Emu Emu Society
Journal of BirdLife Australia

Distribution and Taxonomy of the White-tailed and Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoos Calyptorhynchus spp.

DA Saunders

Emu 79(4) 215 - 227
Published: 1979


The history of the classification of the Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo Calyptorhynchus funereus and the White-tailed Black-Cockatoo C. baudinii is given. The differences beltween the long-billed (C. baudinii) and short-billed (C. latirostris) forms of the White-bailed Black-Cockatoo are presented: the long-billed form has a longer wing, differently shaped upper mandible, different cranial morphology, different food preferences and different contact calls; the breeding and foraging ranges of the two forms are presented and discussed. Based on these differences, the two forms are treated as separate species. The results of examination of museum material and literature on the Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoo are presented. On thls evidence the Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoo is divided into three subspecies: one, C. funereus funereus ranges from eastern Victoria, north to Berserker Range (near Rockhampton, Q.) and has a longer wing and tail, with a slightly larger upper mandible, tarsus and claw; another, C. f. xanthanotus, occurs in southern Victoria, south-eastern South Australia to lower Eyre Peninsula, Kangaroo Island, Tasmania and King, Flinders and Cape Barren Islands, Bass Strait; the third, C. f. latirostris, is white tailed, here transferred from C. baudinii, and occurs in south-western Australia in the drier inland sandplain and mallee areas. The similarities between C. f. xanthanotus and latirostris axe stressed land discussed; the only major difference is Ioss of yellow colouring and brown-black spotting. It is suggested that a continuous population of a stock jointly ancestral to funereus and baudinii across southern Australia was split climatically and C. baudinii arose from the western isolate and developed specialized adaptations for feeding on the fruits of Marri Eucalyptus calophylla. A subsequent invasion later gave rise to C. f. latirostris, which was reprductively isolated from C. baudinii by different habitat and calls.


© Royal Australian Ornithologists Union 1979

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