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Wildside Sanctuary - Eco Couples Retreat - Hawkesbury - Blue Mountains

Gang-gang cockatoo – the rocking redheads

Have you been outside and heard what sounds like a cork being pulled from a bottle? While that’s music to the ears of wine buffs, this creaky call gets a birder’s heart racing for an entirely different reason: It’s likely that you are in the presence of a Gang-gang cockatoo! They are our only cool climate parrot, and sadly have recently been listed as endangered.
These handsome romantics are monogamous, and pair up for life. Flashy males boast a vivid crimson head and wispy crest, and both the males and females are a mid-grey colour, with pink/yellow on the feather edges creating a barred effect. The females have also been issued with a topknot but as is typical for birds they miss out on the eye-catching crimson colouring, being grey all over. Adults are around 35 cm long, about half the size of yellow-tailed black cockatoos.
They’re not fussy eaters, and love the seeds from eucalypts, wattles and introduced hawthorns. They will also eat berries, occasional grubs, and nuts from fallen pinecones. They migrate short distances in the winter to warmer areas for better forage, returning to higher altitudes to breed.
Why are they in trouble? Their population has declined by about 70% over the past 20 years and during the 2019-20 fires they lost a further 30% of their habitat. With a preference for cooler areas, their range is likely to be further reduced by climate change. Their biggest threat has been loss of habitat due to forest clearing, depriving them of a food source and the very old trees containing hollows that they need for nesting sites.

We currently have a population in the Bilpin/Mountain Lagoon area,
so let’s keep them safe. As an endangered species, knowingly
removing or damaging any part of their habitat is a criminal offence
under the Biodiversity Conservation Act.
When you stay at either The Bower or Frog Hollow at Wildside
Sanctuary chances are you will hear or see members of our local
Gang-gang gang flying overhead. We are delighted that we seems to
have a stable population here that are regular visitors to our patch.
If you’d like to get more involved, BirdLife Australia offer a free online course Gang-gang Cockatoo Edu-Action, which gives you the know-how to make your property more inviting for the Gang-gang gang and to contribute to population monitoring. If you are lucky enough to identify a nest, the Blue Mountains Bird Observers would love to hear from you! They use cameras to monitor nests for breeding activity, and can be contacted via Facebook.
The name Gang-gang is thought to be from the Wiradjuri language
and it imitates their call. Try calling out to them and see if you get an
answer!

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