Callocephalon - Callocephalon Fimbriatum - Gang-Gang Cockatoo
A single species genus within the larger Cockatoo family.
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.
Taxonomy and Systematics
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. 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.
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 under-stories. The birds migrate short distances during winter into more open habitats. However they must migrate back to denser forests to breed, as they need tall trees in order to build nests.
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.