25 September 2023

Cockatoos teaching people to talk

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More than 100 enthusiasts, landholders and community members spent a weekend earlier this month learning the language of the glossy black-cockatoo on the Southern Highlands as part of the Office of Environment and Heritage’s Saving Our Species program.

Threatened Species Officer at the Office, Lauren Hook said the events were part of the Glossies in the Mist project which aimed to secure the future of the vulnerable glossy black-cockatoo.

“We had a great community turnout across the Great Western Wildlife Corridor between Bullio and Bungonia,” Ms Hook said.

“We learnt to ‘speak glossy’ from bioacoustic monitoring expert, Daniella Teixeira from the University of Queensland, whose work involves fitting sound recorders to trees where glossy black-cockatoos are nesting.”

She said that by collecting and observing bird sounds, Ms Teixeira had developed a way of interpreting their calls that are associated with breeding behaviour.

“She can even pinpoint from the recordings when a fledgling has left the nest, which is a sign of a successful breeding cycle,” Ms Hook said.

“This audio research is extremely valuable as it doesn’t disturb the birds, it’s a less invasive way of monitoring them.”

She said there was a lot already known about how glossy black-cockatoos feed in the area but little was known about their breeding.

“By teaching local landholders the subtle differences between glossy vocalisations, we hope to encourage more accurate reporting of breeding birds.”

She said a big part of the Glossies in the Mist project was about asking landholders to report breeding behaviour in the wildlife corridor to better manage these areas and monitor breeding events.

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