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Habitat Ecology Information

What’s Lurking In Your Backyard? – #7 Galah

This series looks at the variety of fauna that may be found in the suburban backyard or local reserve and the diversity may be surprising to some people. The obvious fauna are the vast array of birds that are readily seen by day and some by night, but there are numerous species that are nocturnal. Some of these nocturnal species people are familiar with as they tramp across the roof at night with what sounds like hobnail boots on, or they hear fighting in the backyard over food and territory. Others are cryptic and may only be seen infrequently when they enter the house for warmth and shelter. Each week I will highlight a different species that may be found in and around Melbourne’s backyards, parks and reserves, some may be familiar others less so.

#7 Galah
(Eolophus roseicapilla)

The Galah is one of Australia’s iconic native cockatoo species and along with the Sulphur-crested Cockatoo has become a well-known domestic pet both in Australia and overseas. Easily recognized by its grey wings, white head and pink body and its raucous call, these birds are found almost across the whole of Australia. They have a strong beak for breaking open seed capsules, which many a person has inadvertently discovered when trying to pat a Galah. They can form large flocks of several hundreds in rural areas, but within the urban environment these flocks may consists of 20 or more individuals.

The Galah is primarily a seedeater and can be found grazing on the ground as well as foraging in trees for their preferred food source. Generally they feed in open areas such as parklands, roadsides and cropland. As they are easily tamed it is not uncommon for them to frequent the urban areas and feed off tables set up for feeding birds. This can be detrimental to both the birds and their owners as the Galah like the Cockatoo can be quite destructive and have been known to eat timber around the house when food is not available. As in other cases of wildlife feeding there can be health issues and feeding should be discouraged. Follow this link for more information: Feeding Wildlife.

Galah’s mate for life and will only take up a new mate when one of the partners dies. As with other members of the Cockatoo family they are hollow nesters, utilising tree hollows to lay their eggs and raise their young. They can lay up to 8 eggs, but 3-4 is the usual. Incubation is around 30 days and both parents care for the young. Breeding will vary depending on were they are in Australia but within the southern climes this is usually July – December.

The Galah is one of the native species that have benefitted from European occupation with the increase in watering points and additional food sources resulting from land clearing and cropping. This increase has been the source of irritation to farmers that can have crops severely damaged by large flocks of Galah’s invading their fields. Control methods for these problem flocks can be an issue and there has been recent controversy over their control.

The Galah however still remains the “clown” of the Australian birds with it often performing acrobatic antics in trees.

© Habitat Ecology 2012