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Red-tailed black cockatoos find solace by the beach

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by Pauline James

The red-tailed black cockatoos of north-eastern Queensland, Australia, the only sub-species of this genus found in dry regions and ubiquitous in its feeding habits, are flocking to the beaches in response to a new food source.

Magnetic Island off the coast from Townsville, Queensland has seen a significant rise in the population of red-tailed black cockatoos (Calyptorhynchus banksii banksii) over the last 15 months, and Tony Gordon, a wildlife ranger based on the island says, “I have never seen as many black cockatoos on Magnetic Island as there are now. A single flock used to consist of about 6-10 cockatoos – made up of 2-3 pairs and a few juveniles - but recently I have seen flocks of up to 50 right here in my front yard!”

Tony who is also wildlife manager of Bungalow Bay Koala Village on the island explained, “We have always had black cockatoos on the island, but since Cyclone Yasi struck in February 2011 - the worst storm to hit the coast for over 40 years - the numbers of black cockatoos have significantly increased. Much of their habitat on the mainland suffered devastation in the storm and many of the trees they relied on for food were flattened.

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