Carnaby's Black-Cockatoo

Did you know?

Cockatoos may move along a branch, biting off cones or seeds and green branches for no apparent reason.

Noisy with distinctive "wy-lah" call, with much variation
Facts and Figures
Research Species: 
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Breeding season: 
late July to October
Clutch Size: 
1 - 2
28 days
Nestling Period: 
70 days
Conservation Status
Associated Plants
Plants associated with this species
Basic Information
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What does it look like?

Australia has five species of Black Cockatoos. This cockatoo is also known as the Short-billed White Cockatoo or White-tailed Cockatoo. It is a dull black cockatoo, with an erectile crest and a white cheek patch. There are white panels in the tail. Its bill is large, with a short, wide upper mandible The sexes only differ slightly, with the female having a slightly larger cheek patch and light bill. The male has a dark bill and a pinkish eye-ring.

Similar species: 

The Long-billed Black Cockatoo is very similar, but has a longer upper mandible. 

Where does it live?

This cockatoo is endemic (found only there)   in the south west of Western Australia, mostly in the wheatbelt.


Carnaby's Cockatoos are found in uncleared or remnant native eucalypt woodlands. They need large hollows in tall eucalypts for breeding. 

Seasonal movements: 

They are partly migratory and partly resident. They are sometimes known as the "rain bird" as birds that breed in the drier part of their range move to higher rainfall areas after breeding in summer. The Carnaby's Cockatoo Recovery Project and other research is investigating this seasonal migration and how these birds move through their landscape.

What does it do?

These cockatoos eat mainly seeds of plants from the proteacea family, introduced pines and sometimes nectar, flowers and insect larvae. They mainly feed in trees. They cut off seeds and cones with their strong bills and then hold the food with one foot while they strip the seeds.


Adults return to the same breeding area each year and lay a single or two creamy-white eggs in a hollow in a large, living or dead tree. Only the female incubates and she is fed by the male, though she may leave to get water. She also broods the chicks and the male helps with feeding after about two weeks. Artificial hollows and nest boxes are being trialled to help with conservation of the species. 

Living with us

The range of this cockatoo has contracted greatly, disappearing from a lot of their breeding range as a result of fragmentation or destruction of habitat after clearing for mining, agriculture or forestry. Eggs and young are sometimes taken for pets. Trees with suitable breeding hollows are rapidly being cleared and are in short supply. Research has shown that they need remnants of native vegetation within 12 kilometres of their nesting sites to successfully raise healthy young.

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