Bird waterers

The Cockitrough: Designed and supplied by the Town of Victoria Park

Birds around the Town and metropolitan areas have been enjoying a drink from innovative bird waterers that help our feathered friends sustain themselves over Perth’s long hot summers. The Cockitrough has been tailored to provide water to conserve the declining numbers of black cockatoos across the south west of WA.

The original concept and prototype was designed and developed by our Parks operations team in 2018, to create a safe, clean, and low maintenance water source for the many bird species that visit remaining urban bushlands and trees in public open spaces. Now, a second and improved version (known as the "Cockitrough") has been ordered and installed at 70+ locations across the Perth metro area. 

Our bird waterers are an important contributor to our Urban Forest program, ensuring that we meet one of our strategic outcomes of “Improving Urban Ecosystems.” Find out more about our bird waterers below. 

The bird waterer story

Our Ecosystems and Parks and Operations teams have always been aware of community concerns over the increasing lack of clean and safe water sources for our endangered Carnaby’s Cockatoos, Baudin’s Cockatoos, and Vulnerable Forest Red Tailed Cockatoos, as we continue to try and balance urban development and nature conservation.

The team knew that there was nothing ready off the shelves to meet the criteria of:

  • Low maintenance bird waterers structures
  • Access to clean water for birdlife
  • Access to safe water - away from busy roads and predators
  • Able to be installed easily in public spaces where birdlife naturally visit
  • Cost effective for the local government and the conservation community
  • Made specifically for Black Cockatoos of the South West of WA.

As a result, our team members sat down one day and drew their ideas on a whiteboard and sketched a design on paper - which was enough to develop two prototypes now located at Alday Reserve and Rayment Park. Now, we see our bird waterers being ordered, purchased and installed in locations around the Perth metro by other local governments, community organisations, and businesses. 

Our bird waterers are self-funding and all sales proceeds to further research and development of the urban ecosystem enhancement and the installation of new Cockitrough’s within the Town.

The story behind our bird waterers (video)

The design innovation behind the Town's bird waterers (video)

The positive impact of our bird waterers (video)

In the news:

Murdoch University article: Lotterywest and Murdoch to keep Carnaby's flying

Murdoch University website: The value of water

PerthNow article: Bird watering stations to be installed throughout Nedlands over 10 years

City of Cockburn article: Off grid bird waterer first for City

The project team

The original concept was designed by Gregor Wilson, who arranged construction of the first two prototypes. The structures were further developed by Stephen Szydlowski and our Natural Areas Team at the Town, resulting in a new design, version 2, now known as the "Cockitrough".

Along the way and as we continued to update our bird waterer designs, we also had the opportunity to work with WA’s experts in their fields. A full list of our project team is listed below.

  • Project Manager: Stephen Szydlowski, Town of Victoria Park
  • Concept Design; Gregor Wilson, Town of Victoria Park
  • Parks Operational Staff at the Town of Victoria Park
  • Community Conservation Grant: Foundation for National Parks & Wildlife
  • Birdlife WA
  • Friends of Jirdarup
  • Manufacturer: Kel Steel Construction
  • Galactic Cooperative: Technology additions
  • Wrought iron signs: Martin Jaine Sculptures
  • Ornithological advice: Ron Johnstone, WA Museum 

Bird waterer design

Original (prototype design)

The prototype design has two water troughs located 3m above the ground on a pole bolted to a secure reinforced concrete foundation. These troughs are then refilled via a pipe through the pole controlled by an irrigation valve to provide fresh water twice a day from any mains water supply.
Each of the troughs has a reo bar perch on one side and a wooden perch on the other to suit birds of all shapes and sizes. The prototype enabled the team to identify and resolve early flaws in the design. Most importantly, it tested the dimensions of the structural engineering that allowed the water to flush through to deliver clean fresh water. You can see the original bird waterers at Alday and Rayment Parks in the Town of Victoria Park. 
Improved Cockitrough

Despite many visits from smaller bird species to the prototype bird waterer, it was obvious after the first summer’s trial that it lacked the size and structure to accommodate the many flocks of forest red-tailed black cockatoos that regularly visit Jirdarup Bushland within the Town.

After consulting with ornithologist, Ron Johnstone at the Western Australian Museum, and a network of the bird-loving community connected to Jirdarup Bushland, the Bird Waterer team created a new design.

The newly designed bird waterer, unveiled in September 2020, was extended to 4m high with four larger troughs and chunky jarrah perches to accommodate 12 or more black cockatoos at any one time. The wooden perches are an important feature of the new design, which provides a natural surface for black cockatoos to gnaw and sharpen their beaks and maintain their claws. 

