The Gang-gang Cockatoo is not a common bird in the Hunter. They are more common in the ACT and in 1997 became the bird emblem for that state.
Gang-gangs are endemic to SE Australia and are widespread in Eastern Australia from Victoria to south and central-eastern NSW, with the Hunter being the extremity of their northern range. Each year in the winter months, small numbers of these birds migrate from the mountain forests they inhabit for the remainder of the to lower altitudes, such as the woodlands around Cessnock and Kurri Kurri.
Their preferred habitat is tall mountain forests and woodlands with dense shrubby understorey. The winter altitudinal migration places them in more open, drier forests where they are more likely to be seen beside the roads and in parks and gardens.
These birds are one of the prettiest of the cockatoo family. The male steals the show with a distinctive scarlet red head and wispy crest and the feathers of the underparts are edged pink and yellow. Much of the upper body feathers are edged with pale grey, giving a barred appearance. By comparison, the female has a dark grey head and crest and a reddish chest and belly.
They feed on berries, fruit, nuts and the seeds of native and introduced trees and shrubs, preferring eucalypts, wattles and introduced hawthorns. In the mountains they feed in flocks of up to 60 birds but in the winter months smaller flocks are formed.
Unlike other cockatoos, Gang-gangs are relatively quiet, and are usually located in food trees by the conversational growls made while feeding and the falling debris. Certainly, all the birds I have seen have been happily munching on gum nuts and berries.
They are small cockatoos with large broad wings and a short tail and in flight their shape resembles the galah. They swoop between trees underneath the canopy and their call, often heard before the bird is seen, sounds exactly like a creaky gate.
Gang-gang Cockatoos make strong monogamous pair bonds and need tree hollows to breed. It is the felling of old growth trees containing hollows through land clearing or logging that is affecting their ability to breed and has resulted in their vulnerable status in NSW.