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Inspiring and Supporting Photographers of Australian Birds

Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoo

Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoo (Image ID 46587)
Photographed byMichael Hamel-Green on Sat 5th Jun, 2021 and uploaded on Mon 7th Jun, 2021 .
Resolution1800x929
Viewed163
ID46587
CommentWhile chatting with some fellow birdwatchers at Royal Park, what should fly directly over us but this flock of Yellow-Tailed Black Cockatoos. Breeding in the higher country, they disperse to more lowland areas over winter, and were sighted recently enjoying some of the pines around the Old Melbourne Cemetery in the heart of Melbourne, which is where this roving flock might just have visited. While moderately common in most of south and southeast Australia, they are apparently vulnerable in South Australia. Their distinctive yellow earmuffs are very evident, even from a distance, with those sporting brighter yellow muffs more likely to be females. In flight, of course, their usually forward-curving crests are swept back. Beautiful to see close-up, but also exhilarating to see this whole flock on the move. They are also known for their strange wailing calls. As poet Judith Wright describes Black Cockatoos’ sensing of an approaching storm: “Before the first far flash/lit up, or the first thunder spoke its name,/in heavy flight they came, till I could hear/the wild black cockatoos, tossed on the crest/of their high trees, crying the world’s unrest” (“Birds”, National Library, 2010). There were no wailing cries from this Black Cockatoo flock so perhaps it is an auspicious augur for Melbourne coming out if its Covid “storm” lockdown in the coming weeks. The Black Cockatoos that did not wail may be just as significant as Sherlock’s dog that did not bark. Jennifer Ackerman observes in her astonishing new book on how birds “talk, work, play, parent and think” (The Bird Way, 2020, based on the most recent research across the world) that “The sixteenth-century English noun “auspice” originally referred to the practice of observing birds to find omens”. This roving but unwailing flock of Black Cockatoos was my omen of better times ahead.
EquipmentNikon Z7ii, Nikon 300mm PF f4, TC1.4, focal length 420mm
ISO 1250
1/1250th f5.6
LocationRoyal Park Wetlands, Parkville, Victoria
Keywordsmale, female, in flight
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