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The Common Galah
Many people do not appreciate the character of our so called common Galah, but if given a chance they can delight even the more advanced aviculturists. Although not kept widely in aviaries by more advanced breeders, because of their common tag, the few people that do keep them can vouch for their pleasant nature and delightful playfulness. Although Galahs make great companions when kept as single pets in small cages, I must admit that I would rather see them in pairs set up for breeding purposes in aviaries. Aviary space is not a necessity to these cockatoos, they will be more then pleased in an aviary 1.8m long x 1.2m wide x 1.8m high, but larger would be better for them. Being very playful birds that spend lots of time on the ground, I believe suspended cages not to be suitable, although in saying that they have been housed and breed in them without many problems. My Galah aviaries are 2.8m long x 1.4m wide x 2m high, with concrete floors at the rear where feeding is done, and 10mm river gravel for the rest of the floor space. Drains have been installed for better rain drainage, drained by 60mm aggie pipe running through the middle of all aviaries. For me I enjoy seeing my birds having fun foraging on the aviary floors looking for spilt vegetables, fruit or nuts, which have been dropped from their containers. Like all my seed eaters my Galahs are fed in Thomson Aviary seed hopper products, fed at the rear of the aviaries under cover, with water done in glazed dishes at the very front by an automatic watering system. A sunflower and mixed seed diet is very adequate for these birds main food source, with a supplementary diet of most greeneries, apple, corn and other vegetables quite suitable.
Description of these birds is, common race only, general body parts darkish pink; forehead, crown and nape whitish-pink; wings and tail grey; vent, rump, upper tail whitish grey; iris dark brown in males and red in females. Immature birds have duller plumage and the iris is brown in both sexes.
Breeding in captivity is regularly achieved, but branches with gum leaves for nesting material must be provided. Sometimes blocking the entrance to the nest site with softwood for chewing stimulates breeding activity. A clutch of eggs is usually 3, but up to 5 is possible, with incubation lasting around 23days. Fledging is done 7 weeks later, with the parent birds feeding them for many weeks after that. I have placed Galah eggs under Alexandrine Parrots to hatch out one year, the reason for this was because I lost the cock bird and was concerned the hen would not rear the young by herself. They hatched them out, but after a few days refused to feed them and let them die. When taken away from their parents for hand rearing around 2 to 3 weeks is a usually a good age. Galahs are very noisy babies when hand rearing, with their cries for food being somewhat a little hard to bare at times. The end result is a beautifully tamed companion which usually stays very quiet.
Mutations are becoming more frequent in captivity, with birds such as Lutino, Blue, Cinnamon, and Albino now established in aviculture.
We in Australia are lucky to have three species of Galahs, the most common being the Eastern or common race (Eolophus roseicapillus), with the Western (Eolophus assimilis), and Northern (Eolophus kuhli), being the other two. The common races distribution covers most of Australia, with the Western only found in lower and central W.A., with the Northern and more rarest being found in the top end of W.A. and into the Northern Territory. Galahs are very hardy cockatoos with a size of 35cm, with the Kuhli only being 28 t0 30 cm.
In the wild breeding is done by rainfall, and in a good year double clutches are very possible. These birds nest in hollow stumps or trees ranging from 1 to 20 metres off the ground. After fledging the young birds stay in groups and can be seen congregating together with other birds while feeding. Australia is world known for its massive flocks of Galahs flying at great pace threw the sky. In some parts of the country flocks are so enormous that means of culling is done by poisoning or shooting to protect grain crops. This also destroys other species such as Corellas and Sulphur crested Cockatoos. This may seem a little unfair, but due to habitat decline these birds gather in huge numbers to fed on farmers crops such as sunflower etc. In the wild these birds feed on seeding grasses, fruits, berries, nuts, roots, buds, herbaceous plants, and grains such as oats, sunflower and wheat. As mentioned earlier they are very playful birds and in the wild they can be seen flying doing acrobaticle tricks, spinning in mid air and hanging upside down from electricity wires.
Yours in Aviculture, Paul Stevens.
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