Black cockatoos are endlessly fascinating

Western Australia’s black cockatoos are curious, intelligent, social, charismatic animals that most children in southwest WA know and recognise.  They are unique to Western Australia, which makes them an excellent ‘focal animal’ around which to scaffold lessons in a range of subject areas.


Carnaby's on tap - courtesy of Stephen Corcoran Stephen Corcoran

Black cockatoos and their lives are ideal for teaching not only science and wildlife-environmental health but also:

  • art,
  • creative writing,
  • geography
  • cultures,
  • and many other subject areas.

Black cockatoos - examples of captivating subject areas for students:

  • Their complex social lives can inspire students about biology and animal behaviour.
  • Their status as ‘species threatened with extinction’ can teach students about biodiversity conservation and how humans change landscapes (geology; agriculture; urban design).
  • Their specialised feeding strategies can intrigue students about physical features (anatomy) and adaptation.
  • Their use of different habitats for survival tells a vivid story of the connections between animals, plants and environment (ecology; climate change).
  • The scientific studies being done on them can inspire students about how scientists use GPS and ARGOS satellite tags and spatial technologies to track wildlife, and how wildlife veterinarians can check the health of wild animals.
  • Their importance for Noongar people can raise awareness about First Nations cultures and perspectives.

Black cockatoo-themed educational resources

The Keep Carnaby’s Flying – Ngoolarks Forever project is developing several sets of black cockatoo-themed educational resources (lesson plans, teaching notes and activity sheets) for primary and secondary students which link to the Western Australian curriculum. We hope they are enjoyed by teachers and students alike. Equally, they can be explored by children and care-givers at home.

Please check back in August 2024.

There are also many other wonderful resources that teachers and schools can use to teach and inspire children about Western Australia’s black cockatoos, and which use the birds as a compelling subject to scaffold a wide range of learning themes. 

School activity sheets, attractive colouring sheets and a range of other engaging educational resources about black cockatoos, for primary through secondary years, can be found at the web pages below.

Make your own cockatoo origami

Download the instructions and cut out to make your own cockatoo origami.

Courtesy of Save the Black Cockatoo Coalition.

origami thumbnail

Some of the resources available to teachers and schools

carnaby head blue-01

ABC’s documentary ‘On a wing and a prayer’ : Documentary about Carnaby’s cockatoos, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 2011. The web page includes the DVD’s links to the Australian curriculum, and information about an associated 12-page Study Guide (educational resource) which is available for use in schools (mid-primary through secondary level).

Birdata - BirdLife Australia : This is a citizen science initiative by BirdLife Australia - a Bird Monitoring Platform that includes a downloadable app for both Apple and Android phones, for the public, including schools and students, (as well as scientists) to record their bird sightings and help with bird conservation and science in their local area and Australia-wide. How many different birds can you find in your school and neighbourhood?

BirdLife ‘Choose for Black Cockatoos’ : Printable pamphlet on choosing the best food plants for black cockatoos in your garden and school, as well as the importance of providing water, and managing the risk of ‘dieback disease’ in native trees.

Black Cockatoo Care – School resources  – Western Australian Museum.

Bush Heritage Australia – Cockatoos :  page of information about Australia’s 11 species of cockatoos, including Western Australia’s three black cockatoos.

Kaarakin Black Cockatoo Conservation Centre – Education : colouring sheets and educational activities.

Kaarakin Black Cockatoo Conservation Centre – School education experiences : Information on school incursions to Kaarakin and a range of informative fact sheets and colouring sheets.

Perth Zoo – Carnaby’s Cockatoo :  Information on Ngoolarks (Carnaby’s Cockatoos) and WA’s other black cockatoo species.

Save the Black Cockatoos Coalition – Black cockatoos :  Web page with information about all three of WA’s black cockatoo species, including Noongar names, and gallery of attractive, interesting images of black cockatoos.

Urban Bushland Council – Black Cockatoo school resources :   colouring sheets including pages for gum nut markings from all three cockatoo species.

WA Forest Alliance –Get Informed : factsheets about WA’s forests (black cockatoo habitat), including definitions of ‘Old Growth’, threats, and the value of forests for protecting against harmful climate changes in WA.

WA Museum – Chewed marri nut identification : downloadable and printable sheet to allow students to identify which kind of black cockatoo or other parrot species has been chewing on the marri nuts they find (useful for excursions to marri bushland, or for in-class activities).

WA Museum – Cockatoo Care : page on the WA Museum’s black cockatoo conservation initiative, including photo gallery (all ages) and links to studies and reports (suitable for secondary students).


Photographs on this website are subject to copyright and have been provided by the Murdoch University Black Cockatoo Conservation Management Project , Rick Dawson, Wildlife Photography and Stephen Corcoran.