The Great Ocean Road, Australia is home to many famous and beautiful cockatoos.
Sulphur-crested Cockatoos are white with a yellow crest – they are huge, noisy and numerous. Long-billed Corellas are also white but their crest is small and white, and they have a sweet voice.
Galahs are pink and grey, a little smaller, with a sweet voice. Yellow-tailed Black-cockatoos are the largest of all our cockatoos – they are black with patches of yellow on the tail and head.
But most surprising and rarest of all are the Gang-gang Cockatoos of the Great Ocean Road. They are dark grey, but the male has the most brilliant red head!
On a recent Great Ocean Road trip Wildlife Guide Brett was driving out of Little River town towards the coast when he saw flashes of red.
He knew what it meant instantly. There is no other creature that large with such a glowing vermillion shade of red.
He stopped and turned back. This was a rare opportunity. Seeing one male Gang-gang is wonderful. Seeing several is beyond fabulous.
As they returned, they saw a dead tree full of Gang gang cockatoos. The males stood out like Christmas lights on the stark grey branches.
On closer examination, they could see female Gang-gangs cuddled up beside the glowing males.
Female Gang gangs are dark grey with subtle yellow and red banding on their breasts and bellies. Close up, they rival the males for beauty. Can you spot the females in this photograph?
Young birds were present too – you can pick the young males from small amounts of red on their crest.
In all, there were 25 Gang-gang cockatoos in this tree near the Great Ocean Road.
The Great Ocean Road is a rich and varied environment. The Gang-gang Cockatoos were there because they breed in wet forests in high mountain areas in spring and summer. Along the Great Ocean Road, that environment exists in the Otways. Then in autumn (March, April, May), they move out of their breeding mountains with their babies and down towards the coast. This was when Brett and the group were lucky enough to be travelling past.
BirdLife Australia Gang Gang Fact Sheet: http://birdlife.org.au/bird-profile/gang-gang-cockatoo