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Supporting cockatoo conservation

13 JULY 2017

Supporting cockatoo conservation

The skies of Boddington happily turned a little black and red in late February, as researchers from Perth's Murdoch University released 10 rehabilitated Forest Red-Tailed Black Cockatoos in to habitat at Boddington.

The Black Cockatoo Ecology and Tracking Project is a five-year industry-supported initiative that aims to improve our understanding of the ecology of three threatened species of black cockatoo and assist in its conservation. We’re keen to support the Project because areas of our Boddington Bauxite Mine and Worsley operations are home to these precious birds.

"It's been great to a part of this release of the Forest Red-Tailed Black Cockatoos in Boddington and to further our understanding of these key conservation significant species," said Rory Swiderski, Specialist Environment Improvement at Boddington Bauxite Mine.

"In addition to our Black Cockatoo management practice and other research previously supported, the outcomes of this study will provide insight into how cockatoos utilise the broader landscape, including the significance of habitat within our operating area.

The cockatoos being released have been rehabilitated at Kaarakin Black Cockatoo Conservation Centre following an injury – often from being struck by vehicles – and we plan several releases over the next couple of years.

Before we send them back to their home skies, the birds are fitted with compact, light-weight satellite and GPS tracking devices. They are released at specially selected locations along the Swan Coastal Plain and in southwest Western Australia, and Murdoch University researchers use the devices to track the flight behaviours and fine-scale movements of the birds.

The trackers can remain operational for a year before being shed during the annual moult of the tail feathers where the tags are attached.

Previously released cockatoos monitored by the Murdoch University teams as part of the project appear to have integrated well into flocks of varying sizes, and their movements revealed interesting insights into cockatoo behaviour, including use of habitat corridors and landscape scale movement. While some cockatoos integrated into flocks that remained in a localised area, others have migrated distances over 200km to forage and breed.

 We’re just happy they’re free.