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Yellow-Tailed Black Cockatoo

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David Cook

Is the Yellow-Tailed Black Cockatoo right for you?

Species group:

Other common names: Black Cockatoo; Yellow Tail Black Cockatoo; Funereal Cockatoo; Yellow-eared Cockatoo; Yellow-eared Black Cockatoo; Wylah

Scientific name: Calyptorhynchus funereus

The basics:
The Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo has a reputation as a specialty bird that's difficult to breed. Outside of its native Australia, it's vanishing from aviculture because of its demanding requirements. Most people who consider this species should be well-qualified cockatoo breeders working to preserve the species. They are sometimes described as shy or nervous, so know how to handle them with kindness and respect. Never give the bird any reason to fear you.

The two subspecies of the Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo are found in the wetter areas of southeastern Australia, Tasmania, and some nearby islands. They are dependent on trees for their food and also their nest cavities, and they can be commonly observed feasting on large seed cones. They are adaptable and not too shy, and they can use parks and gardens as well as forests. However, as the old hollow trees they prefer for nesting are removed or destroyed, they may have trouble finding good places to breed.

Warning: Cockatoos are powder down birds, and you should not obtain a Yellow-tailed Cockatoo if anyone in the home suffers from allergies or asthma. They can get rowdy and excited and create some astoundingly loud calls, so they are also not for people who are sensitive to noise or who have nearby neighbors.

Appearance:
The only known black cockatoo with a yellow tail band. Adult Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos are easy to sex. The female has the larger, brighter yellow ear patch, along with a horn-colored bill and gray ring around the eye. The male has a smaller ear patch, but he boasts a blackish bill and pink eye-ring.

Weight:
750 - 900 grams (26.5 - 32 oz.)

Average size:
67 centimeters (26 in.)

Lifespan:
50 years

Behavior / temperament:
Because breeders have struggled to produce sufficient numbers of the Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos, there aren't many reports on the pet quality of these birds. Most of the people working with them are Australians, and they suggest that this species is relatively gentle and easy to handle, especially by comparison to some of the more temperamental large white cockatoos. A breeding pair needs to feel safe and secure in their aviary, and they probably shouldn't be able to see another pair of Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos if you expect them to focus on each other.

Housing:
In the unlikely event that you obtain a single pet Yellow-Tailed Black Cockatoo, keep in mind the bird's powerful bill. Choose a a huge powder-coated metal specialty cage of 60"w x 42"d x 72"h with no more than 1-1/2" bar spacing. Place stout manzanita perches in all places where you don't wish to replace the perches often, but you should also have in stock plenty of toys that the bird can chew to destruction at will. You should also have sturdy perches and play areas around the home, so that you can spend plenty of time with your pet.

There are reports that Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos become lazy or depressed if they don't have enough space. A specially constructed walk-in aviary is highly recommended. Every precaution should be taken to screen the aviary from mosquitoes and to prevent raccoons, rats, or other predators from getting inside. Considering the cost of the birds, a security system is a wise investment to discourage thieves.

Diet:
The Yellow-Tailed Black Cockatoo was a tough bird to breed and maintain in the early days of aviculture, partly because they weren't getting the right diet. Today, we know that the wild birds eat a lot of tree-drilling grubs, and it's important to provide a certain amount of live food in the diet, especially if you want to breed your bird. They appear to need more protein than the other cockatoos. One suggested diet is a mix of high quality cockatoo pellets, chopped salad with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, and generous servings of nuts and sunflower seeds on the side. However, you should also offer grubs and mealworms, especially during the breeding season.

Never feed avocado or chocolate to your Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo, as these foods are toxic to all parrots.

Written by Elaine Radford

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