Promising signs for Red Tail Black Cockatoo numbers

INCREASE: Volunteers recorded an increase in Red Tail Black Cockatoo numbers during this year's 'Red Tail Black Cockatoo Count'.
INCREASE: Volunteers recorded an increase in Red Tail Black Cockatoo numbers during this year's 'Red Tail Black Cockatoo Count'.

There are some promising signs for Red Tail Black Cockatoo numbers, with the annual 'Red Tail Black Cockatoo Count' suggesting the vulnerable species population is on the rise.

Volunteers counted a total of 1193 birds in this year's "Great Cocky Count" across the South East region, which is an increase on numbers from previous years.

During the count, several large flocks of the endangered cockatoo were spotted across South East SA and Western Victoria, with more than 170 volunteers taking part.

Sightings were recorded right across the region, including as far north as McCallum, 40km north-east of Keith.

BirdLife's Kelsey Bennett said improved weather conditions this year meant it was easier to hear the birds' calls, which may point to the "substantial" increase from last year's tally of 839 birds.

Although there have been an increased number of sightings, there are only believed to be a few thousand of the birds left.

Kelsey said the species was fighting for its future, with food shortages posing a serious risk to the cockatoo's survival.

"The red tails feed exclusively on three native tree species. So there's two species of stringy bark and then the bull-oak tree.

"So these have been extensively cleared since European settlement, just for things like housing and things like that so there's not really a lot of food for them left," Kelsey said.

People that see Red Tail Black Cockatoo's are encouraged to report their sighting by calling 1800 262 062 or by visiting http://www.redtail.com.au/index.php?page=report-a-sighting