Gang-gang project update – April 2014


It has now been almost 3 months since the start of the project and the response has been fantastic. Reports of sightings to the on-line portal have now exceeded 720 with over 215 contributors providing their observations to the survey.  In addition, there have been 230 observations from other sources, all of which are now providing very useful information.

After the launch of the project on mid-March there was a great response with an average of around 12 reports per day, since falling to about 4 per day.  Whether the decline in the number of records is due to their being less birds in the area, or whether observers are no longer reporting their observations is unknown at this stage.  It is of interest though that the number of observations reported has fallen since the reversal to Eastern Standard Time.   We would be most interested to hear from those who initially provided regular reports and now no longer do to find out if the birds are no longer being sighted.  Please respond via

From observations so far, the suburbs with the most sightings are those that are on the edge of North Canberra and abut Mt Ainslie, Mt Majura, O’Connor Ridge and Black Mountain.  The only records from Belconnen are in Aranda with occasional observations from the John Knight Memorial Park and Gossan Hill in Bruce.  In South Canberra the most observations are from Curtin, Deakin and Yarralumla whilst Torrens and Fisher are the top suburbs from Woden and Weston Creek.  To date there are virtually no observations from Tuggeranong or Gungahlin.  Whether these observations reflect observer or Gang-gang distribution is unknown but past observations from the COG Garden Bird Survey tend to support the latter distribution.

Average group size has varied from 3.2 in February to 2.9 in March with an increase to 3.5 in April, although flock size has varied considerably from single observations to a maximum of 25 birds from Gossan Hill, Bruce on 10 April and 30 birds from Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve on 13 April.  There are still reports of young begging from adults.  As winter approaches it is important to record where birds are feeding, whether from trees and bushes or from feed provided by householders.


A most important part of the survey will be held over the week starting Wednesday May 21st.  This will be the second Muster.  We urge as many contributors as possible to participate by recording for each of the seven days the maximum number of Gang-gangs observed within a 100m radius around a site you designate.  For further details please log onto All observations are important, including those where no Gang-gangs are reported all week.  Observations can be reported on-line or on paper forms obtained from the website or at the COG meeting on May 14th.

Breeding sites

As noted in the March update, of particular importance will be to locate breeding sites within the survey area.  If anyone knows of breeding sites could they please let us know via  All information will be kept confidential so please DO NOT record the location of known nesting sites on the COG-ALA on-line data entry portal. Possible breeding sites are those where birds are seen to frequently inspect or visit hollows during the breeding season.  Sites where adults have been observed feeding young or where birds have been observed ‘hollow-inspecting’ very occasionally or out of the breeding season do not indicate breeding sites .

School and community engagement

The project team has been busy meeting with a range of people to drum up interest in the Gang-gang survey.  Our PCS rangers and field staff are particularly important observers in the rural and remote parts of the ACT and are being encouraged to report sightings. We have met with PCS staff at Casuarina Sands, Tidbinbilla and Namadgi depots and are especially chuffed to have the Ranger up at Bendora Dam, Brandon Galpin, keeping an eye out and sending in sightings.

We are also following up interest from ACT scout groups following the distribution of materials via the ACT Scouts Commissioner for Environment Activities, John Feint. We presented to a lively group of scouts at the 13th Canberra Scout Group at O’Connor.  Scout leader Graham Downie is a keen amateur birdo and the scouts had lots of good questions about Gang-gangs and birds. The group went home with Muster forms and an ID sheet to participate in the May Muster Count.  Scouts can use the May and future Gang-gang Muster counts toward their Environment Award (‘badge’).  Any COG members associated with local Scout groups who think their group might be interested in the Muster Count should contact the project team.

An article will appear in the first ACT auSSI Schools newsletter early this term to invite schools to participate in the Gang-gang survey and May Muster count.  We are also working on resource materials that will assist teachers/students compile a bird list for the schoolyard or as study site. This is being promoted as a companion activity to the Gang-gang survey or an enrichment exercise.  Campbell High School is starting off with bird watching as an enrichment activity and we are talking at the School Assembly in early May about the Gang-gang survey and Muster Count.

One of the of opportunities that may emerge from engaging with students and scouts interested in birds is the potential for a junior or youth chapter of COG that could organise youth based activities. There are keen kids out there and what a great outcome in COG’s 50th year.

If you have any queries or wish to report any problems please send an email to

The GG Project survey team

30 April 2014