Black Cockatoo chick leaves the nest

My friend in Kelso who invited me to visit the Tawny Frogmouth a while ago and has spotted 75 species of birds around the house to my 50 got in touch a week ago about a Red-tailed Black Cockatoo chickĀ (Calyptorhynchus banksii), saying, “Come and watch the mother feeding it,” etc, and we visited him today for the purpose.

The nest, in a tree hollow as usual, was visible from the back of the house and when we arrived about 3.30 the chick was sitting up, waiting for food:

Black cockatoo chick
Waiting patiently

Waiting for more food, actually, since the mother had dropped by soon after 3.00, earlier than usual, to feed him. She didn’t come back immediately, so we had a cuppa while waiting and watching; she still didn’t come back, so we walked around to the front of the house to see and photograph the resident Mopoke in the cluster palm; she still didn’t come back, so we found the resident curlews for a photo; she still didn’t come back, but a pair of Crested Hawks visited trees between us and the nest; she still didn’t come back, but Agile Wallabies lolloped along the fence-line … and she came back!

Pacific Baza aka Crested Hawk
Agile wallaby
Agile wallabies in evening light
Black cockatoo adult and chick
At last!

When she did, she landed at the nest but didn’t feed the chick. After a minute or two, she flew off again to join her mate in a tree about 40 metres away, and both of them called repeatedly from there. The chick called back and tentatively emerged from the nest before taking its courage in both wings and flying for the first time, straight to them!

Black cockatoo chick
Emerging from the nesting hollow
Black cockatoo chick
First wing-beats!

By this time the light had almost gone so my last shot of the chick is technically poor but it’s so evocative that I’m going to include it anyway.

Once the chick takes flight, the nest is abandoned. It may be used again next season by the same pair, or other parrots (or perhaps a possum) may take over the lease. Housing stocks are low in human-dominated areas, because suitable hollows are only formed in old trees (see this fact sheet for more) and we have a selfish habit of knocking down trees that are no use to us.

Black cockatoo chick
Flying into a wider world

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