By J.L.Ruston

“What do toddlers and Sulphur Crested Cockatoos have in common? 

They’re smart, tumble, play tricks and make a lot of noise.” – Susanne Gervay OAM says in the synopsis of her new book Who’s the Gang in our Street? Which has already glided into the K-3 (years 3-4) Australian national curriculum for Australian birds within the social and emotional module due to its playful address on endearing values such as loyalty, inclusivity and playfulness,  from which we could learn from our cockatoo friends. 

The book launched on 4th September 2023 in timely accordance with a country-wide campaign called ‘clever cookie,’ which aims to learn from and protect the already protected Sulphur Crested Cockatoo from its poor public opinion.

Also like toddlers, Sulphur Crested Cockatoos are playful, affectionate, highly intelligent and teach each other mischievous tricks. The cockatoo seems to express more interest than most toddlers do in learning how to lift the lid on your rubbish bin to ravish the delights cast inside; however, It is merely a learned survival technique of a free bird living in the big city/ suburbia.

Astutely adapting to our ever-growing human world, the silent wisdom which continues to harmonize to their surroundings is a poignant reflection that while they gracefully coexist, we, the stewards of this planet, often dismiss them, poison or shoot them as we spend lifetimes inventing devices to keep our lives apart from the rest rather than learn how to adapt.

Native to Australia, the Aru Islands, New Guinea and their offshore islands, the sturdy birdy weighs on average just shy of 1kg. Sulpher crested cockatoos, which can live between 40-100 years, have developed an inclusive social structure that is, in rather UN-gang-like behaviour, very loyal and bully absent. Susanne Gervay OAM is an accredited child growth and development specialist with a deep, intuitive grapple on social behaviour. She is known for confronting social justice issues within her writing in a way that children can play with as well as absorb.

Who’s the Gang in our Street? Playfully addresses antibullying and our cockatoo disgruntles in one, teaching all ages how to take time to understand, accept and learn from one another to create a wholesome, rounded and welcome environment in this space that we all call home as nature intended, in harmonious coexistence. 

Tuesday, 3rd October, marked the last day of five for Susanne Gervay OAM, gifting her passionate wisdom and copies of her award-winning screenplay (adapted from her award-winning book series) I Am Jack to more than 1600 newly enriched scout cubs. 

Susanne joined Scouts NSW in their launch of a new anti bullying campaign and inspired all children, parents, teachers, workers and onlookers to be more patient, accepting and to have a laugh with the happenings around them. The lengths that Susanne will go to in order to achieve justice and witness the ubiquity of love fade out the warrant for hate.  

See some of the fun they had in the video below! – source, Susanne Gervay Instagram. 

Together, Susanne and illustrator Nancy Bevington brought lush forgivings into the streets of wild Australia. Educational, playful, and confronting, Susanne engulfed the essence of her spirit in her newest adventure.  

Let the resilience of the Sulphur Crested Cockatoo be a mirror to our consciousness, urging us to embrace the beauty in what we share, seeing everything that is attestation to the interconnectedness of life. Thank you Who’s the Gang in our Street? For bringing this further to our attention. 

From the Clever Cookie website – “We encourage everyone who encounters a marked Cockie to report their sighting – even if it’s the same bird day after day, we are interested! This information helps us learn about individual bird’s behaviour and that of the population. Report using the Bird City Birds app for tagged or painted birds, nest hollows, nocturnal roosts, and all the behaviours you observe.”

Aside from their website you can also contact them via email herecockatoo.wingtag@gmail.com.

Susanne Gervay OAM - Source, Supplied

More about sulfur Crested cockatoos;

They can fly up to 70kph.

Average wingspan is 45-55cm.

Their natural foods are seeds and native Australian trees. Having more familiar trees around them not only keeps them fed happily enough, they won’t care about your dustbin. They also keep the beautiful birds busy enough in pruning maintenance to not be as bothered with your balcony.

You can plant onion grass as they LOVE LOVE LOVE to feed on this. It can be used as a good distraction crop from something you’re trying to protect. No guarantees. 

For more tips and tricks grab the back of Who’s the Gang in our Street?!


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