Glossy Black-Cockatoo

Noisy squawks or creaky calls; wheezy call-notes. Quieter and less raucous than other black-cockatoos.
Facts and Figures
Research Species: 
Average size: 
Average weight: 
Breeding season: 
March to August
Clutch Size: 
1, rarely 2
33 days
Nestling Period: 
60 days
Conservation Status
Basic Information
Scientific Name: 
Featured bird groups: 
Atlas Number: 
What does it look like?

The Glossy Black-Cockatoo is the smallest of the five black-cockatoos. It has a brown-black head, neck and underparts, with red or orange-red tail panels and an otherwise dull black body. The crest is small and inconspicuous and the bill is broad and bulbous. Adult females have extensive yellow patches on the head and neck and the tail panels tend to be more orange-red with black bars, but may become less barred and more red with age. Some adult males have a few yellow feathers on the head and the males' tail panels tend to be bright red. Young birds resemble adult males but have yellow spotted or streaked breasts, bellies and flanks, with some yellow spots on cheeks and sides of head. Glossy Black-Cockatoos are strongly associated with casuarina stands in wet forests.

Similar species: 

The Glossy Black-Cockatoo may be confused with the Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo, C. banksii, but can be distinguished by having more brownish-black plumage on head, neck and underbody, and dull black body plumage instead of uniformly glossy black plumage. Adult females have much more yellow on head, but lack the yellow spotting over the whole body characteristic of female (and immature) Red-tailed Black-Cockatoos. Both sexes of the Glossy Black-Cockatoo have a much less conspicuous head crest and a shorter, broader, more bulbous bill. Smaller size, less strident contact calls and a marked preference for casuarina habitat further distinguishes the Glossy from the Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo.

Where does it live?

The Glossy Black-Cockatoo is widespread in eastern Australia from Eungella, Queensland south to east Gippland, Victoria, and inland from southern central Queensland through the central west of New South Wales to north-eastern Victoria. There is also an isolated population on Kangaroo Island, South Australia.


The Glossy Black-Cockatoo is highly dependent on the distribution ofAllocasuarina species and is found in woodland dominated byAllocasuarina and in open forests where it forms a substantial middle layer. Often confined to remnant Allocasuarina patches surrounded by cleared farmlands. Requires tree hollows for breeding.

Seasonal movements: 

Present throughout the year in many areas, but may be locally nomadic.

What does it do?

The Glossy Black-Cockatoo feeds almost exclusively on Allocasuarinaseeds: in a particular area, birds may feed only on a single species. It may also sometimes eat wood-boring larvae. Feeds in threes, less commonly in pairs or small groups or in large flocks of up to 60 birds. Tame and easily approached when feeding, they can be detected by the clicking of their bills and the falling debris of casuarina cones and twigs.


The Glossy Black-Cockatoo mates for life, with pairs maintaining their bond all year round. The female prepares the nest hollow and incubates the eggs, only leaving the nest to feed herself after the newly hatched nestling is a week old. Males feed the female and nestling throughout the incubation and brooding period. Once fledged, the young bird is fed by both parents for up to four months and remains with them until the next breeding season.

Living with us

The Glossy Black-Cockatoo's populations have declined, with local extinctions and range contractions. This is because of land clearing practices that have removed food sources and nesting sites. More frequent and intense fires in south-eastern Australia since European settlement have also reduced suitable habitat. Both grazing, which suppresses casuarina regeneration, and forestry practices that remove casuarina have also contributed to declines. Chicks and eggs have been collected for the aviculture industry and, on Kangaroo Island, chicks and eggs may be eaten by possums. The subspecies C. l. erebus of eastern Australia is considered rare, while the Kangaroo Island subspecies, C. l. halmaturinus is endangered.

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