Biloela Wild Cockatoos

Biloela Wild Cockatoos series by Leila Jeffreys. Gang-Gang Cockatoos live in small flocks in the south east of Australia. They set up supervised crèches for their young so parents can take turns feeding away from the nest site. Juvenile male Red-tailed Black Cockatoos resemble females until puberty, which occurs at around four years of age, but have paler yellow barred underparts. As the birds reach maturity, males gradually replace their yellow tail feathers with red ones.

'Seisa' Palm Cockatoo

'Seisa' Palm Cockatoo

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©Leila Jeffreys 2012
Photograph on archival fibre based cotton rag paper

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I have never met a more curious bird than Seisa (pronounced ‘Say-Sha’) the Palm Cockatoo. When I was setting up, she did everything she could to see me; she managed to crook her neck around a very tight corner just so she could watch me. She was fascinated by all my equipment.

Once we started shooting she was gentle and shy, but what struck me most was her intense eye contact. She looked deeply into my eyes and listened very carefully to everything I said.

She was so other-worldly that I imagined I was photographing an alien species. As the shoot went on she trusted me more and more, and by the end she came up to me for cuddles and nuzzled into my neck.

Seisa lives at the Adelaide Zoo and has been lovingly raised by the zoo since she was an egg. She was hatched on 5th October 2010. It is incredibly hard to breed and raise a Palm Cockatoo so it is a credit to the zoo. Palm Cockatoos live in the rain forests of the Cape York Peninsula in north Queensland (a State of Australia) and the zoo is passionately trying to preserve this beautiful species from the effects of deforestation.

If a male Palm Cockatoo wants to breed he has to learn to play the drums. He must find a drum stick by breaking off a branch, then strip off the bark and drum with one foot by his nest-hollow high in a tree trunk. The sound travels over 100 metres (328 feet) and captivates the lady Palm Cockatoos. Once he finds a partner, however, his drumming days are over and the drum stick gets splintered for use in the nest. Sound familiar?

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