Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo (Calyptorhynchus funereus): is a large bird that is between 630 to 690 millimetres long. Birds have round yellow marks on their ear covers and pale yellow panels on the upper surface of their tails. Bodies are glossy brownish black.
The Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo may be observed in pairs, family trios, small or large flocks. We frequently see “Yellow-tails” around Yallaroo. Usually they are in flocks of from three to thirteen. We were fortunate to see a flock of five perched in a dead Eucalypt (see left hand image).
Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos have a cosmopolitan diet. They use their strong beaks to tear bark and wood of Acacias and Eucalypts to feed on the white grubs that live in the trunks and branches.
The right hand image shows a Eucalypt trunk that has been opened up by a “Yellow-tail” to catch a grub. This grub was living close to the base of the trunk. This is unusual because most grubs are exposed in branches and trunks well above ground level. The “Yellow-tails” must be able to hear the insects in the trees because they always seem to be successful. There is a chamber, where the insect lives, that is exposed by their strong beaks.
Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos also open seed capsules Hakeas, Banksias and exotic Pine cones. At Yallaroo they only attack the capsules of Hakea eriantha. They leave our other Hakeas alone. On the Southern Highlands, of New South Wales they have learnt to open the cones of the introduced Pinus radiata.
They make a distinctive grinding noise when feeding.
Nests are high in tree hollows on decayed debris. One or two white, oval eggs are laid. Only one chick survives.
Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos occur in south-eastern Queensland, eastern New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania.
Their arrival is said to herald rain but we have no concrete evidence to sustain this claim.