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Gang Gang Cockatoo
by Paul Stevens

The gang Gang Cockatoo is one of my all time favorite birds, when in great feather they are very hard to beat, their squeaky door type noises are unique to them, they are truly a wonderful inclusion to any collection.


LOGO of the Society

The Hunter Valley Avicultural Society is very proud to have the unusual but beautiful Gang Gang Cockatoo as our clubs symbol. The club was formed in 1988 but the Gang Gang symbol has only been used since 1994.We use it on all our letterheads, on the front cover of our monthly magazine, The Hunter Valley AVI News, and also on our club T-shirts and Sloppy Joes. We are now in the process of using it on our appreciation plaques for our quest speakers etc. CAPTIVITY: This unusual but fascinating cockatoo is one of my all time favourite birds and is now kept by more and more Aviculturist, although it is not classed as a beginner’s bird. I personally keep two pairs of Gang Gangs and have had very little problems with them. This article relates to my own experiences with these funny little cockatoos.

HOUSING:

My Gang Gangs are housed in steel constructed aviaries measuring, 2.8m long, 1.4m wide and 2m high and are housed side by side with Major Mitchells Cockatoos ( cacatua leadbeateri ) without any problems.

Of course wire used is 25mm x 25mm square weld mesh because both these species have powerful beaks and would easily destroy a lesser grade wire. Perches are at least 60mm to 70mm round of natural hard wood with an extra piece hung vertical down from the roof on chain for chewing purposes. The roof is 2/3s covered and 1/3 open to the elements. The floor of the aviaries is 1/3 concrete ( at rear ) and 2/3s 10mm river gravel around 40mm deep.

All the aviaries have 300mm by 300mm pits in the centre with 60mm aggie pipe running along at the bottom and then connected into a separate pit, then drained out the storm water outlet.


Male Gang-Gang showing the distinct “feather duster” Comb

This system completely overcomes water lying on the floor of the aviaries. Both watering and sprinkler systems are provided in all aviaries and the water dishes are 250mm round by 100mm deep and made of smooth porcelain, easily cleaned. The bowls are cleaned out once a week.

 

FEEDING:

Feeding is done at the rear of each aviary in specially designed hoppers and all supplementary feed is done through swivel dishes at the front.

DIET:

My birds main diet consists of a small parrot mix with extra sunflower added. This is replaced once a week.

SUPPLEMENTARY DIET:

This consists of mixed veggies, mixed beans, sprouted mung beans, corn, apple, pear, orange, chicken bones, chop bones, endive, and spinach. This is fed whenever and not as a routine so they are not dependent on it. It is also fed mixed differently depending on availability. I do not go out of my way to supply gum nut branches etc, but I supplement this with mixed nuts.

NESTING:

All my birds including the Gang Gangs have natural logs with inspection doors and these stay in the aviaries all year round. I use 1part potting mix (with peat moss) to 2parts wood shavings for their nesting material. I have found no problems with this mix and is replaced as needed or before the nesting season.

PROBLEMS:

In captivity problems do occur with this cockatoo in feather plucking. I am fortunate not to have this problem with either of my pairs luckily they are in perfect feather. There have been lots of theories to this problem whether being stress related, boredom or diet related. My own feelings on this problem is that it is a combination of both stress and dietary, something they can get easily in the wild but is over looked in captivity. Some Gang Gangs adapt to an aviary diet better then others therefore do not stress out and don’t pluck because of it. But it is still only theory, if someone can prove the real reason I do believe they would make a lot of friends and a lot of Aviculturist very happy.

CONCLUSION:

(in captivity) I have had Gang Gangs for years and have found them to be a most fascinating little cockatoo. They have a great character and with their very unusual sounds will be part of my collection I hope forever. Although not very common in captivity, (for reasons), I believe they are a bird we must try to breed up so they do not ever become extinct.

IN THE WILD:

The Gang-Gang Cockatoo is restricted to the south-eastern parts of Australia, (see map) from Victoria up to the Barrington Tops area in NSW. It has declined since European settlement but is now getting quite common in the southern highlands. Adult males are distinctive with a bright scarlet red head with a greyish body plumage touched with white. Females are relatively all greyish with salmon coloured chest parts. Both sexes have a beautiful feather duster type crest. In the wild they feed on eucalypt seeds, fruit and insects and are very fond of red berries and introduced tree species. Once located, a food source is usually exploited until finished. With the Gang-Gang being strongly arboreal they very rarely come to the ground, only to drink. They are very commonly seen in parks and gardens around Canberra and other such cities feeding in low trees and can easily be touched when doing so.

DISTRIBUTION:

Whilst in Canberra attending a convention we were lucky enough to spot a group of Gang Gangs feeding in the trees just behind the cabins we were staying in.

There was a group of around 10 to 12 birds calling away to each other and to see and hear them in the wild so close was one of the most magical experiences I have ever witnessed. Breeding is mainly from September to January with both parents preparing the nesting site, mainly high up in a eucalypt tree near water. Two eggs are a usual clutch with incubation lasting around 20 to 22 days. The young fledge around 40 days later but will stay with their parents in small groups for up to 6 months.

CONCLUSION:

(in the wild) Let’s hope that this smallish cockatoo of only around 35cm in length will always have a place in the wild and not become extinct in years to come because of habitat clearance or foul play.

Yours in aviculture: Paul Stevens.