After not seeing Gang-gang cockatoos in my Blue Mountains garden for several years I was delighted when  a lively group arrived.  There were lured by the ripening seeds on my various wattle trees  (acacias).

Acacia seed pods
Acacia seed pods

They have been returning almost every day. So far they have virtually stripped the Golden Wattle and the Pravissima……and pruned it in the process.

Gang-gang cockatoos in the wattle tree.
What a glorious sight. Feeding in my Golden Wattle.

They always appear to be bright-eyed and  smiling. Well,  it’s probably hard not to be chirpy with that fantastic  ‘hair’.

Male gang-gang cockatoo.
Happiness is a Gang-gang with his mouth full.

This Acacia pravissima took a bit of a battering before the group of 15 or so moved on;

Gang-gang feedin in Acacia pravissima.
Gang-gang feeding in Acacia pravissima.

So far they haven’t been tempted by my silver wattle, Acacia covenyi.    It’s  a bit disappointing, because they would look spectacular among the silvery grey pods.  The king parrots certainly love them.

King parot in the silver wattle
King parrot in the silver wattle.

The Gang-gangs  make funny little noises that remind me of chortling babies. Other people say the noise sounds like the twist of a corkscrew (yes, very true) and they are also, with good reason,  dubbed ‘creaky gate birds’.  But often they  just silently munch away. An engaging article in The Age  (November 1949) mentions this;

So quiet are the birds when feeding that even in the forest the only intimation one has of their presence in the gums is the thump of dropping twigs to the ground.

Mess left by gang-gang cockatoos.
Oh….you mean you didn’t want your tree pruned, Pauline?

And one can walk under the tree on the which birds are feasting before they casually take flight to a nearby bough. It is this complacency which, to my mind, has accounted for the scarcity in other years of this cockatoo. For, though darkish, the flesh is very palatable, and the bird has been an easy prey for both the boomerang and the gun.

Oh good grief, fancy these dear characters ending up in the pot!

Gang-gans feeding in acacia trees.

When you have eaten far too much and it is dreadfully hot,  move to the cool canopy of a maple with your mate..

Oh bliss.
Gang -gangs in the cool canopy of a maple tree.

The biggest threat to the cockatoos in the Blue Mountains is most likely to be competition for nest hollows, particularly  with sulphur crested cockatoos, whose numbers have increased so alarmingly. Gang-gangs lay from I-3 eggs, which are incubated for about 30 days. Monogamous pairs  share  nest building, incubation and  feeding of  the chicks. Their status in New South Wales is classed as  ‘vulnerable’, which is a concern.

Gang-gang cockatoo in nest hollow.

The correspondent in The Age also noted;

The old gang-gang has been described as the clown of the treetops and without doubt he is. …I  have watched these birds on a tree top all one day, preening each others feathers with all the comical antics of monkeys at play.’

Gang-gangs are easily tamed, although it’s much more fun to watch them in the wild. Apparently they are a bit temperamental, too. An owner may be greeted with a caress for six days of the week and a nasty nip on the seventh!

Of course I have a very special reason for finding the Gang-gangs so adorable.   Reverse the colours in this early morning photo of my darling husband Rob and SNAP!

gang gang and Rob Conolly....twins!
Haha….the likeness is uncanny!
Gang-gang couple.
Domestic bliss. Photo by Christina Adams.

I found the perfect Valentine’s gift for Rob this year. A new plate for his morning tea.

The gang-gang plate

Oh yes, and almost every gang-gang is left-‘handed’, like me. The bird below is a young male. He only has a red forehead, and a smaller crest.

Gang-gang feeding

This might be his Mum, or his sister;

Gang-gang feasting on acacia seeds.

I will miss you when you leave, Gang-gangs. Mind you, the trees will have a chance to recover!


YES! – The gang (get it?) finally moved to the beautiful silver wattle. It was day of rain and mist, but they didn’t mind at all.  However, those fancy ‘hairdos’ soon became very wet and slicked down.

Gamg-gang cockatoo in the silverwattle.
Pretty as a picture young Gang-gang.
Gang-gang cockatoo.

There is a primary school in the A.C.T which has the Gang-gang as its emblem….and  whose pupils wear colourful uniforms featuring scarlet and grey. Let’s hope there will still be plenty of the birds around when the kids grow up.

  1. For years of watched these Gang Gang Cockatoos from afar, on Facebook, Magazines, TV.
    I would love to see them in their natural environment but they did not habituate where I lived in Naracoorte & Bool Lagoon in South East of South Australia, then Adelaide SA.
    I now live in Geelong Victoria.

    Oh, for hair like that!

    • Pauline

      I have been enjoying them immensely, Heather. My trees are looking a bit the worse for wear though.

  2. How wonderful to see Pauline. Love Gang Gangs. We get them here, sometimes, during Autumn. They love the liquidamber seeds. But didn’t get them last Autumn – hopefully this year.

    • Pauline

      I had a couple in the garden a few years ago, but have never see nthis many. They are classed as ‘vulnerable’ in NSW, so was such a joy to see them.

  3. Delightful birds! More entertaining than the television!

    Thank you Pauline

  4. I think these are the cutest birds on Earth. A pity I don’t saw them around Melbourne.

    Greetings from Sander from the Netherlands

    • Pauline

      Thanks for your comment, Sander. Yes, they are very special birds.

  5. Thank you so much for your delightful article. Loved reading this!

  6. You are naughty Miss Pauline. Poor Dr Bob, although I confess there was a canny resemblance.

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