Showtime for galahs

Saturday, 16th August, 2014

Cracking pace ... Did you know that galahs can reach speeds of more than 70km/h? This pair of speedsters was caught on film by photographer David Cook. The end of winter is a busy time for our pink-feathered friends ... they are getting ready to mate. PICTURE: David Cook Cracking pace ... Did you know that galahs can reach speeds of more than 70km/h? This pair of speedsters was caught on film by photographer David Cook. The end of winter is a busy time for our pink-feathered friends ... they are getting ready to mate. PICTURE: David Cook

GALAHS are starting to show off and perform for their partners all over Australia, as they get ready for the breeding season.

Whether they are hanging out upside-down or playing soccer with pebbles on the ground, you will see plenty of playful activities at the moment.

“While often associated with noisy flocks, the Galah will be spending more time in pairs playing the goofy, loved-up parent around this time of year,” said Ms Susanna Bradshaw, CEO of the Foundation for National Parks & Wildlife.

“Towards the end of winter, Galahs begin renovations and interior decoration of their nest hollows for the arrival of their eggs.”

She said Galahs were a lot like humans in many ways.

“They belong to very complex social groups that change over time. When a beloved, life-long mate passes away, they are often observed in stages of grief and can slip into depression.”

Galahs spent much of the day sheltering in the shade of big trees to beat the heat.

“This might be where they developed their highly social, almost human, personalities as they entertain each other during the long, hot hours.”

The parrot will often mate for life and both parents will take turns raising their babies.

When the kids grow up they also have the same habit of occasionally sticking around the family home too long, resulting in some cunning parenting tactics to encourage them into the big, wide world.

Unfortunately, many people lump the Galahs into the same category as their noisy cousins, the Sulphur-crested Cockatoo.

Most of us are familiar with the high pitched “chi chi” call that the Galah makes, but Galahs don’t reach the same deafening decibels that the Sulphur-crested Cockatoo is capable of.

While both birds are very similar, the Galah is smaller, quieter and less destructive.

There are plenty of creative options for living more harmoniously with Galahs:

* Leave big, old trees in your garden (as long as they don’t pose a safety risk) so that Galahs have somewhere to nest and socialise.

* By giving Galahs areas of your garden where they are allowed to feed or chew wood, they should leave other places alone.

* If you love having these characters in your garden, it’s worthwhile installing a bird bath, as Galahs never stray too far from water and love playing in it.

“Galahs are wonderful birds and there are thousands of people world-wide who call these pink parrots pets,” said Ms Bradshaw.

“Their quirky, sociable personalities and ability to mimic our languages have made them good companion animals. However, they do require lots of attention and love, which they would normally get from birds in their flock.”

 

Backyard Buddies is a free program run by Australia’s Foundation for National Parks & Wildlife. Each month, you get a Backyard Buddies’ email (B-mail) with tips to make your backyard more inviting and safe for native animals. Galahs are featured in the August B-mail. Sign up for B-mail and download a free factsheet about Galahs at www.backyardbuddies.net.au.

 

Galah gossip

1. The Galah can breed with other cockatoos such as the Sulphur-crested, the Corella and the Major Mitchell. There are even reports of the Galah and the smaller Cockatiel producing offspring. See if you can spot these rare, unusual looking birds in a flock.

2. In the wild, Galahs usually live 25-30 years, however, as pets they can live for up to 80 years.

3. While not a migratory species, Galahs can travel large distances (over 50km) in search of food, often returning to the same roost sites each night.

4. Galahs are strong, fast flyers and can reach speeds exceeding 70 km/h.

5. The male and female Galah look almost identical, except for their eyes. The females have red eyes and the males have brown or black eyes.