Classification Order Psittaciformes, Family Cacatuidae Scientific Name Calyptorhynchus Funereus Other Common Names N/A
Species Description Birds have a generally brownish-black plumage.
All the feathers are edged with yellow. They have yellow
ear-coverts. The central tail feathers are brownish-black, and the
adjacent feathers are brownish-black with a broad yellow ban, barred
with black. The iris is dark brown and the periophthalmic ring is
flesh colored. The feet are greyish-brown and the bill is dark grey.
The female is similar to the male, but the ear-coverts are a
brighter yellow. The yellow band on the tail feathers is more
heavily spotted. Her bill is horn-colored and the periophthalmic
ring is dark grey. The young look like the female, but males have
duller ear-coverts, whitish-yellow pannels on the tail and greyish
tinge to the bill. They grow to 58cm - 65 cm.
Habitat In the wild, the Black Cockatoo Inhabits the
south eastern and south western corners of Australia and is mainly
found in tall eucalypt forests and pine plantations.
Distribution Native to the south-east of Australia. It is
found from Eyre Peninsula to south and central eastern Queensland.
In some places at least, they appear to have adapted to humans and
can be often seen in many parts of urban Sydney and Melbourne.
Although not particularly common, they are one of the most
well-loved and characteristic birds of southern Australia. They are
usually seen flying at only moderate height. They have particularly
large wings and flap deeply, very slowly, and with a peculiar heavy,
fluid motion. Their loud, eerie wailing calls carry for long
distances, and the combination of sound and silhouette is
Captivity The Black Cockatoo has a need for attention
that far outweighs any of the other cockatoo species, making this an
extremely high maintenance bird and one that is generally not
suitable as a pet. These birds are highly prone to stress in
captivity and often become susceptible to behavioural problems such
as feather picking and excessive screaming.
Summary The cockatoos are generally large to medium
sized parrots, with one species, the Cockatiel, being quite smaller
than the other species. Cockatoos share many features with other
parrots including the characteristic curved beak shape and a
zygodactyl foot, with two forward toes and two backwards toes. They
differ, however in a number of characteristics, including the often
spectacular movable headcrest, the presence of a gall bladder and
some other anatomical details, and their lack of the Dyck texture
feather composition which causes the bright blues and greens seen in
true parrots. Like other parrots, they have short tarsi but strong
claws, and walk with a slow waddle, often using their strong bill as
a third limb when climbing branches. They generally have long narrow
wings used in rapid flight, with speeds of 70 km/h being recorded
for some species. The black cockatoos, however, along with the Major
Mitchell's Cockatoo, have shorted more rounded wings and a more
The cockatoos have large bills which
are kept sharp by rasping the two mandibles together when resting.
The huge bills are complemented by large muscular tongues which help
manipulate seeds inside the bills so that they can be de-husked
before eating. During the de-husking the lower mandible applies the
pressure, the tongue holds the seed in place and the upper mandible
acts as an anvil.
The plumage of the cockatoos is less
brightly colored than that of the other parrots, with species
generally being either black, grey or white. Many species have
smaller areas of color on their plumage, often yellow, pink and red,
and usually on the crest or tail. A few species, like the Galah,
have larger areas of color. In addition to their plumage many
species have brightly colored bare areas around the eye and face,
with the Palm Cockatoo having a large red patch of bare skin across
the face. A few species exhibit sexual dimorphism in the plumage,
with this being most pronounced in the Gang-gang Cockatoo and the
Cockateil. Sexual differences in plumage are more common in the
black cockatoos, but many cockatoos vary slightly in overall size
and weight, with the males being on average larger. The iris color
is often brown in adult females and differs from the black irises
often seen in adult males, but this may not be totally reliable to
identify the gender of a cockatoo.
Behavior: Cockatoos are diurnal, requiring daylight to find
their food. They are not early risers, instead waiting until the sun
has warmed their roosting sites before feeding. The 21 species are
generally highly social and will roost, forage and travel together,
often in large flocks. All species require roosting sites that are
sometimes located near drinking sites, but many species may travel
great distances between the roosting sites and feeding sites.
Cockatoos have several characteristic methods of bathing; they may
hang upside down or fly about in the rain, or flutter in wet leaves
in the canopy.
Calls and Communication: The vocalisations of cockatoos are
loud and harsh. They serve a number of functions, including allowing
individuals to recognize one another, warning others of predators,
indicating individual moods, maintaining the cohesion of a flock and
as warnings when defending nests. The use of calls and number of
specific calls varies by species, some like the Short-billed Black
Cockatoo have as many as 15 different calls, whereas others like the
Major Mitchell's Cockatoo have far fewer. Some species, like the
Gang-gang Cockatoo are comparatively quiet, but do have softer
growling calls when feeding. In addition to vocalisations, the Palm
Cockatoos communicate over large distances by drumming a dead branch
with a stick. Cockatoo species also make a characteristic hissing
sound when threatened.
Diet and Feeding: The cockatoos are versatile feeders and
consume a range of food items. Seeds form a large part of the diet
of all species; these are opened with their large and powerful
bills. Cockatoos may feed either individually or in flocks that
range in size from small to quite immense. The Galahs, corellas and
some of the black cockatoos feed primarily on the ground, others
feed mostly in trees. The ground feeding species tend to feed in
flocks, which can wither feed in tight, squabbling groups where
seeds are concentrated, or in more dispersed lines where the seeds
are less concentrated and more widely distributed.