This new and improved version of the bird waterers are what you see at Jirdarup Bushland, Memorial Park and GO Edwards Park around Town, and across the metropolitan area.

Advantages of the bird waterer design 
  • The troughs, unlike baths, flush clean leaf litter when automatically refilled
  • It is refilled via a battery-operated irrigation control valve to compensate for use and evaporation
  • The water is located three to four metres above the ground, so that predators and people can’t interfere with the birds or water
  • Provides an ideal place of attraction for bird watchers
  • The wooden perches provide a surface for black cockatoos to sharpen their beaks and maintain their claws
  • Manufacture is simple and cost effective
  • They are a genuine enhancement to an area of surrounding diverse local flora that attract local birdlife.

Benefits of our bird waterers

Nature conservation 
Bird Waterer stations provide a permanent fresh water supply for birdlife across an ecologically fragmented urban landscape. The structures can also connect and signpost the direction for rebuilding wildlife corridors throughout an urban setting consisting largely of bitumen, concrete, bricks, and mortar.

In effect, these natural area enhancements can be the structural steppingstones to inspire and reconnect urban ecosystems. 

Urban Forest program enhancement 
The Town of Victoria Park, like many local governments, is implementing a long-term urban forest strategy to raise its local tree species canopy cover and enhance biodiversity of a densely subdivided suburban landscape.

Around Town, our Urban Forest program has identified public areas, parks, and verges which can benefit from more tree and low shrub planting using flora propagated from remaining natural bushland within Town, together with the bird waterers structures. 

This will help to:

  • increase vegetation, supporting our local flora and fauna;
  • support the Town's 20% urban forest canopy cover target;
  • improve the ecology of the Town, making it a healthier and happier place to live. 

Supporting bird life photography
Visitors to Kensington Bushland, Harold Rossiter Park and Rayment Park do not have to wait long to see singing honeyeaters, red wattle birds, willy wag tails, ravens and even red-tailed black cockatoos happily drinking from the waterers. 

Kensington Bushland and the surrounding re-vegetated areas was renamed Jirdarup Precinct, which is the Wadjuk Noognar name for ‘Place for Birds’ in 2015. Bird watchers travel from far and wide to visit this inner-urban sanctuary of surviving banksia woodland, where they may find over 50 different species thriving in their natural habitat. 

Collaboration for innovation 
The bird waterers project has opened up collaboration opportunities with other local governments and conservation groups to come up with even greater possibilities and innovations, including solar powering the water pumps and adding a camera sensor to help with the Great Cockie counts!

Bird waterer locations

Keep an eye out for bird waterers around the Town and Perth metro, delivering safe access to clean water to our precious bird life.

Within the Town

  • Rayment Park 
  • Alday Park 
  • Memorial Park 
  • GO Edwards 
  • Jirdarup Bushland
  • Harold Rossiter Reserve

In the metro area

  • City of South Perth 
  • City of Bayswater 
  • City of Melville 
  • City of Armadale 
  • City of Kwinana 
  • City of Gosnells
  • Edith Cowan University - Joondalup Campus
  • City of Mandurah (Birdlife WA install)
  • Riverton Primary School
  • 115 Hamilton Sustainable Development Residential Area 
  • Town of Mosman Park 
  • City of Stirling 
  • City of Vincent 
  • Rossmoyne Kindergarten 
  • Willetton Primary School 
  • City of Nedlands 
  • City of Kalamunda 
  • All Saints College 
  • City of Swan

Bird Waterer Criteria

Cockitrough Location Criteria

The following criteria is used to assess new ‘Cockitroughs’ locations proposed within the Town of Victoria Park.

Location Criteria:

(Not all criteria is required to be met)

  1. Located on Town owned property.
  2. Located within or near Urban Ecosystem (ecozoning) planting.
  3. Located within or near remnant urban bushland.
  4. Near to known natural food species for black cockatoos.
  5. Near to black cockatoo habitat species and roosting areas.
  6. Safe distance away from external threats (vehicles and overhead power lines).
  7. Distance from a viable mains water supply for ‘Cockitrough’ connection.
  8. Located within an area that promotes the strategic objectives of the Town’s Urban Forest Strategy.

Protection of existing habitat is the Town’s priority allowing cockatoos to thrive in their natural environment. This is achieved by retaining trees on private and public property (not removing them).


How to order a bird waterer

Bird waterers are manufactured locally. To order a bird waterer or for more information on the design and installation of these structures, please get in touch by:

  • Email: (with subject heading - Bird Waterers)
  • Phone: (08) 9311 8111 (ask to be connected to the bird waterers project team in the Natural Areas Department)

Click on our gallery below to view images of our bird waterers in the wild:


Related information:

Bird waterer pamphlet

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