A personal diary about life in a country town, Bungendore NSW Australia

Thursday 8 January 2004
Gang-gang cockatoos, Callocephalon fimbriatum

This is about photograph number twenty that I took of this pair of gang- gang cockatoos who were feeding on the cypress trees in front of our office. At first I used the telephoto through the glass window and when an hour later they were still there and we'd all ooohed and aaaahed from the steps of the office, I went closer. And closer. Close enough to hear the low growling noise they make when feeding. And I took these pictures.

When I looked up the Birds of Australia book at home, I learned that when they're feeding the don't care how close you come, they just move higher up the tree if they think you're threatening. The Gang-gang cockatoo Callocephalon fimbriatum comes from the true cockatoo family (Cacatuidae), and although they are sometimes mistaken as galahs (similar size but only the mature males have the red heads). There are hybrids known to have bred with galahs.

They were also mentioned in another book, we've just bought. The new Reader's Digest Book of the Road, (our old Road Atlas is out of date and only ever had a 'grand plan' approach to traveling. We used it when we went through the Barossa and Adelaide and decided it was time for an update.)

You always look for the details of where you live to see how good the rest of the guides to the country are. In it it said that the Gang-gang was a common site in Canberra gardens.

In the nearly eight years I've been here in Bungendore, these are the first gang gangs I've seen up close outside an aviary. Maybe I'm just unobservant or they don't come down into the Bungendore valley. At the instigation of Kate Carnell, in 1997 the bird was proclaimed as the Bird Emblem of the ACT, just as the Royal Bluebell is the floral emblem.

Maybe it's because I don't look up, I do see lots of the Bluebells at this time of the year however. The Gang-gangs apparently make a distinctive noise in flight, described as an upward inflected 'creaking door' noise or the sound of a cork coming out of a bottle without the 'pop' at the end.

I know that sound well, so I'm sure I'll recognise flying Gang-gangs when I hear them.





Gang-gangs have a cartoon appearance that's endearing, and their mannerisms and friendliness (or absence of fear) is what makes them desirable pets. They're hard to breed in captivity, most birds offered for sale are caught in the wild.
One site tells me that "A pair of Gang Gang's sell for around $2,500aus in Queensland."

The other aviary sites talk about how difficult it is to get them to breed and how they get distressed kept in cages and pull their feathers out. They have to be distracted with regular branches of the nuts and berries that they would eat in the wild.

So, leave them alone in the wild I reckon.



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Bungendore Country Diary by Fred Harden