Photo of the month – Going gaga over Gang Gang Cockatoos

For the past few months my family and I have been charmed by very special visitors – Gang Gang Cockatoos! They are often exceptionally quiet, and if it weren’t for catching out the corner of one eye the pieces of eucalypt nuts falling to the ground, or a flash of something red, we wouldn’t even know our backyard trees were being visited by these lovely birds. But once they start to talk their call is unmissable – crackly, wobbly and long drawn squawks (bird ID books describe their call as a ‘creaky door’).

A juvenile (male) Gang Gang Cockatoo. (Photo: David Pitts)

While Gang Gangs have visited our backyard trees in Autumn of previous years, this year has been a treat – several family groups have been feeding with their offspring and we have happily watched the youngsters perfect their tree climbing as well as improve their feeding finesse (not so many dropped fruits recently!).

Several other members of the NGT team have also been noticing Gang Gangs around their homes, such as in Nelson and near Rennick. The majority of the Gang Gang population as a whole is thought to undertake large seasonal movements following summer breeding (often large distances) to lowland areas outside their core range and in response to food availability. I’m quite hopeful that the occurrence of these immature birds in their family groups is a sign that there are also resident pairs breeding in the local landscape.

Birds of a feather – the different patterning and colour of Gang Gang Cockatoos. Left: Adult Male (photo: David Pitts). Middle: Juvenile Male (photo: Lauren Kivisalu). Right: Adult Female (photo: Lauren Kivisalu).

The species has reported declines in NSW over the last few decades and are now listed as vulnerable. They are also likely to have suffered widespread habitat loss as a result of recent wildfires across NSW and far east Gippsland and there is concern for their ability to recover.

We would like to get a sense of how the populations in south-west Victoria and south-east South Australia are going – we would love you to share any stories or observations (and photos!) you have for the Gang Gangs and you can do so by emailing us or call (08) 8797 8596.

Lauren Kivisalu
Lauren Kivisalu