Drive to keep Carnaby's cockatoos alive

March 29, 2018

Save the birds: watch out for black cockatoos near Bremer Bay

Motorists visiting the Great Southern region should slow down for endangered Carnaby’s cockatoos following the deaths of two birds in two separate collisions in Boxwood Hill, near Bremer Bay.

The collisions, which happened on the Borden to Bremer Bay road as the birds came down to drink from a puddle after rainfall, were witnessed during a recent field trip by Murdoch University PhD student Karen Riley.

Miss Riley, who has been tracking the movements of breeding Carnaby’s cockatoos using satellite and GPS transmitters, is urging motorists to look out for these iconic birds.

“The birds were feeding along the road verge on the Borden to Bremer Bay Road and several had come down to drink from a puddle on the road. A car came along and barely slowed down before hitting and killing one bird,” she said.

Just over 30 minutes later, another car killed a second bird in the same spot.

“Cockatoos are slow to take off, so drivers need to give them plenty of time to move out of the way when passing them on the road,” Miss Riley said.

“Often the birds will be feeding along road verges where native vegetation has been retained, making them particularly vulnerable to being hit by cars.”

Miss Riley said the fragmented nature of Carnaby’s cockatoo habitat means they are often in close proximity to roads.

The PhD researcher has been tracking birds breeding in Borden throughout the last two breeding seasons. At the end of both seasons, the birds head straight to Boxwood Hill, which is where adult birds have been bringing their newly-fledged young to dine on banksia, hakea and plantation pine.

The population of Carnaby’s cockatoo is in decline, having dropped during the last 30 years from 150,000 to between 20,000 and 40,000.  The decline is largely a result of habitat loss and fragmentation.

In the past two weeks a large number of mortalities have been reported between Cheyne Beach and Boxwood Hill, with many of these carcasses being brought into the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA) Albany office.

Road warning signs are already in place in other parts of the region where cockatoo collisions are known to occur, including Chester Pass Road in the Stirling Ranges National Park and the South Coast Highway from Cheyne Beach Road to Wellstead.

DBCA are also keen for signs to be placed on the Borden to Bremer Bay Road to warn drivers to be on the lookout for cockatoos and are liaising with staff from Main Roads to have signage improved.

Motorists encountering injured cockatoos on the road are asked to call the DBCA Wildcare Helpline on 9474 9055.



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Media contact: Connie Clarke
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