Gang-gang cockatoo

From Wikipedia

Gang-gang cockatoo
Callocephalon fimbriatum male - Callum Brae.jpg
Adult male
Gang-gang female MJC01.jpg
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Psittaciformes
Family: Cacatuidae
Genus: Callocephalon
Lesson, R, 1837
C. fimbriatum
Binomial name
Callocephalon fimbriatum
( Grant, J, 1803)
Bird range gang-gang cockatoo.png
Range of C. fimbriatum

The gang-gang cockatoo (Callocephalon fimbriatum) is found in the cooler and wetter forests and woodlands of Australia, particularly alpine bushland. It is the only species placed in the genus Callocephalon. Mostly mild grey in colour with some lighter scalloping (more pronounced and buffy in females), the male has a red head and crest, while the female has a small fluffy grey crest. It ranges throughout south-eastern Australia. The gang-gang cockatoo is the faunal emblem of the Australian Capital Territory. It is easily identified by its distinctive call, which is described as resembling a creaky gate, or the sound of a cork being pulled from a wine bottle.

The name gang-gang comes from a New South Wales Aboriginal language, probably from one of the coastal languages, although possibly from Wiradjuri. It is probably an onomatopoeic name. [2]


In 1803 the British Royal Navy officer James Grant included an illustration of the gang-gang cockatoo in his book describing a voyage to the colony of New South Wales in Australia. Grant coined the binomial name Psittacus fimbriatus. [3] The gang-gang cockatoo is now the only species placed in the genus Callocephalon that was introduced in 1837 by the French naturalist René Lesson. [4] [5] The type locality is the Bass River in the state of Victoria. [6] The specific epithet is from Latin fimbriata meaning "fringed". The genus name combines the Ancient Greek kallos meaning "beauty" and kephalē meaning "head". [7] The species is monotypic: no subspecies are recognised. [5]

The gang-gang cockatoo was most often allied with the white cockatoos of the genus Cacatua. This has always been controversial due to the unusual appearance and coloration of the bird, especially its sexual dichromatism. New research has finally resolved the matter, with the gang-gang cockatoo being recognized as a distinctive early offshoot of the calyptorhynchine (dark) cockatoos. [8] Considering the robust phylogeny of the cockatoos now established, a comparison of characteristics gained and lost during the evolution of cockatoos suggests that the gang-gang cockatoo—while of course much changed and adapted during the perhaps 20 million years since its last common ancestor with any other living species lived—is probably still very similar in overall appearance to how the earliest cockatoos would have looked, and certainly the most primitive-looking of the species alive today.[ original research?]


The gang-gang cockatoo is a grey bird with a wispy crest. The head and crest is bright red in males, but dark grey in females. The edges of feathers in underparts have edges of yellow or pink. The edges of feathers on upperarts are slightly paler grey than the rest of the feather, which makes the bird look somewhat barred. Juvenile males can be distinguished by their brighter crowns and shorter crests, but otherwise look similar to the adult female. The birds are not easily mistaken for other cockatoos, but while in flight may resemble the Galah. Gang-gangs are very social birds, but not overly noisy. [9]

Distribution and habitat

The gang-gang is endemic to coastal regions of south-eastern Australia. They used to inhabit King Island off of Tasmania, but they have since gone extinct locally. They are an introduced species on Kangaroo Island. The gang-gang prefers forests and woodlands in the mountains with dense shrub understories. The birds migrate short distances during winter into more open habitats. They must migrate back to denser forests to breed, as they need tall trees in order to build nests. [9]

Behaviour and ecology

Unlike most other cockatoos, gang-gangs nest in young, solid trees, the females using their strong beaks to excavate nesting cavities. Also, they breed in the canopy of most trees.


Loss of older, hollow trees and loss of feeding habitat across south-eastern Australia through land clearing has led to a significant reduction in the numbers of this cockatoo in recent years. As a result, the gang-gang is now listed as vulnerable in New South Wales. [10] It is protected as a vulnerable species under the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 (NSW). [11] This protection status as a threatened species makes it a Tier 1 criminal offence for a person or corporation to knowingly damage the bird's habitat. [12] Damage is defined to include "damage caused by removing any part of the habitat". [13] Habitat is defined to include "an area periodically or occasionally occupied by a species". [14]

In July 2021, an Australian Department of the Environment and Energy spokesperson stated the population has declined by approximately 69% in the last three generations, or 21 years and in addition to this decline, the species has suffered direct mortality and habitat loss during the 2019–20 Australian bushfire season. Between 28 to 36 per cent of the species' distribution was impacted by the fires. The Gang-gang cockatoo is under re-evaluation as to whether it should be considered a near-threatened or vulnerable with a decision expected to be made sometime after April 2022. [15]



  1. ^ BirdLife International (2018). "Callocephalon fimbriatum". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2018: e.T22684755A131914594. doi: 10.2305/IUCN.UK.2018-2.RLTS.T22684755A131914594.en.
  2. ^ Gray, Jeannie; Fraser, Ian (2013). Australian Bird Names: A Complete Guide. Collingwood, VIC, Australia: CSIRO Publishing. p. 127. ISBN  9780643104709.
  3. ^ Grant, James (1803). The narrative of a voyage of discovery, performed in His Majesty's vessel the Lady Nelson, of sixty tons burthen with sliding keels, in the years 1800, 1801, and 1802, to New South Wales. London: T. Egerton. Plate opposite page 135.
  4. ^ Lesson, René (1837). "Histoire Naturelle". In Bougainville, Hyacinthe de (ed.). Journal de la navigation autour du globe, de la frégate La Thétis et de la corvette L'Espérance, pendant les années 1824, 1825 et 1826 : publié par ordre du roi sous les auspices du Département de la marine. 2. Paris: A. Bertrand. pp. 299–351 [311–318].
  5. ^ a b Gill, Frank; Donsker, David; Rasmussen, Pamela, eds. (January 2021). "Parrots, cockatoos". IOC World Bird List Version 11.1. International Ornithologists' Union. Retrieved 5 March 2021.
  6. ^ Peters, James Lee, ed. (1937). Check-List of Birds of the World. 3. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press. p. 173.
  7. ^ Jobling, James A. (2010). The Helm Dictionary of Scientific Bird Names. London: Christopher Helm. pp. 85, 159. ISBN  978-1-4081-2501-4.
  8. ^ Brown, D.M.; Toft, C.A. (1999). "Molecular systematics and biogeography of the cockatoos (Psittaciformes: Cacatuidae)". Auk. 116 (1): 141–157. doi: 10.2307/4089461. JSTOR  4089461.
  9. ^ a b "Gang-gang Cockatoo | BIRDS in BACKYARDS". Retrieved 2019-06-14.
  10. ^ Hughes, Lesley (2005). "Gang-gang Cockatoo - vulnerable species listing". NSW Scientific Committee - final determination. New South Wales Office of Environment & Heritage. Retrieved 21 November 2011.
  11. ^ Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 (NSW), Schedule 1: Part 3 Vulnerable species
  12. ^ Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 (NSW), s.2.4
  13. ^ Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 (NSW), s.1.6
  14. ^ Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 (NSW), s.1.6
  15. ^ Brown, Andrew (24 July 2021). "Gang-gang cockatoo set to be listed on threatened species list as endangered". The Canberra Times. The Canberra Times. Retrieved 2 August 2021.
  • Flegg, Jim (2002). Photographic Field Guide: Birds of Australia. Sydney & London: Reed New Holland. ISBN  1-876334-78-9.

External links