Red tailed Black Cockatoo
PO  Box 126 Mitcham Vic 3132 ( Victoria, Australia )

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. red tailed black cockatoo
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     photo of red tailed black cockatoo - cock bird
  • An Australian Parrot                   (Click on photo to enlarge)  Photo of cock bird.
  • Scientific Name: Calyptorhynchus banksii
  • Sub Species in country / area of origin:  5
  • Origin / Distribution: Multiple parts of Australia and across the top of Australia.
  • Habitat In Wild: Varied.
  • Status In Wild: Northern population is secure but other populations are reducing due to habitat loss.  They prefer eucalypt woodlands.
  • Status In (Australian) Captivity: Numbers are low.
  • Age To Sexual Maturity: about  4 years
  • Lifespan (estimate): approx. 25 or more years.  Could reach 50 years of age.
  • Sexing: Monomorphic / Dimorphic
  • Colour mutations: None
  • Availability: Specialist breeders. Check to ascertain which sub-species is being acquired.
  • Temperament:  ?
  • Cost (Victoria) Per Pair: - Normal colour (Approx.) $4000
  • Description Of Adults: C. b. banksii is the largest of the 5 subspecies.
  1. Length: Approx. 500 - 600 mm (or approx 20 - 24 inches)
  2. Colour ( "normal" colour ): Refer photo above.  Photo of cock bird.
  3. Weight: Approx 700 - 850 gms (or approx 25 - 30 ozs)

Calyptorhynchus banksii graptogyne - the endangered south-eastern subspecies of the Red tailed Black Cockatoo was the mascot of the 2006 Commonwealth Games held in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.  The mascot was known as Karak.  Known population is about 1000 birds.
Birds Australia quote from the Age newspaper (Melbourne) of 30 May 2006, "The problem for the birds is that they are specialised seed eaters that eat the fruit of only three trees; two kinds of stringybarks and the buloke tree, which is itself endangered."  The decline of the buloke tree is caused in part by the drought.

Aviary Notes:

Level Of Knowledge Required: Beginner / Intermediate / Advanced / Specialist Breeders Only.

Government Regulations & By-Laws: Refer to " Government Laws " web page.

Housing Requirements: Refer to " Housing Birds " web page for general details on the housing of Cockatoos or read on for specific details for this parrot.

An aviary of 8 metres long will allow these birds to be able to get adequate exercise. The aviary should be about 1.5 to 1.8 metres wide and about 2.4 metres high. Heavy gauge wire is necessary, preferably weldmesh.

Suitable non-toxic leafy branches can be placed in the aviary for the birds to chew up. This will entertain the birds, help minimize boredom and give the birds some beak exercise. Natural branches can be used for perches. These natural perches will be chewed by the birds and may need to be replaced regularly.

Diet / Feeding: Refer to " Feeding Birds " web page for general details on the feeding of Cockatoos or read on for specific details for this parrot.

Native seed diet include Acacia, Banksia, Casuarina, Eucalypt, Hakea and the introduced Pine species as well as the nuts and fruiting bodies. Branches, seeds and cones of these trees and other suitable native plants should be offered to the birds.  This will provide them with hours of physical activity and mental stimulation as well as a varied diet.

The aviary diet include a variety of fruits and vegetables along with nuts, seeds, sprouted or soaked seeds, leafy green vegetables and greenfoods such as chickweed and dandelion.  Many parrots will eat insects such as grubs and mealworm larvae, pupa and mealworm beetles.   Supplementary feeds, calcium food additives and mineral and vitamin supplements as directed by veterinary advice.

Commercial Parrot pellets can form part of a balanced food intake.

The feed bowls should be fixed in place or made unmovable.  Loose bowls will often be upturned or played with as a toy or play item.

Nesting: A basic overview only. Dimensions are typical / average and can vary widely, influenced by the owner's preferences and the birds preferences.  Parent bird's preferences can also be influenced by the size and type of nest-box / log in which the bird was hatched and reared.  If space allows, offering a choice of sizes and types of logs or nest-boxes, and placed in various locations within the aviary, can allow the parent birds to make their own choice.  Once a pair has chosen a specific nest-box/log and been successful in it, offer that one to them each breeding season.  Try and keep that one for their exclusive use.  Once a pair has chosen its log or nest-box, the other ones can generally be removed.  If the "spare" boxes are to be removed and moved to another flight, ensure the log / nest-box is cleaned to ensure the receptacle has the minimal contamination of mites, parasites and pathogens.

A solid log is the preferred nest for large cockatoos.

  • Nesting months: Varies depending upon where they are bred.
  • Log / Nest-box:
    • Length / depth 700 - 900 mm (or approx. 28 - 36 inches)
    • Log internal diameter approx. 350 - 400 mm. (or approx. 14 - 16 inches)
    • Nest-box internal dimensions approx. 350 - 400 mm square (or approx. 14 - 16 inches square)
    • Diameter of entrance hole approx. 200 - 300 mm (or approx. 8 - 12 inches)
    • Inspection hole (square or round) 100 - 150 mm (or approx 4 - 6 inches)
    • A removable top / lid can be a useful access point for inspections and for cleaning.
    • Location and height of log / nest-box = high in the covered part of the aviary but not too close to the roof to be affected by heat from the roof in the summer months.
    • Angle of log or nest box = 45 degrees through to vertical.
  • Nesting log / nest-box material: Decomposed non-toxic saw dust, wood shavings or other suitable material/s.  The hen will chew pieces off the inside of the log to add to the nesting material on which she will lay the egg or eggs.
  • Who incubates the egg/s: Hen / cock / both share.

