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Help us understand Sydney's Cockatoos

By: Dr Richard Major, Michael Hugill, Category: Science, Date: 22 Apr 2013

How can you help this world-first study being conducted by the Royal Botanic Gardens & Domain Trust, the University of Sydney and us?

Sydney's Cockatoos #3

Andrew Spark © Andrew Spark

When I saw a cockatoo munching on a chicken drumstick it held with one foot, while perched on a powerline with the other, I finally agreed with my two Ph.D. students that it really was time to find out more about the way these birds are embracing suburban life.

The first step is to find out how faithful they are to particular sites, and how far they move. To this end, John and Adrian have attached wing tags to 70 cockatoos, and thanks to the efforts of some dedicated volunteers and their smart phones, a picture is starting to emerge about their daily routines.

Although they have predominantly been tagged in the afternoon at the Royal Botanic Garden in Sydney, many of them take their breakfast at a variety of inner city establishments. And despite marauding in a large flock in the Garden they often turn up on balconies and clotheslines in small groups, sometimes consisting of the same individuals.

We plan to find out whether the dumpster-divers of Stanwell Park share their skills with the citrus-pickers of Chatswood - or whether they are learning independently. We would also like to know the proportion of cockatoos that breed in suburban tree hollows, rather than in the National Parks that surround the city.

Now that our methods are well established, we want to move the project into top gear and to do that we would love some more assistance.

Firstly, we will be tagging more birds and we would like to expand our network of volunteers to help us track them. Please keep your eye out for tagged cockatoos and report them on our Facebook page or email us or download the Wingtags app from the App Store.

Secondly, the iphone app is the most popular tool, and we are keen to develop an app for android phones, too. We need some funding for this and so we have started an appeal via:

Wingtags: Flying conservation to new heights!


If you can afford a dollar or two please make a pledge!
And regardless of whether you do or don’t, please forward our appeal to your contacts.

For more information on Sydney’s cockatoos and the project go to our webpage.