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What is a Gang-Gang Cockatoo?

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  • Written By: S. Ashraf
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 10 November 2016
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The gang-gang cockatoo, scientifically classified as Callocephalon fimbriatum , is a small member of the cockatoo bird family with a stubby tail and long wings. When fully grown, gang-gang cockatoos are about 13-14 inches (32-37 cm) in length, weigh about 8.4-11.5 ounces (240-330 g) and have a wingspan of about 24.4-30 inches (62-76 cm). In appearance, gang-gangs are dark gray and have a distinctive wispy crest. The crest on the male is scarlet red, and the female has both a gray crest and a gray body. Only two species of cockatoo have red on the head, with the other being the Major Mitchell's cockatoo.

Geographically, the gang-gang cockatoo is limited to Australia and Tasmania in nature. It is not widely distributed in either location, though. Gang-gangs are found only along the inland areas and coast of southeastern Australia and in northern Tasmania. Its name comes from an aboriginal language that is spoken along the Australian coast.

The habitat of the gang-gang cockatoo varies with the season. In the summer, these birds live at higher altitudes and like to be in the tall forests and woodlands of the inland mountains. When winter comes, the gang-gang cockatoo might move to a lower altitude with a drier climate and less-dense woodlands and forests. During the winter season, it’s possible to see them in urban areas, usually in parks and gardens.

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For food, gang-gang cockatoos mostly prefer the seeds of trees such as acacias and the forest eucalyptus. They supplement this mainstay of their diet by also eating insects, fruits, nuts and berries, when they are available. The gang-gang cockatoo spends most of its life in trees and only when it needs to eat or drink does it go to the ground.

During breeding season, gang-gangs feed in small family groups or in pairs. At other times of the year, however, they will feed in flocks as large as 60 birds. A peculiar trait is that these birds invariably use their left foot to hold the food they are eating.

Breeding season lasts from October to January. The female gang-gang cockatoo selects where the nest will be, but both sexes make the nest ready for eggs. Nests are built in the hollows of tall trees, such as the eucalyptus, and are lined with wood chips made by the birds chewing at the edges of the hollow.

Two or three eggs are laid. Incubation takes about 30 days, and both parents sit on the eggs. After hatching, the parents feed the chicks for another four to six weeks.

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