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Managing Baudin’s Cockatoos in WA

Baudin’s White-Tailed Black Cockatoo (Calyptohynchus baudinii var. naso) and parrot species cause considerable damage to fruit in WA each year.

A BirdDeter system, using radar detection was chosen for the "Black Cocky—Awareness & Threat Abatement trial" to repel the targeted bird species. As the project was only funded for Baudin’s White-Tailed Black Cockatoo, the BirdDeter system was set up primarily for this species (from the orchardist’s perspective, parrot species also have to be considered).

The test site was 250 acres of mixed fruit: apples, pears and plums, with apples dominant. Two areas of approximately 20 acres each were chosen as the trial and control sites; both contained Fuji and Pink Lady™ apples, which appear to be favoured varieties of the targeted bird species. An orchard plan was sent to Vigilance Technologies in Queensland to design the best layout for their equipment to be used in the trial site. The BirdDeter System was installed and commenced working on 1 February and turned off at the end of the fruit season 1 June, 2006.

Installation of BirdDeter system for Baudin's Cockatoos

Field observations — ‘truthing’

Two people were positioned diagonally on the edge of the orchard so they could see around all sides. They recorded bird numbers for cockatoos and parrots, their direction of flight, time of movement, activation of the BirdDeter System and the birds’ reaction to the deterrent equipment. This ground ‘truthing’ of the BirdDeter radar system was carried out over three days during one-hour sessions. The logged data from the BirdDeter system was compared to the ground truthing observations and was found to be within the recording accuracy of the observers. The field observations indicated that the Baudins Cockatoo were flying around the orchard, potentially showing that the birds were becoming trained to avoid the area.

Tree selection for assessment

Thirty Cripps Pink trees were randomly selected in the trial and control sites. Each tree was assessed three times at two-week intervals where the number of apples damaged by cockatoos and parrots was recorded. Apples damaged by other unknown/unrecognisable means were counted separately and have been included as ‘unknown’ (Table 3). Apples that were found undamaged lying on the ground were not counted because it was impossible to establish what caused them to fall e.g. bird, tractor, wind, etc.


Yields in the control site went from 78 bins last year to 156 bins this year. In the site protected by BirdDeter, Pink Lady apple yields went from 8 bins last year to 128 bins this year. Graphs of measured apple damage are shown in the tables below. In Table 3 the status of apples has been separated into four categories: cockatoo, parrot, unknown and undamaged.


The yield of Pink Lady apples in the area protected by the BirdDeter system increased by a factor of 14 this year over last year. Such a large increase in yield could not be accounted for by yield doubling at the control site, or the age of the trees. The results show that the BirdDeter system was the major factor in achieving the yield increase. Parrots had already been feeding in the trial site orchard before the BirdDeter System was installed; there may have been less damage caused by parrots if the system was working before they had established a feeding habit. A Benefit Cost Analysis is currently being carried out.

Managing Baudin’s Cockatoos in WA, Tree Fruit Magazine, October 2006 (0.2Mb)

The Warren Catchments Council ran a project, Black Cocky—Awareness & Threat Abatement in Southern Forests WA during the 2005–06 apples season. The project was sponsored by the Threatened Species Network Community Grants, CALM, WA Fruit Growers Association and equipment suppliers/ manufactures. As part of this project a bird repelling system was installed in an orchard south west of Manjimup, WA. This article is a report summary. The full report can be obtained from Lee Fontanini, Project Officer, Southern Forest Landcare, Warren Catchments Council, 52 Bath Street, Manjimup WA 6258.