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It is never easy counting wildlife, it is even more difficult when the species is mobile and covers a wide territory. Yet it is crucial to calculate at least a reasonable approximation of a species population to establish how the species is faring. It is particularly important in areas such as South East Qld where human impact is changing the natural environment. To assist in the daunting task of surveying wildlife many government authorities and universities are now utilising the services of volunteers and “citizen scientists” and recording and reviewing the observations of the general public.

One such project in our region is the study of Glossy Black-Cockatoos by Dr Guy Castley, Senior Research Fellow of the School of Environment, Griffith University and the Glossy Black Conservancy. These friendly, appealing birds are one of the rarest species of parrot in Australia and South East Qld is a stronghold for the species. They have a very specialised, restrictive diet and only feed on seeds in the cones of she-oaks (Casuarina and Alocasuarina), they also need large tree hollows for nesting.

Glossy Black-Cockatoos are the smallest black-cockatoo up to 48cm in length, they are a dark dusty brown/black in colour. Males and females look different – males have a short crest, dusty brown head, red panels on the tail feathers, females have irregular yellow blotches on the head and neck and barred orange-yellow panels on the tail feathers. They usually occur in small groups, they feed quietly their call is a soft wailing “tarr-red”. They are more likely to be heard in early morning or late afternoon.

Glossy Black-Cockatoos are observed on Tamborine Mountain occasionally, another species of black cockatoo, the Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoo, is far more commonly seen on the Mountain. What are the differences between the two species? The Yellow-tailed has yellow cheek patches and yellow tail panels, they are larger and fly with a slow undulating buoyant flight and their haunting call is a load wailing “ka-reela”

How can you help? You can register as a volunteer and join the survey on 22 May. You can also assist by reporting your observations. Perhaps you have seen Glossies in your area or possibly you used to see them in the past but no longer see them. You can check under she oak trees for chewed she-oak cones, this provides evidence of the presence of Glossies. All this information is part of a jigsaw that can help create a snapshot of the status of this special parrot. Apart from the study you can also assist them and other species by providing water in your garden and preserving tree hollows.

The Glossy Black Conservancy website (http://www.glossyblack.org.au) provides valuable information and includes photographs by our own TMNHA member Marg Eller.

You can contact Guy on 07 5552 8918, Mobile 040 976 0043
Or  email Guy Castley <g [DOT] castley [AT] griffith [DOT] edu [DOT] au>

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Why does attentiveness to nature matter? In a very fundamental sense, we are what we pay attention to. Paying heed to beauty, grace, and everyday miracles promotes a sense of possibility and coherence that runs deeper and truer than the often illusory commercial, social "realities" advanced by mainstream contemporary culture. ... Our attention is precious, and what we choose to focus it on has enormous consequences. What we choose to look at, and to listen to--these choices change the world. As Thich Nhat Hanh has pointed out, we become the bad television programs that we watch. A society that expends its energies tracking the latest doings of the celebrity couple is fundamentally distinct from one that watches for the first arriving spring migrant birds, or takes a weekend to check out insects in a mountain stream, or looks inside flowers to admire the marvelous ingenuities involved in pollination. The former tends to drag culture down to its lowest commonalities; the latter can lift us up in a sense of unity with all life. The Way of Natural History, edited by Thomas Lowe Fleischner and published by Trinity University Press (Texas)