Red-tails: Up, up and away, way!

Red-tails: Up, up and away, way!

#Taronga Zoo Sydney

Posted on 14th July 2011 by Media Relations


Friday was an interesting day for the Taronga Bird

Show crew. We expect that our feathered stars

may, at times, go for ‘extended’ flights, and Friday certainly delivered just

that. After completing our first show for the day, our flock of six Red-tailed

Black Cockatoos were spooked by a wild Brown Goshawk flying over-head. This

caused them to showcase a  very different natural behaviour, that of

predator avoidance.


not keen about the possibility of ending up on the Goshawk’s

dinner plate, our flock quickly rode the winds to a greater height and

after a few minutes were lost from their trainers’ sight. We are experienced in

fly-off situations and have many strategies in place to deal with them. Having

presented over 10,000 shows in just over a decade it’s something we’ve become

pretty good at. Whether it is early training, strong winds or unwanted

attention from wild locals, skills necessary for coming home are very valuable

and part of their training.

Approximately 1PM was the

last time we saw our flock, at least for the next couple of hours. The team

divided to conquer; each searching different parts of Mosman and then the

out-skirting suburbs. As the hours rolled on, our hearts did sink a little.

It’s a little nerve wrecking when you don’t know exactly where they are, but as

always, in these situations we expect our birds to

come home in a timely fashion. 3:30PM arrived and still nothing. Most of our birds have trackers on them, which makes

searching for them  a lot easier, but the

Red-tails are exceptionally clever and inquisitive and normally manage to get

their trackers off, so we literally have to see them to know where they are.


was when our media department became involved and enlisted help from an ABC

radio station. A media call was put out to nearby residents requesting aid and

just like that our hopes were raised and our spirits given renewed vigour.

Within a matter of minutes our white knight

called and alerted us of their location; a front yard in Balmoral. It is this

local support that never fails to amaze the Bird Show crew, and something we

are forever indebted to.


team was on the scene almost immediately! Upon seeing us, their trainers, our

flock became extremely excited. Crests up, loud vocalisations and the

occasional head bob. We gave the cue and one by one they descended from their

lofty perches ready to go home. This was at 4PM. After ten minutes we had

secured five of our wayward flock, Diyara though must have known I had dinner

plans! Slightly less confident and with the winds picking up, it took her a

little longer to join her friends. But as expected she worked it out.


6PM that night we were a very relieved team. All six Red-tails back, safe and



love being able to share our birds with Taronga’s visitors. They are thrilling,

entertaining, inspiring and remind us of the role we have to play in what is a

magnificent world. We hope to see you soon and share our mischievous black

cockatoos with you, and maybe they will excite you just as much as they excite