Without access to enough water, hot days can kill
Like most wild animals, black cockatoos need to drink water at the start and end of every day.

The young Ngoolark and the heat wave

Several years ago, after some very hot days, over 200 Ngoolarks from at least two separate flocks were found dead on the ground. Investigations revealed they had likely died from heat stress.  Access to water could have saved them.

One of the younger birds was known to researchers. It been recorded as a chick (called a ‘nestling’) during health checks of nestlings in their nest hollows. Black cockatoo scientists had put a leg-band on it, so they would know it if they ever saw it again. Black cockatoos can live for 50 years. This young Ngoolark was just over one year old when it died.

In Perth, it is hard for Ngoolarks to find enough clean, fresh water. The risks will increase as Perth becomes hotter with harmful climate changes. The summer of 2021-22 was the hottest summer ever recorded in the Perth-Peel region, with the 2023-24 summer the second hottest. It is important to act now to help address the threat of heat stress for our Ngoolarks and all birdlife.

Introducing the 'Cockitrough'

For councils, workplaces and community groups interested in giving clean water to Ngoolarks, one excellent option is the Cockitrough, designed and supplied by the Town of Victoria Park.

Each Cockitrough has several shallow-water drinking platforms, self-flushing to keep water clean, and high off the ground to protect birds from cats and dogs.

Excitingly, the Keep Carnaby’s Flying – Ngoolarks Forever project has bought several Cockitroughs. We are installing these in collaboration with selected local government authorities, in key areas for Ngoolarks in those local government areas.

Several Cockitroughs have already been installed around Perth. They provide a wonderful opportunity to observe Ngoolarks and other endangered native birds, as they gather to drink fresh water safely.

Where should Cockitroughs go?

To help black cockatoos, Cockitroughs should be installed close to (preferably at, or within 1 km of) areas where black cockatoos roost or feed. BirdLife WA's black cockatoo coordinator (carnabys@birdlife.org.au) can advise purchasers about appropriate sites in their area. Installation sites should be away from traffic, carparks and too much human or dog activity, and with trees nearby for birds to shelter in.

Water should be potable; Cockitroughs can be plumbed into mains water or there are off-grid systems available.

What can you do to help?

Ngoolarks prefer to drink from shallow water. They will drink out of ponds, water troughs and garden bird-baths, so if you have water sources, make sure they are regularly topped up with clean fresh water. Keep water sources away from high-risk areas such as roads or areas accessible to pet dogs.


Take home points:

  • Look for safe places to provide shallow clean water for native birds
  • Check out the Cockitroughs – and ask your council, school or workplace to get one!
five drinkers - Bird waterer Georgina Wilson

Image credits: Georgina Wilson. Thank you to birdlife photographer Georgina Wilson for sharing unique pictures of the bird waterers in full action and giving us permission to use some of her images on our website.


Contact us

If you would like to know more about black cockatoos and how you can help them, please contact us.