The Australian Galah

GALAH
Cacatua roseicapilla

OTHER NAMES
Rose-breasted Cockatoo (USA usage), Rose Cockatoo.

 

SIZE
Length about 35 cm (14 "), weight about 300 to 400 grams

 

SEXING
The sexes are very similar except for the eye colour. A mature female will develop a coppery red iris while the male, and immature females, have a very dark iris.

 

SUBSPECIES
The common subspecies in aviculture and in the wild through much of Australia is C. r. roseicapillus. A second subspecies, C. r. assimilis, is found in much of Western Australia and is distinguished by a paler grey body colour. A third subspecies, C. r. kuhli, has been recognised in the northern part of Western Australia, and into the Northern Territory. It is a smaller bird, about 30 cm, and exhibits differences in the periopthalmic eye ring.

 

NATURAL OCCURRENCE
The Galah is one of the most widespread of Australia's parrots, being found in all states. It is only absent from the most arid country and from the tip of Cape York. It prefers open grasslands and woodland, is a common species in the cities and towns, and has adapted well to farmed land. The species is gregarious, often forming flocks of several hundreds, although when foraging for food these large flocks will often split into small groups, coming together again at the evening roost site. Feeding is often done on the ground and their food in the wild is dominantly seed, nuts and fruit, and they can cause major damage to cultivated grain crops. For this reason the bird is regarded as a pest species in many parts of its range, and licensed culling is permitted in certain states. The breeding season extends from July to December in the south and February to July in the tropical north. A nesting hollow is lined with leaves and twigs carried into the nest, and usually 3 or 4 eggs are laid. Incubation is shared by both parents over a 30 day period and the babies leave the nest at about 8 weeks old.

AVICULTURE
The Galah, like the Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, is commonly kept as a pet bird, but is rarely bred in aviaries in Australia due to the depressed effect on the price of any progeny caused by the ready availability of legally wild caught young birds. Like other members of the Cockatoo group, an aviary at least 5 metres by 1.2 metres by 2 metres high is required, constructed of materials to withstand the inevitable chewing that will occur. A nest box around a 60 to 90 cm deep and about 30 cm in diameter should be supplied. An essential requirement is to keep a constant supply of fresh branches of eucalyptus and other native trees available to avoid boredom.

A supply of leaves that can be used to line the nest box is also essential. Mate aggression can be a problem if older birds are introduced to each other but seems to be less of a problem with birds that are paired up at a young age. Another problem with breeding birds is that they seem to be very clumsy, and broken eggs are by no means uncommon. There appears to be no easy solution to this, although a nest box mounted at an angle or a nest box with a bottom chamber off to one side, so that the parents do not jump down onto the eggs, may be helpful. Alternatively patience is useful, since the problem seems to decrease with age.
The diet needs to be varied, balanced and interesting. A variety of seeds such as wheat, hulled oats, canary, and some grey striped sunflower, should be provided as well as a wide range of fresh vegetables and fruit. Animal protein is also beneficial, given by way of chicken or chop bones, mealworms or other grubs. A tendency of the species to become overweight should be guarded against, and there are arguments for the use of pellets rather than seed for the Galah. The encouragement of flying by the birds is also helpful. Galahs have a tendency to prefer to climb around the aviary rather than fly, and so careful siting of perches and food dishes can help to ensure the birds have to do some flying.

 

MUTATIONS
A lutino Galah (illustrated left) is becoming well established in Australian aviaries, while cinnamon, silver, and grey and white mutations are also known to exist.

 

PET POTENTIAL
The Galah can make an excellent pet, with even wild caught young birds capable of becoming affectionate and friendly birds. They will however often become a little unpredictable when mature, and should never be allowed to spend time on a shoulder. They are extremely playful and intelligent birds, which, like most cockatoos, need constant stimulation with toys to play with, and objects to chew, to keep them from getting bored. They are not generally noisy, apart from early morning and evening, although some are the exception to the rule. Both sexes can become good talkers, possibly with the males being somewhat better, however their talking ability is not usually on a par with either Sulphur-crested Cockatoos or the Corellas.

 

From: http://www.birdsnways.com/mowen/galah.htm
Accessed: 26/10/2000
Author: Mike Owen

 


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