Bird watcher spots first glossy black cockatoo on SA mainland in decades

They’re called “glossy”, but they’re not known for seeking the limelight.

Indeed, for decades South Australia’s glossy black cockatoo population seems to have confined itself to Kangaroo Island.

But twitchers and wildlife authorities are hoping that might be about to change following the first confirmed sighting of the elusive bird on SA’s mainland in about 50 years.

“The species of black cocky that we see most of the time around the Adelaide area and the Mount Lofty Ranges is the yellow-tailed black cockatoo,” National Parks and Wildlife Service conservation ecologist Anthony Abley said.

“For about 50 years now the glossy black cockatoos have been confined to Kangaroo Island and they’re a slightly smaller black cocky with a bit of brown on them and also some beautiful red tail feathers.

“This is the first confirmed sighting we’ve had, with really good photos, in a very long time.”

The discovery occurred when keen birdwatcher Julie Thompson went on an evening stroll during a recent family camping trip to Deep Creek National Park.

“I saw this black cockatoo flying across and I ran over to the trees where he landed, which were the she-oaks,” she said.

The next morning Ms Thompson returned.

“Smack bang when I got to the same area, he was just flying across from Kangaroo Island,” she said.

“I ran across and went, ‘Oh wow, he’s come back!'”

‘Male bias’ in KI population
It wasn’t until Ms Thompson shared her photos on Facebook that the feathered traveller was identified as a male glossy.

“Lo and behold that’s what he turned out to be — a glossy black,” she said.

Mr Abley said twitchers were “super excited” to discover that glossies still migrated to the mainland from Kangaroo Island, where about 450 survive.

Another population persists in eastern Australia, but the bird is “very much endangered”.

“They mostly only eat she-oak cones, and due to the loss of she-oaks throughout the agricultural zone in South Australia, we’ve kind of lost the glossies from the mainland,” Mr Abley said.

He said it was likely that glossies had gone in search of new habitat following fires two and a half years ago.

“They lost a fair proportion of their feeding trees over on Kangaroo Island and this might have been a bit of motivation for them to come looking,” he said.

But he said there might be another reason — love.

“From what I understand, there’s a bit of a male bias in the population on Kangaroo Island,” Mr Abley said.

“A bit of motivation for this guy to come over to the mainland [was] looking for a female, perhaps.”