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A first encounter for me of a Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo, and this one was female (males have a black bill, and juveniles duller plumage). I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw her, because they are usually screeching overhead and are very difficult to approach, or so I thought. I walked right past her on the track, and it was only that I stopped for a moment that I heard an odd noise, like a snapping sound, that I turned around and there she was... systematically destroying this young tree! Just moments before this I had found a branch on the track that had been gnawed (last photo). I didn't know who the culprit was, but the pennies soon dropped! These birds are very fond of the larvae of tree-boring insects, such as the longhorn beetle (Tryphocaria acanthocera), and cossid moth (Xyleutes boisduvali), and they are sometimes considered a pest as they can cause damage in pine and eucalyptus plantations by weakening stems through gouging out pieces of wood to extract insect larvae. The references prove loads of information on the species.
Spotted on the Mt. Mathieson Trail in a section of subtropical rainforest and wet sclerophyll forest, at Mt. Mathieson, Spicers Gap. This area forms part of Main Range National Park, and is included in the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area. Massive fires have recently burnt through this area, and many of the largest trees have burnt and fallen, opening up the canopy and exposing many of the smaller trees and shrubs to direct sunlight. I'm wondering if this is linked to this bird feeding so close to the ground? Recent rains have also seen an explosion in moth and butterfly numbers.
The second reference (Birds in Backyards) has a recording of the bird's call. This is my usual experience with these birds, and to see a wild bird up close has never happened prior to this encounter. Only a few minutes before spotting this bird, another was moving ahead of me as I proceeded along the track, screeching raucously as it flew between the treetops. I have never expected anything more from black cockatoos!
Lat: -28.07, Long: 152.43
Spotted on Mar 14, 2020
Submitted on Mar 14, 2020
and 4 other people favorited this spotting