Monday, 23 June 2014

Galah's - The Acrobatic Clown's

galah jadewelchbirds jade welch cockatoo

The Galah is an Aussie Icon & Easily recognizable

The acrobat of the sky the Galah (Eolophus roseicapillus) can be seen gallivanting about the country either in pairs, family parties, in noisy flocks of hundreds to thousands or even in mixed flocks with other Cockatoo species. These birds are referred to in some parts of Australia as pink and greys or overseas as Rose-breasted Cockatoos. They are extremely common both in the wild and in captivity. 

Galahs are so well known for their antics that the word Galah is also used as slang in Australia. It is used in a sense to describe someone who acts the fool or is loud mouthed. If you’ve ever watched Galah’s swinging around the wire on an overhead powerline or stretching out their wings and making a raucous call whilst being soaked in a rain storm you will understand. 

Galahs are well adapted to human civilization and as matter of fact it has helped them spread. As bores, farm dams and more water sources have been created it has enabled the species to spread. As has the cultivation of many crops and to a lesser extent the escape/release of pet and aviary birds. It’s adaptability has ensured that it is safe to say that the Galah is Australia’s most wide spread Cockatoo species.

galahs drinking jadewelchbirds jade welch cockatoos

Galah's drinking at a man made damn - Bourke, NSW

For a bird with such a large range it is not surprising to see that they have a number of sub-species. Many of these sub-species overlap and interbreed and the same goes for escapees that may be of one sub-species but breed with the local population. Galahs are often seen on roadside verges picking at the ground to get to some of their favourite foods roots, fallen seeds, weeds, bulbs etc. They are also commonly seen around parks, feed lots, grain dumps and visiting crops.

Galahs looking for a hollow to nest in face competition from many bird and mammal species. Once a nest is found the pair will work on the nest and line it with leaves such as those of the Eucalypt. Young Galahs once flying are often moved into a flocking system known as a Crèche. This allows these highly intelligent birds to learn a great deal of behaviors to successfully live in the wild.

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Young Galah - Note the grey that young display through their chest.

Within captivity it must be taken into account that Galahs can live for a great deal of time and that they can at times be noisy. They require a low fat diet (preferably devoid of sunflower or if it is fed then in low amounts) as they are prone to obesity. A base daily diet of either pellets or a budgie mix along with fresh fruits and vegetables. Weeds such as Dendelion (Taraxacum officinale) and  Milk Thistle (Silybum marianum) are commonly consumed by Galahs in the wild and can also be fed in a captive situation. Also relished are some seeding grasses and in captivity they will enjoy these to as well as soaked or sprouted seed. Fresh water is obviously imperative.  

Galahs are hard chewers and enjoy a cage/aviary filled with branches etc to chew. The longer the aviary the better for Galahs and the greater the promotion of activities for the birds to undertake the better the chances are that boredom and obesity will be cut down. Galahs make delightful aviary subjects and pet birds and many are known for their vocabulary.  Galahs will take to nesting either in nestboxes or hollow logs within captivity.

galah lutino jadewelchbirds jade welch

Normal Galah left and Lutino Female on right

The added attraction to the Galah is that these days they come in a number of colour mutations. Colour mutations are naturally occurring and many of the colours mentioned have also been seen in the wild. Mutations of the Galah include pied, blue, lutino and cinnamon to name but a few. The lutino would have to be one of the most striking of all the mutations.  

blue galah jadewelchbirds jade welch pretty

Blue Galah - Blue in Galahs is recessive

cinnamon galah jadewelchbirds jade welch

Cinnamon Galah with pink suffusion through the back

pied galah jadewelchbirds jade welch cockatoo

Pied Galah - note the pied in the wings

Happy Birdkeeping.

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