Nesting

Bob McphersonAs with many other parrots and cockatoos, Red-tails nest in deep hollows that have formed in very large, old eucalypts. Most nest sites are found in Red Gums (E.camaldulensis) but Red-tails will also nest in stringybark (E.baxteri and E.arenacea), Manna Gums (E. viminalis) and Yellow Gums (E.leucoxylon). Some of these trees are more than 200 years old.

 

Nests can be in dead or live trees and are more likely to occur in areas where there is stringybark within a 3 km radius. Travelling a long way to feed is energetically costly, so it makes sense to nest near good food sources.

Many nest sites are in farming paddocks in dead trees, ringbarked over 100 years ago to improve pasture. Legislative changes have been introduced across the Red-tail range to protect these trees. Hollow trees benefit lots of birds, mammals and insects that are beneficial to farmers because they eat agricultural pests. Where possible it is of great benefit to retain them. If landholders wish to remove dead, hollow trees advice should be sought from a local Department of Environment and Primary Industries in Victoria or Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources in South Australia.
Refer to the Contacts page.

Bob Mcpherson

Red-tails usually pair and nest over spring and early summer (September to January); with those started between January to autumn likely to be re-nesting's after failures. Unlike Yellow-tails, Red-tails lay only one egg, which the female incubates for around 30 days. It takes a relatively long time (around 3 months or 70-100 days) for Red-tail chicks to fledge or leave the nest. This places extra pressure on the parents as they are restricted to sourcing food from areas within a few kilo-meters from the nest. A major cause of nest failure in years when seed availability is low has been attributed to females leaving the nest to supplement the food brought to them by their mates (Jarmyn 2000).
Newly fledged birds may continue to be fed by the parents for a further six months after fledging.

 


Red-tails are also known to nest in artificial nesting hollows made by either mounting natural hollows, rescued from fallen trees, or nest boxes designed from plastic PVC pipe. Nesting pairs have been found using the natural hollow nest boxes on numerous occasions; however their use of the PVC nest boxes has been limited.
Protecting trees with hollows, encouraging natural regeneration and planting for the future will help to ensure that Red-tails have access to suitable nest trees both now and in the future.

Images Credit : Bob Mcpherson.

 

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