Black Cockatoo Conservation in Moora

Wally Kerkhof is fighting for the conservation of the black cockatoos in the town of Moora

I had always wanted to visit the town of Moora, in the Wheatbelt, to see the Carnaby’s black cockatoos nesting in the middle of the town. Most importantly, I had heard of the famous “Dinner at Wally‘s” and wanted to find out what the fuss was all about.

For several years, Wally has been feeding the Carnaby’s in his backyard. The clearing of the Wheatbelt in Western Australia started in the 1920s to support the wheat production and sheep farming. As a result, Carnaby’s habitat has been and continue to be deeply fragmented. The rapid decline of the species is mainly due to loss and fragmentation of its habitat. Every year, from August to December, Carnaby’s migrate back to their breeding grounds in the Wheatbelt, in search of a nesting hollow, to hopefully come back to Perth in Summer with their chick. Hollows are nowadays harder and harder to find and remain very competitive with other species such as feral bees, galahs and corellas.

Due to this habitat loss, severe drought and competition from other species, Carnaby’s struggle to find suitable food to keep themselves and their chick alive. While Carnaby’s haven’t adapted to eat barley crops, they do eat canola. Canola can become infected with the black spot fungus, which sadly claimed thousands of Carnaby’s lives a few years ago.  As a result of starvation and the possible loss of the iconic Carnaby’s, Wally started feeding the Carnaby’s black cockatoos at his house a few years ago.

Wally has also been designing and making artificial nesting hollows from fallen logs for over 30 years. He is a very passionate man and it was great meeting with him. Wally has been installing the artificial nests in the middle of town and it is possible to observe black cockatoos peering from their nesting boxes during the breeding season. From what Wally told me, it seems that the shire is not very happy to have all those nesting boxes around town but this is not deceiving Wally as he keeps installing the nests wherever possible.

Wally’s actions are very controversial. On one side, the sunflower seeds might not be good for the Carnaby’s black cockatoos and on the other side, black cockatoos are starving due to deforestation. This has therefore an impact on the survival of the chicks. Their diet is quite balanced though as the parents are encouraged to forage during the day and come to Wally’s to feed before sunset.

The breeding season in Moora is quite successful as they are about 80 healthy chicks born every year. My thought is if we could have nesting boxes in all the Wheatbelt towns and protect native bushland, we could re-build a good population of Carnaby’s black cockatoos by 2050 instead of having the species extinct by 2050. Feeding might not be the best solution as the cockatoos get used to humans, perhaps, a healthy food supply in a safe place near the breeding areas could be an idea to consider.

If you too, are thinking of visiting the town of Moora and the Carnaby’s black cockatoos feeding at Wally’s, there is a designated viewing area at the back of Wally’s garden, called the Carnaby’s hide. There are signs at the outskirt of the town to find your way to his place or simply ask in town.

A guide on how to build an artificial nesting hollow can be found on the Moore Catchment Council website.

 

Artificial nest in MooraArtificial nest in MooraCarnaby's Black Cockatoo in MooraCarnaby's Black Cockatoo in MooraCarnaby's Black Cockatoo in MooraCarnaby's Black Cockatoo in MooraCarnaby's Black Cockatoos in MooraCarnaby's Black Cockatoo in Moora0W3A9594SHOOTPROOFCarnaby's Black Cockatoos feeding at Wally's in Moora

Carnaby's Black Cockatoo at Wally's in Moora

Artificial nest in Moora

 

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