Featured / 7th December 2023
Pilliga glossies are up in the count
Environmentalists are delighted with the results of a local head count of Glossy Black Cockatoos.
A total of 425 individuals of the vulnerable Glossy Black Cockatoos were observed by more than 30 volunteers stationed at various water points throughout the Pilliga Forestsduring an official survey held on Saturday, 4 November.
The monitoring project is coordinated by the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) across the Pilliga Forest and private property every year.
Adam Fawcett, NPWS Northern Inland conservation team leader, said this year’s count was more than double the number of Glossy Black Cockatoos surveyed in the previous two years.
“Probably, the 510 birds counted in 2019/2020 was a reflection of the intensity of the drought,” Mr Fawcett said.
“The 2020 and 2022 wet years saw fewer animals coming into the water points, most likely due to the amount of free water in the landscape rather than a decline in the population.
“The survey targets water points such as dams, natural water holes and bore dams to capitalise on the Glossies coming into drink of an evening before going to roost.
“We have usually been targeting the same water points every year, but this does change depending on access and weather conditions. The timing of the count was originally planned to occur in November every year, but during the last two wet years we shifted the survey to February because of flooding.”
Mr Fawcett said that the annual count plays a significant role in providing a good understanding of the number of the species in the Pilliga.
“The count is an important part of the ongoing project ‘Making the Inland Glossy Great Again’,” he added.
“The project is led by the Central West Local Land Services (LLS) in partnership with NPWS, Department of Planning and Environment, Forests Corporation NSW, Dubbo Field Naturalist and Conservation Society and the Australian Wildlife Conservancy.
It provides a great opportunity for volunteers to be involved in citizen science within the central west and it has been great to engage with volunteers on this project.
“We had 33 volunteers surveying more than 26 water points and contributing 148 hours to this year’s count, which was fantastic support. The survey also gives them the opportunity to see other species coming in to drink whilst contributing to a major threatened species management project. Many of our volunteers return every year.”
Glossy Black Cockatoos are a small brown-black cockatoo with a massive bulbous bill and short crest.
The birds are well known for congregating at water points to drink during the day, including of an evening before going to roost. They nest in large hollow trees.
“Based on the results of the project to date, the populations look to be generally stable across the Pilliga and surrounding landscape, but numbers fluctuate due to seasonal conditions,” Mr Fawcett said.
“In good seasons the birds are thought to be more widely dispersed, but this is yet to be fully investigated. During poorer and drier seasons, it appears the birds withdraw to areas with permanent water and food resources.
“The Great Inland Glossy Count is also undertaken annually within the Goonoo and Goobang National Parks and surrounding areas. As part of the project the Central West LLS has been running workshops and providing seedlings of the feed trees to landholders to encourage habitat creation for the species across the project area.
“This monitoring project is a great example of collaboration across multiple government departments, land managers and volunteers to gain more information on the species to improve ongoing management.”