and helped make this census possible.”

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