Black cockatoos have eluded me and my OM-D for quite some time. Whenever I heard their recognizable call and had my camera out, they had already flown off.
The more I was surprised when I had a few splendid opportunities to capture these bright birds up close and personal in Townsville. They didn’t appear as timid up here in Far North Queensland. And if I wouldn’t know better, they have even been posing in front of my lens. This gave me an unmissable opportunity to get close with my camera, they sure didn’t mind.
There are 5 different sub species of ‘Red-Tailed Black Cockatoos’ on the Australian Continent. Some are quiet rare and close to extinction due to usual human influences. They seem to thrive in northern parts of this country.
There are a few visual differences between male and female cockatoos.
Males have a pitch black plumage from elongated feathers on the crown.
But they have the distinguished red tailed feathers, which gives this species its name.
Not very often does Mother Nature provide the spectacular outlook on female species. In this case, it is inadmissible.
Yellow to red spots flank her upper body and wings in a brilliant display. These are more obvious in glaring sunshine, quiet fabulous .
They almost look like stars in the night sky. Her tail feathers are lined with yellow lines over black mass. Juvenile’s tail feathers keep the very same pattern as females until they reach puberty at the age of 4 years.
Young males eventually replace their black and yellow feathers to bright red feathers. Only then it becomes obvious for the untrained eye to determine their gender.
Red-Tailed Cockatoos are seed eaters and there are plenty found up here. In common with other cockatoos and parrots, red-tailed black cockatoos have zygodactyl feet, two toes facing forward and two backward.
This allows them to grasp objects with one foot while standing on the other, for feeding and manipulation.
Black cockatoos are almost exclusively left-footed, who would have known. This theory concludes on my photos taken, where always the left foot is used to hold the fruit.
This fruit gets picked from the tree, which can be a bit awkward to dose at times.
Particularly in windy conditions it becomes a wee balance act.
Nothing these clever birds can’t handle.
Sometimes the twig holding the fruit gets cut and later disposed of when in comfortable feeding position. The shell is easily cut open and dropped to the ground before dinner is served.
Being in a comfortable position doesn’t always mean a peaceful position.
Often enough, fellow members of the cockatoo community swoop down on feeding cockatoos, getting them to move on.
This often gets the whole flock moving with loud ‘krurr’ or ‘kree’ sounds. A rather noisy undertaking.
With all that motion and commotion, fruits and seeds often drop to the ground. With an abundance of fruits hanging in the trees, they would be left for grounded foragers. But that isn’t always the case.
I was pleasantly surprised to see this female moving to the ground on the beach, to finish her main course.
She didn’t mind me or my camera at all. It even appeared as if she was modeling for me, giving me a wink with the eye. Well, invite gratefully accepted to take some incredible closeup photos. I was holding my breath and my finger on the shutter button.
She fairly enjoyed her entree and picked up seconds.
Such colours are incredible in the sun.
She decided, it might be best to fly to a safer feeding area with her dessert.
Well up high, she was still keeping an eye out for me. Bon Appetite. What a charmer.
For a large flying bird, these cockatoos are incredibly agile.
It really was hard to follow them with my lens and I had my best shots on pre-speculated flying or landing areas.
Those multi-coloured wings look mesmerizing against the blue sky. Pointing in the right direction with my lens and getting shutter speed and focus point right was an immense task and most photos taken got deleted.
A few however, turned out quite well. Gotta be happy with that.
These are only a few photos of the hundreds of photos I took. Selection was again the hardest part. Apart from a sore neck.
Watching these clever birds interacting with themselves was just magnificent.