Majestic visitors drop in for a bite

Some 12-15 years ago, we threw a few locally collected, untreated Hakea decurrens seeds in the bush at our place in Strangways, protected by a small exclosure fence. Before too long, we had a couple of large hakeas, covered with flowers and seed pods and with numerous second generation seedlings springing up beneath them.

Hakeas from direct seeding, and their offspring.

A few months back, we found seven Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos (Calyptorhynchus funereus) checking our hakeas out. This was the first time in the 27 years we’ve been on our place that we’d seen this species stop rather than just fly over. Yesterday, we saw a flock of about twenty happily and noisily cracking seed pods for their tasty contents. To my absolute delight, they stuck around while I got the camera.

A female pausing briefly from feasting.

Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos evolved to feed on Hakea, Casuarina and Banksia seeds, but have become more dependent on introduced pines as their usual foods have been reduced by European land management practices. They also like to dig burrowing insects out of eucalypts and wattles.

Checking things out

One of the recorded Dja Dja Wurrung names for this species is Wareaine or Weerran (from John Tully’s book Dja Dja Wurrung Language of Central Victoria.

Females have larger yellow patches behind their eyes, grey eye rings and white bills. The males have pink eye rings and dark grey beaks.

One of the males of the group.

After sating their appetite with Hakea seed, the flock flew into a nearby Grey Box to rest and preen.

Rest time
A bit of beak sharpening.
And preening.

Watching these magnificent birds was a pure delight. Even more so to think that a few minutes easy work a decade and a half ago has resulted in a bit of food for these beauties. Looking forward to their next visit.

7 responses to “Majestic visitors drop in for a bite

  1. What a fabulous story, Patrick. I’d love you to throw a few Hakea seeds in my direction.

  2. What an inspiring story in soooo many ways! Time to cast more seeds far and wide?…err I suppose the fences might pose a problem. Thanks Patrick, a fabulous report!

  3. That is great to see. Our hakeas are still growing so I hope that they will attract some beautiful birds in the future.
    Great photos.

  4. Wow, loved the black cockatoo sequence. How fortunate for us all!

  5. I’m in Glenlyon and black cockies fly over but I haven’t seen them stop here. Your story has inspired me to buy some hakea ducurrens plants and get them on the go so I’ll perhaps end up with them feeding here too. Thank you Patrick for a very interesting article and great photos.

  6. Orlando Lon Eisenweger

    For some months now I have had a pair of King Parrots visit my bird feeder. I live just below the Botanic Gardens on Wombat Hill Daylesford. When they arrived they were both in immature plumage, now the male is the most intense post box red with a billard table green back. I am wondering if anyone else has had these birds in their gardens. I have also for sometime now had Rainbow Lorikeets coming but I am less enthusiastic as they are very aggressive to other visitors. I encourage them to move on…….like to Melbourne.

  7. They often stop off for a feed at Clydesdale. Their fave tree is the allocasuarina verticulata.

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