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Glossy Black Cockatoo - BirdForum Opus

Alternative names: Casuarina Cockatoo, Casuarine Cockatoo, Glossy Cockatoo, Latham's Cockatoo, Leach's Black-Cockatoo, Leach's Red-tailed Cockatoo, Nutcracker

Photo © by Mehd Halaouate
Noosa Heads, Australia, 19 May 2005
Calyptorhynchus lathami


46-50 cm (18-20 in) the smallest of the black cockatoos found in Australia

  • Mostly black
  • Dark brown head
  • Red caudal patches


  • Duller
  • Yellow flecks on the cheeks in breeding birds
  • Red barring on the tail.


Eastern Australia: Central Eastern Queensland to Gippsland, Victoria and on Kangaroo Island, South Australia

Photo © by Hans & Judy Beste
Mudgeeraba, Gold Coast, Queensland, 2001



There are three subspecies of this bird that all occupy specific parts of the continent[1]:

  • C. l. erebus which is found in Central North Queensland from Eungella National Park near Mackay south to Monto in South Eastern Queensland.
  • C. l. lathami found from Kingaroy and the Wide Bay District of South Eastern Queensland south to East Gippsland in Victoria.
  • C. l. halmaturinus found only on Kangaroo Island South Australia


All members of this species are sometimes referred to as the "Casuarina Cockatoo" a reference to the bird's preference for eating the cone seeds of the Allocasuarina and Casuarina or She Oak Trees.
Sadly these trees form the greater part of the bird's diet, but are regarded as "rubbish" by most people including developers, who wantonly destroy this habitat. In South Australia, where the birds live solely on Kangaroo Island, recent bushfires have destroyed a large part of the habitat and replanting efforts are continuing.

Photo © by Chris Charles
Patonga, New South Wales, 22 October 2006

Conservation Status

In Queensland C.lathami lathami is considered vulnerable and in New South Wales the same status applies.
C.lathami erebus is considered to be safe and maybe even increasing in numbers.
In VictoriaC.lathami lathami is listed as threatened.
The Kangaroo Island population of C.lathami halmaturinis is listed as endangered.
Nationwide, it is believed that less than 18,000 birds may still exist.



Female, subspecies halmaturinus
Photo © by Lindsay Cooke
Kangaroo Island, March 2006

They are a specialist feeder preferring Casuarina seeds over all other foods, however they have been noted feeding on other seed trees.


They lay one egg per season and the female stays with the egg until incubation is complete. These birds are dependant on remnant forest for breeding hollows close to water. They appear to form small family groups and seem to move their young away after the first year. The birds are usually cautious but easily approached and will sit feeding on one tree for an entire day. They are easily found when they have their young as the continual calling identifies where they are, however on their own are barely discernable in the casuarinas.


Nominate subspecies
Photo © by Ken Doy
Peak Hill, New South Wales, 18 July 2019

They are fairly poor flyers and appear to "fall" from trees and roosts before taking flight. Spectacular flight displays are sometimes seen when the birds chase each other.


They have a unique "creaking door" sound to their call.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, S. M. Billerman, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2019. The eBird/Clements Checklist of Birds of the World: v2019. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Avibase
  3. Rowley, I. and P. F. D. Boesman (2020). Glossy Black-Cockatoo (Calyptorhynchus lathami), version 1.0. In Birds of the World (J. del Hoyo, A. Elliott, J. Sargatal, D. A. Christie, and E. de Juana, Editors). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.glbcoc1.01
  4. BirdForum Member observations

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