Karrak Consulting is named in honour of the Karrak – the name given to the Forest Red-tailed Black Cockatoo by the Nyoongar people of south-west Western Australia, referring to the sound of their calls ('Krar-raak'). Australian native birds have always held a place close to the heart of Karrak Consulting Principal, Kim Lisson. For him, temperate rainforest country – its birds and trees – have always felt like ‘home’, and living in Denmark in WA's Great Southern region, it made the Karrak a natural fit as an emblem.
Photograph by kind permission of Jennifer McErlean (Instagram: @rainbow_bee_girl)
THE KARRAK IN NYOONGAR LEGEND
In Nyoongar legend, the Karrak acquired its red tail markings from the White-tailed Black Cockatoos.
The story goes that the White-Tailed Cockatoos were mistakenly attempting to defend a dingo which was attacking a willy wagtail.
A swamp hen, which was feeding on sedge at the time, cut off a sedge reed (whose roots exude a red sap) and struck the cockatoos across the back with it. After the cockatoos spread their tails to defend themselves, the swamp hen threw lumps of the red sap at their tails.
The White-Tailed Black Cockatoos, their tails now stained red, became so hoarse from screaming that they could only vocalise 'karrak' instead of their usual 'wolah'.
(From a publication by Ethel Hassell - priv. publ, East Fremantle 1975)
ABOUT THE ‘FOREST RED-TAILED BLACK COCKATOO’
Scientific name: Calyptorhynchus banksii naso
The Forest Red-Tailed Black Cockatoo (Karrak) is one of five sub-species of Red-Tailed Black Cockatoos in Australia, and the only one endemic to south-west Western Australia.
The males are glossy black with two vibrant broad red stripes in the tail that are visible when taking off or alighting. They also have a very full crest and a black bill. Females are black but have yellow spots and yellow fringed feathers. The beak is a light grey and the tail feathers are bright red and orange, grading to yellow on the inner margins, with variable black horizontal barring. Both sexes are 55-60 cm in length.
The Karrak is monogamous and pairs probably form a lifetime bond. They mainly nest in tall, mature Marri trees, in deep hollows around 15m high, laying clutches of only one egg every second year. Karraks have an estimated life expectancy of 35 years and a generation length of 19 years.
The Karrak was formerly common within its range, but is now rare to uncommon and patchily distributed with an estimated and declining population is estimated of only 15 000 birds. Only about 10% of birds are thought to breed annually, and productivity is often low.
The Karrak has disappeared from 30% of its former range, having suffered a marked decline in numbers since the 1950s. Declines are attributed to the destruction and fragmentation of habitat, in particular Jarrah and Marri trees due to logging, clearing for agriculture and mining, bushfires and climate change. This loss of habitat is exacerbated by competition for nesting from other species of cockatoos and from feral populations of the European Honey Bee. The long-term effects of habitat loss may not be fully realised due to their longevity.