Black Cockatoos Feasting on Australia River Red Gum Trees

Australia has been increasingly plagued by warmer, drier weather in the recent times, causing distress to agriculture, trade and people. Some areas facing severe drought and a promise of drier times is painting every activity and operation in the country. Displacement and change in species behavior, largely attributed to climate change, is another point of contention, that is continuing to surface in the present unbridled state.

The endangered river red gums, native to Australia, is being subjected to further decline in existence in New South Wales Hunter Valley. The trees have fallen prey to an unforeseen force, he Black Cockatoos. Birdlife Australia has confirmed that the yellow tailed cockatoos hack into the gums to feed on witchetty grubs found in the timber.

Scone, houses Hunter Valley, largest strip of river red gums, belonging to John Taylor, its owner since the 90s. he noticed that his trees were now being invaded and cut open by an unknown perpetrator and he suspected it to be the black cockatoo. “Quite a number of the young germination trees, some of them up to 6 inches in diameter, are being attacked. It would actually open up the tree like a woodsman would open it up, and pull off strips of timber with whatever mechanism he was using. Potentially (the work of) a black cockatoo, because it’s a very large bird with a very powerful beak,” Mr. Taylor said.

Mr. Taylor’s theory was confirmed by BirdLife Australia’s Mick Roderick. “The yellow-tailed cockatoo will get their way into the center of these gum trees to get at the cossid moth larvae, which are known as witchetty grubs — a great food source. They [the cockatoos] will dig their way in and in high winds afterwards the trees can actually fall over,” Mr. Roderick said.

It is believed that prevalent drought conditions in Australia have brought on this behavior, however, studies are still underway to investigate the same.