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ParrotCalyptorhynchus lathami

Glossy Black-Cockatoo

Glossy Black-Cockatoos (Calyptorhynchus lathami) are one of the more threatened species of cockatoo in Australia and are listed as vulnerable in NSW and the ACT.

Canberra Nature Map and Atlas of Life are working with the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage Saving Our Species program in an ongoing Special Project to map the distribution of Glossy Black-Cockatoos, AND to map the location of suitable nest hollows.

Hotspots for observing Glossy Black Cockatoo’s in the local region include Mt Ainslie, Mt Majura, Rob Roy Range Nature Reserve and the Burra area, but in recent years they have been seen in other areas such as Goorooyarroo, Gossan Hill. Pinnacle and Molonglo Gorge nature reserves. We really want a more comprehensive account of where they are.

Some features to look for in recognising Glossy Black-Cockatoos:

  • Small size ... considerably smaller than Yellow-tailed blacks.
  • Red or orange-red tail feathers. Males have bright red panels in their tails, while females and juveniles have orange-red panels with varying amounts of black barring.
  • Females have variable amounts of yellow on the head and neck.
  • Heavy, rounded beak.
  • Short tail, clearly shorter than Yellow-tailed blacks when seen in flight.
  • Usually seen in pairs or small groups.
  • Soft, wavering call in flight - again, very different to the Yellow-tailed black call

 Where to look for Glossy Black-Cockatoos

Glossy Blacks feed almost exclusively on Allocasuarina fruit (often called 'she-oak cones'), in our area it's occurrence is closely tied to the presence of drooping She-oak (Allocasuarina verticillata) . They feed in trees, never on the ground. 

Small groups will sit quietly, chewing on the fruit, sometimes remaining in the same tree for hours. In fact the squeaking and cracking of their feeding is often the first indication of their presence. Such feasting also leaves tell-tale evidence long after they've gone ... the scattering of torn Allocasuarina fruit on the forest floor is quite diagnostic. 

What to record & photograph

The location, the number of birds (including sex & age - adult/juvenile - if apparent), and their behaviour at the time. Try to photograph the birds - even an image from a distance may be sufficient to confirm the identification

Recognising feeding sites

Identifying where Glossy Black-Cockatoos feed and nest is potentially even more valuable than sightings of the birds themselves. The tell-tale traces of recent feeding are the scattering of torn Allocasuarina cones. These small 'cones' are exceptionally tough, and if you find them torn apart in this way, you can be confident that Glossies have been feeding in the tree above.

What to record & photograph

Photograph the cones AND the tree, and record this as a sighting on NatureMapr.

Recognising potential nest hollows


We are particularly keen to identify trees which could be nesting sites for Glossy Black-Cockatoos. Protecting suitable nest sites is critical to saving this species. 


Glossy Black-Cockatoos nest in tree hollows ... but not just any hollows. Studies in central NSW have shown that Glossy Blacks in the Goonoo State Forest select nesting sites with the following features:


  • Hollow in a 'spout' that is either vertical or no more than 45 degrees off vertical
  • Entrance diameter of at least 15cm, in a branch or trunk of at least 30cm.
  • Entrance at least 8m above the ground, in the upper part of the trunk or in large, broken branches close to the main trunk
  • Nest trees are usually large and very old eucalypts. As an indication, trunk 'diameter at breast height' (DBH in images below) of at least 60cm.
  • Nest trees are usually either dead or damaged. Storm, insect and (some) fire damage are important factors in creating hollows.
  • The birds favours nesting sites where there are numerous suitable hollows. Pairs prefer to nest in proximity to other pairs, rather than in isolation.

From <>

Within the Canberra Nature Map area can you please tick the box "nesting or breeding site" within the sighting record details , if you see a bird entering or inspecting a holow consistent with the above features.

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Calyptorhynchus lathami (Glossy Black-Cockatoo) at Mount Majura - 7 Sep 2014
Calyptorhynchus lathami (Glossy Black-Cockatoo) at Mount Majura - 7 Sep 2014

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Calyptorhynchus lathami
Calyptorhynchus lathami
Male (left) and Female (right) (Calyptorhynchus lathami)

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Species Information

Calyptorhynchus lathami locations

Calyptorhynchus lathami has been recorded at:

Atlas of Life in the Coastal Wilderness Frogwatch ACT and Region Budawang Coast Nature Map Southern Highlands Nature Map Noosa Shire Nature Map Albury Wodonga Nature Map
1188796 sightings of 5359 species in 1188 locations from 2426 members
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