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#267 An endangered species comes back

By Cathryn Wellner / February 27, 2012
Black cockatoo

Black cockatoo photo by Lip Kee, via Flickr Creative Commons

A downpour brought cool relief after several hot days here in Anglesea. We watched the storm roll in from our perch on a second-floor verandah of a house right on the Great Ocean Road. Instead of retreating inside, we sat under the overhang of the roof and let the rain tickle our feet.

A small flock of black birds flew by. Their shape was familiar but not the combination of shape and colour. Fortunately, Robin’s son Darren recognized them: black cockatoos.

I was thrilled. On our last visit to Australia, we learned the black cockatoos native to this state (Victoria) were endangered. Though I always hoped to catch sight of them, I never really expected I would.

My first thought, seeing the squarish shape of their heads, the parrot-like beaks, the size, was “black gullahs”. The ubiquitous and cheeky gullahs are also members of the larger parrot family, but they do not come in black.

Loss of habitat in this part of Australia has placed black cockatoos on the endangered list, but it seems they are making a minor comeback. That gives me hope. We humans have such hubris. We figure any square foot of land that has something we value—whether that be minerals, trees or a spectacular view—is ours to exploit without regard to the fauna and flora that call it home.

Black cockatoos are among the losers, though their white relatives thumb their beaks at human folly. While blacks have disappeared, a huge population of whites has munched its way through trees, lawns, and wood siding, denuding the landscape with abandon. The house we’re staying in has areas that are a feast for the cockies. In pursuit of insects, they strip off whole chunks of siding.

So I understand my delight in seeing a small flock of black cockatoos is not shared by those who have lost trees, lawns and siding to their rapacious cousins. Still, I can’t help but be encouraged that a species that was clearly losing out to human invaders appears to be making a comeback.

[Find Anglesea on my uencounter.me map.]

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naomi Baltuck - February 29, 2012

Hi Cathryn, that is so exciting. I remember how thrilled we were when we saw a platypus in the wild. I have no idea whether they are endangered, but it was a very special moment for us. Glad your visit has been so sweet.

    admin - March 2, 2012

    I’ve still never seen a platypus. What a strange and wonderful animal. Seeing animals is high on my list of favourite things.

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