Conservationists are in search of properties around the central west where they can install high-tech nesting boxes to help boost a population of cockatoos devastated by the black summer bushfires.
Well known among bird lovers for their gentle nature, quirky behaviour and distinct colouration, the Glossy Black-Cockatoo is an inland NSW native which has been declared a threatened species in recent years due to habitat destruction.
However, a new collaboration between Local Land Services, Charles Sturt University and Habitat Innovation and Management could see population numbers bolstered by installing 35 modular nesting boxes on properties throughout the region.
Senior Land Services Officer with Local Land Services, Katie McPherson, said the exact spots for the boxes were yet to be selected and local land services would be reaching out to rural landowners to find suitable locations.
Areas covered in the search for the perfect nesting spots could include anywhere from Wellington through to Nyngan and Coonamble in the north to Condobolin in the south.
Ms McPherson said the project - funded by a successful application to the 2022 WIRES National Grants Program - was an "incredible opportunity" to help lift a native species from the brink of extinction with the help of the community.
"This project will fund critical work needed to recover breeding populations of the threatened Glossy Black-Cockatoo," she said.
"We intend to take field day participants to see the nest boxes in action and undertake some citizen science monitoring of the birds.
We hope that this project will just be the beginning of our works towards recovering Glossy Black-Cockatoo breeding populations."
The modular nesting boxes designed by Habitech specifically for the needs of the Glossy Black-Cockatoo would provide a suitable nesting spot for the birds in lieu of mature hollow-bearing eucalypt trees.
Researchers say it can take up to 200 years for a hollow suitable for the cockatoo to nest to form in a tree.
"Through research and monitoring of nesting activity in the nest boxes, we hope to gain increased understanding of the specific ecological requirements of these birds when selecting a nest site," said Professor David Watson, ornithologist and ecologist from Charles Sturt University.
As well as installing nesting boxes, the project aims to educate local landholders about the plight of the Glossy Black-Cockatoo which is listed as vulnerable in NSW.
"Due to the impact of the 2019 to 20 mega fires, it has recently also been added as a threatened species under the Federal Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act," Mick Callan, Ornithologist and Principal Ecologist from Habitat Innovation and Management.
While it was the 2019 and 2020 bushfire season which saw the bird officially listed as a threatened species, numbers of Glossy Black-Cockatoos have been in decline for years.
A major concern for the bird is clearing of sheoak trees which they feed almost exclusively on the seeds of.
Competition for nesting spaces with other birds and feral cats and possums raiding the birds' nests have also contributed to the decline.
Conservationists say landowners can help the bird by retaining sheoak and eucalypt trees where possible, not removing dead trees for firewood and instead using fallen branches and not letting pets wander unsupervised at night.
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