Wildlife Research Wildlife Research Society
Ecology, management and conservation in natural and modified habitats

The Availability of Tree Hollows for Use as Nest Sites by White-tailed Black Cockatoos

DA Saunders

Australian Wildlife Research 6(2) 205 - 216
Published: 1979


Data on nest hollows were collected from four study areas throughout the range of the short-billed form of the white-tailed black cockatoo, Calyptorhynchus baudinii latirostris, in south Western Australia. Hollows in trees are formed as a result of some destructive agent such as termites or fungi attacking the heartwood of the tree and breaking down the structure of the wood cells. The breaking off of part of the tree provides access to the hollow from the outside, and allows it to be used as a nest site. Throughout their breeding range, white-tailed black cockatoos will nest in any species of eucalypt which has a hollow of suitable size. The aspects of the entrances of hollows are not randomly distributed among compass groups, but the birds' selection of hollows was random. The aspect, depth to the floor and height of the entrance from the ground do not affect the success or failure of the nesting attempt. Female white-tailed black cockatoos searching for and preparing nest hollows chase female conspecifics from an area around their prospective nest tree. They continue this activity until they are incubating; this may result in suitable hollows not being accessible to other females. The rate of loss of hollows was 4.8 and 2.2% at two of the study areas. Hollows are being destroyed by all causes, particularly clearing for agriculture, faster than they are being created. Guidelines for the management of woodland must be drawn up so as to maintain a continuing supply of mature trees and protect hole-nesting species.


© CSIRO 1979

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