Be Your Own Birder

Bird of the Week: Galah

Love is in the air this week, so what better bird to feature than a lovebird in that classic Valentine’s Day shade of pink? Meet the galah!

Galah

Galah – Photo by Graham Winterflood

Name: Galah, Rose-Breasted Cockatoo, Rosie
Scientific Name: Eolophus roseicapilla
Scientific Family: Cacatuidae (Cockatoos)

Habitat: These parrots prefer relatively open habitats with scattered trees for roosting, including open woodlands, scrub grassland, agricultural areas, parks, gardens and yards, even in urban and suburban areas. They avoid the driest arid deserts as well as thicker forests and jungles.

Range: Galahs are endemic to Australia, and have been introduced to Tasmania, where wild colonies thrive. Because these birds are popular pets when bred in captivity, the occasional escaped galah might be found just about anywhere. They are also common residents of zoos and aviaries around the world.

These birds have soft plumage colors, with a light gray above and spring-like pastel pink below, though the intensity of the colors can vary and some galahs are much brighter than others. The crown and nape are generally paler on all of these parrots, and may seem nearly whitish. There is a short crest, and the birds will raise and lower their crest with their different moods and emotions. The red-pink eye is surrounded by a bare patch of skin, and the strongly hooked bill is pale ivory or white. The undertail coverts are a darker gray, as is the tail and rump. In flight, the wingpit shows solid pink, typically darker than the body.

Galahs are very social and flocks of hundreds or even a thousand or more birds are not uncommon. They are noisy as well, with raspy screeches that can be overwhelming in large flocks. Despite their plump appearance, galahs are agile and flexible, and will twist into different positions as they forage for insects, seeds and fruit. They don’t migrate, but can be nomadic to follow seasonal rains for the best food sources. When those food sources include agricultural fields, the birds may do enough damage to be considered a nuisance and could be culled by authorized officials.

Galah Flock

Galah Flock – Photo by Jim Bendon

In the yard, galahs readily visit open feeding areas such as ground feeders and broad platforms. They will also take advantage of natural food sources such as berry bushes and suitable fruit trees, and often visit bird baths where there is enough room for a fiesty flock to drink and bathe. They can seem quite tame and easily get accustomed to humans.

Wouldn’t you just fall in love if these birds were to have a regular date in your yard?

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