Timber nest-boxes generally require a climbing structure attached inside the box below the entrance hole. Both logs and nests need an entrance hole/opening about 100 - 150mm (about 4 -6 inches) from the top. Many species of parrots like the entrance hole to be just big enough to squeeze through. Some parrot breeders do not place a "top" or lid on the larger nest log or box and allow the birds to enter the nest via the top opening.

More details on parrot nestboxes/logs and a selection of parrot nestbox/log photos can be found on the "nests", "parrot nests" and "parrot nestbox photos" web pages.  Click on "Up" then "Nests" then "parrot nests" and "parrot nestbox photos" in the navigation bars.

Breeding: Egg Colour White.  Clutch/s per year  1.  Eggs per nest  1 or 2.. Usually produce one young per clutch.  Incubation approx.  28 days.  Fledge approx. 12 weeks.  Independent approx. many months and may be fed by a parent till the parents start the next clutch the next year.

It is essential to correctly identify the sub-species of each bird prior to breeding.  Do not mix sub-species.

These birds can become aggressive at breeding season and may attack the keeper.  Nest boxes are best positioned so the nest inspection can be carried out from outside the aviary.  Nest inspection is best done when the adult birds are out of the nest.

In the wild young birds may stay in close proximity to the parent birds till the start of the next breeding season learning the correct social skills and species specific behaviour.  Many skills or behaviour can be learnt by visual observation.

If possible, the young birds should be kept in the company of other young Red tailed black cockatoos, or near pairs of adult birds, so they can learn the appropriate social, behavioural and feeding skills for their species.  Young birds that imprint with their own species may be better, more reliable breeders when they attain breeding age.  Birds that imprint with their own species may form stronger pair bonds with their mate at breeding time.

Properly imprinted and socialised birds usually display less behavioural problems.

Some breeders allow the birds to rear the clutch and are happy with one clutch of one bird per year.

Another practise is to remove eggs as they are laid and to incubate the eggs and hand raise the young.  Removing the eggs as they are laid will usually stimulate the hen to lay more eggs.  This is a natural occurrence in the wild if eggs are taken by predators.  If the hen and cock bird's breeding cycle is not synchronised, the removal of the first eggs and placing those eggs in an incubator minimizes the chances of the hen sitting on infertile eggs.

Artificial incubation and hand rearing or fostering will not be covered on this web site.  It is too complex and diverse in nature to be attempted here.

Health Issues:  Refer to "Avian Health Issues" web page for information and references.

  • Worming and parasite control and Quarantine requirements of new bird/s or sick bird/s are considered to require veterinary advice and therefore not covered on this web site.  Refer "Avian Health Issues" web page option.
  • Avian medicine is advancing at a rapid pace.  Keep updating your knowledge and skills.

General References:  Refer to references listed on "Book References" web page.

Specific References:

  • Australian Aviculture
  • A/A Vol 56 No. 11 Nov 2002 Page 233-237 (Inc photo)
  • A/A Vol 52 No. 6 Jun 1998 Page 143-144
  • A/A Vol 48 No. 5 May 1994 Page 121-122
  • A/A Vol 45 No. 4 Apr 1991 Page 102-104
  • A/A Vol 39 No. 5 May 1985 Page 115-116
  • A/A Vol 38 No. 12 Dec 1984 Page 283-289 (Inc photo)
  • Australian Birdkeeper
  • ABK Vol 18 Issue 11. Oct-Nov 2005 Page 669-673 (Corellas & Cockatoos of  inland Australia)
  • ABK Vol 16 Issue 12 Dec-Jan 2004 Page 671-674 (Hand rearing).
  • ABK Vol 16 Issue 8 Apr-May 2003 Page 468-469
  • ABK Vol 13 Issue 3. Jun-July 2000 Page 148-149
  • ABK Vol 13 Issue 1. Feb-Mar 2000  Page 7-9
  • ABK Vol 12 Issue 11. Oct-Nov 1999 Page 534-535
  • ABK Vol 12 Issue 9. Jun-July 1999 Page 423-425
  • ABK Vol 11 Issue 3. Jun-July 1998 Page 112-116
  • ABK Vol 10 Issue 9. Jun-July 1997 Page 438-439
  • ABK Vol  7 Issue 6. Dec-Jan 1995 Page 271-276
  • ABK Vol  6 Issue 12. Dec-Jan 1994 Page 603-605
  • ABK Vol  6 Issue 12. Dec-Jan 1994 Page 614-615
  • ABK Vol  2 Issue 11. Oct-Nov 1989 Page 443-444

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