Call for ACT sightings of rare glossy black cockatoo
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Call for ACT sightings of rare glossy black cockatoo

The ACT government is calling for sightings of the rare glossy black cockatoo as ecologists try to map their distribution and get a better picture of how many of the threatened birds are left in the territory.

The indigenous bird is listed as vulnerable in the ACT and NSW, and is one of the most threatened cockatoo species in the country.

A glossy black cockatoo, which almost exclusively eats cones from dropping she-oak trees

A glossy black cockatoo, which almost exclusively eats cones from dropping she-oak treesCredit:Kerri-Lee Harris

ACT government senior ecologist Greg Baines said glossy black cockatoo sightings were few and far between, but tended to ramp up during winter as the birds entered their breeding season.

"I don't think we've ever got a good handle on how many of these birds are here, but it would only be a handful," Mr Baines said.

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Three glossy black cockatoos sit in a tree.

Three glossy black cockatoos sit in a tree.Credit:Kerri-Lee Harris

"They don't stay in Canberra all year and we don't actually know where our birds come from, but we're coming into the time of year from May to August when they're most commonly observed."

Glossy black cockatoos are considerably smaller than yellow-tailed black cockatoos, and have shorter tails with red or orange-red feathers.

Females have a variable amount of yellow on their necks and head.

Mr Baines said they almost exclusively ate cones from dropping she-oak trees, and unlike the raucous yellow-tailed black cockatoos, tended to sit quietly for hours at a time.

"The crushed cones on the ground tend to be one of the easiest ways to find the birds, but even that can be a rare event," he said.

Minister for the Environment and Heritage Mick Gentleman called on anyone who spotted glossy black cockatoos in the ACT and surrounding areas of NSW to report the sightings on the Canberra Nature Map website.

Any sightings on the NSW South Coast should be reported using the Atlas of Life in the Coastal Wilderness website.

Blake Foden is a reporter at the Sunday Canberra Times. He has worked as a journalist in Australia, New Zealand and the UK.

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