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When the Gang drops by

August 15, 2022

It is always a joy when the ‘creaky-door’ call of the Gang-gang (Callocephalon fimbriatum) rings out as they make their smooth undulating flight across the valley. The male has a bright red head while the female is all grey with subtly wonderful flecking.

They don’t ‘live’ around the valleys because they prefer a tall forest to nest in. They are consequently more likely to visit in Autumn or Winter when breeding is complete. I have seen them eating hawthorn berries along the rail trail, and they eat lots of seeds from eucalypts, wattles and acacias which brings them to some heavy-fruiting gums and wattles in streets and gardens around the district.

The gang-gang is always a welcome visitor to our area and every year we see small flocks several times, but in other parts of its range it is increasingly endangered. They estimate that the 2019-2020 fires in Victoria, Canberra and NSW destroyed 18% of their habitat. In March 2022, it was declared to be an Endangered species in Australia on the recommendation of the Threatened Species Scientific Committee. That’s pretty serious; the next step is Critically Endangered and then Presumed Extinct.

When the gang-gangs come to town, you see them fly from tall gum tree to tall gum tree. The homeowners who hate gum trees and cut them down to replace them with ornamental pears or fast-growing pittosporums are rendering their area less attractive to gang-gangs – and most other native birds.

They are more shy than aggressive; I have never seen a Gang-gang gang gang up on other birds. Co-existence is preferred.

Photos by Chris Rowney, Warragul
Female Gang-gang
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