The last black cockatoo sanctuary in the South West closes

For the past 34 years Dee Patterson has run Jamarri, the last black cockatoo rehabilitation centre in the South West, she ran the facility with her late husband David until he passed away five years ago.

Last week Ms Patterson closed the facility releasing 41 black cockatoos into the state forest surrounding her property in Jalbarragup, near Nannup.

Another 24 cockatoos went to the Kaarakin Black Cockatoo Conservation Centre in Perth for more rehab, along with two more which could not be released into the wild.

"Things got a little bit hard for me to do and it was time for me to spend time with my grandchildren," she said.

"I was the only black cockatoo sanctuary in the South West, I tried to get the Maroo Wildlife Refuge in Manjimup to take them on but they couldn't because of a lack of funding.

"That's what happened here, I had a lack of funding so I could not continue, now injured black cockatoos in the South West will go to Perth for rehabilitation."

A flock of 200 red-tailed cockatoos live in the state forest surrounding Ms Patterson's property, it is expected the released birds will join the flock over the coming year.

"I release about 30 cockatoos a year which join the main flock," she said.

"There are a few around here which haven't joined the main flock yet but they will in the next year as they get a bit older, the juveniles will find a partner among the main flock.

"They are our Western Australian icon really.

"We have the three species here: the Carnabys; Baudins and the red tails. They are always around here sitting up in the trees."

The south-western red tailed black cockatoos are listed as vulnerable, the population has declined due to logging, bushfires and competition for nest hollows from other species.

"Logging is a real problem, the first lot of birds we used to get in were from logging coupes," she said.

"We get a lot of car and truck victims but it's mainly logging, I back onto a state forest here, which is the Helms Forest Block, they are logging another coupe in there now.

"Eventually they will log right behind me, it is all habitat in there, it is all a breeding area it would be a shame for them to destroy it.

"I am dead against logging, they clear fell the karri which causes a lot of the birds to be smaller in size when I get an injured one in, their parents are having to go too far for food."

The Patterson's started Jamarri when they brought home an injured cockatoo they found while working on a farm.

"We brought it home and joined Fostering and Assistance for Wildlife Needing Aid in Busselton," she said.

"We ended up registering with the Department of Conservation and Land Management as wildlife rehabilitators for the cockatoos.

"It started from there. All the vets in the South West knew where to ring, we used to travel here, there and everywhere to pick up the birds.

"We have rehabilitated around 300 black cockatoos, it could be more. It has been a good experience, we have thoroughly enjoyed it.

"I will miss them, I still have three pairs which I am still looking after."

Ms Patterson said she loved the black cockatoos' nature and all their different personalities.

"I still have to feed the birds outside of the aviaries until they get used to the area, the main flock come in to breed around here in August and September," she said.

"They take off around the end of January once they have bred, the ones I have released join them.

"There is one in the trees now he got left behind this morning, you can hear him calling out, he will have to wait until the flock come back for a drink tonight."

Ms Patterson said it was a great feeling to breed the birds in captivity, release them into the forest and see them come back with their babies.

"That is really special to get a bird well again, release it, then they breed and bring their babies back," she said.

"Some of them I recognise because the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions put bands on their legs."

Looking after the cockatoos has been a labour of love for Ms Patterson who said the young birds in their care required spoon feeding every two to four hours.

"When they reached twelve weeks old you could ween them back to three feeds a day until they started to eat feed," she said.

"Some of them would take between 16 and 20 weeks, some would eat for six months."