Local government gives baby birds a home!

Just because local government has to cut down some of its native trees, doesn’t mean that a good outcome can’t come as a result!

This week’s blog article is a good news story about the recent arrival of a baby Forest Black Red-tailed Cockatoo named Stirling. Please meet Stirling:

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Welcome Stirling! The latest ball of cockatoo fluff (Source: City of Stirling)

The little cockie is named after the local government (the City of Stirling) which gave its mum a beautiful, viable tree hollow perfect for feeding and nesting courtesy of the good people at Native Animal Rescue.

Native Animal Rescue is a not-for-profit organisation based in Perth dedicated to the rehabilitation and release of sick, injured, orphaned and displaced native animals. The organisation is also involved in leading-edge conservation programs state-wide and continuously collaborates with Councils, Governmental Departments and Universities to develop and maintain rehabilitation strategies. In this case – facilitating the reuse of viable tree branches and trunks as potential habitat and nesting sites for native birds.

The back story to Stirling’s arrival goes that a Conservation Officer at the City of Stirling, who also volunteers at Native Animal Rescue, recognised the value of a dying Marri tree which had to be cut down due to safety issues. Particularly given that native birds are known not to take to man made box hollows nearly as well as native tree branches. The Officer arranged for two nesting hollows in the tree to be donated to Native Animal Rescue as well as the Kaarakin Black Cockatoo Conservation Centre, which were subsequently used for the Endangered Black Cockatoos breeding program.

Mum – a ‘friendly’ cockatoo who was originally brought in with an injured wing and unable to be released back into the wild – claimed the new hollow as her own, and after several boyfriends (we’re told) finally found herself a mate, resulting in the arrival of the organisations FIRST Forest Red Tail Black Cockatoo chick! Hatched on the 7th July 2016 the chick is now two weeks old and both mum and Stirling are doing fine.

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Stirling, getting ready for a feed (Source: City of Stirling)

The City of Stirling are to be commended for being one of too few local governments with the passion and expertise for working towards preserving the habitat and biodiversity of its native wildlife. Even small examples such as this play an important contribution to protecting our endangered creatures, which are continually under threat as Perth-Peel continues to grow and existing habitats are removed.

A recently commissioned Population Viability Analysis of the endangered black cockatoo by State Government, as part of its draft Perth and Peel Green Growth Plan, has suggested that half of the remaining Carnaby’s Black Cockatoos (close cousins to the Forest Black Red-tailed Cockatoo of Stirling’s ilk) would be wiped out under land-use plans to meet the Perth-Peel region’s population growth over coming decades.

The plan proposes ways to cut red tape by obtaining Commonwealth environment pre-approvals and fast-tracking state environment approvals for developments which will be required to support the population growth.

However, the draft plan also includes several offsets to protect the Carnaby’s Black Cockatoo, including a minimum 116,000 hectares of new conservation reserves which would contain Carnaby’s habitat, as well as the replanting of 5,000 hectares of pines and the creation of 700 artificial nesting hollows. Although a number of wildlife and environmental experts point out that despite the offsets, there would be a net loss of Carnaby’s habitat, and that did not meet legislative requirements to maintain “available habitat comparable [or improved] to present conditions” for the long-term viability of species.  In addition, it will take at least 10 years for replanted pines to mature to the point where they are viable as a food resource for birds.

Last year, Birdlife Australia’s Great Cocky Count found the minimum number of Carnaby’s Black-Cockatoos ever recorded in the Greater Perth-Peel Region (5,518 birds), and a continued decline of about 15% each year over the previous seven years.

So will the Government’s modelling be proved correct and will we see a 50% decline in Carnaby’s Black-Cockatoo population by 2050? Are we as a society prepared to accept that as a cost of population growth? What else will we lose as part of the process?

We shall soon discover the outcome in our lifetimes whether the plan was up to scratch.

But in the mean time, let us rejoice in this week’s good news story as we celebrate one more addition to some of the most beautiful and iconic birds of south west Western Australia. May Stirling live a long and charmed life, full of Snottygobble and Marri seeds, and find his/her own mate one day to continue the family tree (so to speak)!

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Forest Red-tailed Black Cockatoo (Calyptorhynchus banksii naso) (Source: http://museum.wa.gov.au/)

A big thank you to the City of Stirling for providing us with this story.

If you would like to find out more on Native Animal Rescue and how to support them, please visit their website: