Red-tailed Black Cockatoos

The highlight of Thursday’s stop-over was actually nothing to do with insects but was discovering a pair of Red-tailed Black Cockatoos (Calyptorhynchus banksii, aka C. magnificus) feeding on the fruit of a Sea Almond tree (Terminalia catappa) in the park. The male, distinguished by bright red patches under the tail and pure black feathers around the head, immediately flew up to a nearby power-line but his mate, hungrier or braver, stayed in the tree and from only a couple of metres away I watched her pick a green fruit and munch through the whole thing.

black bird on powerline
Male Red-tailed Black Cockatoo
close-up of bird head with fruit
Female Red-tailed Black Cockatoo with sea almond
black bird in tree
Finishing off the fruit

There’s another photo of a female here, just to prove females do have crests.

There are six species of large black cockatoos in Australia, according to Slater’s Guide, but this is the only one found in North Queensland except for the Palm Cockatoo which is restricted to northern Cape York and, as this photo on Birdway shows, is distinctive enough not to be mistaken for our local species.

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