Galahs are an iconic Australian bird and their engaging behaviour makes them a favourite of many people.
They are unmistakable, with their rose -pink and grey colouring and pale pink crown and have been referred to as a "Rose-breasted Cockatoo". The female bird has pink eyes while the males and young birds have dark brown.
They are noisy and often travel and feed in flocks of up to a thousand birds. They are most active at dawn and sunset and when they take to the air, they make an impressive sight.
Their raucous, screeching calls echo through the Australian landscape.
They are seed eaters and are often seen quietly feeding on grass seeds on the ground. They also eat seeds from wattle trees and Casuarinas and help the environment by dispersing these seeds to other areas, which then germinate and grow new trees.
They are powerful and fast flyers, clocking up to 70kms/hour, and are fearless, engaging in acrobatic, dare-devil acts such as flying at top speed through trees, weaving in and out through the branches and "looping the loop".
Galahs form pair bonds for life and only take a new partner if the other bird dies. In the wild their life expectancy is 40 years.
They nest in tree hollows lined with leaves and both sexes incubate the eggs and care for the young. Galahs feed their chicks by regurgitating food and young birds stay with their parents for months and sometimes years.
Young Galahs gather in crèche trees during the day and live in large nomadic flocks until they are four years old and ready to breed themselves.
Although they usually nest in spring, recently I have observed galahs protecting nest hollows and even carrying leaves, snipped from Jacaranda trees and Silky Oaks. Maybe it is a sign of an early spring? I will have to remember to check if these early nesting attempts are successful.
One of the most appealing and amazing sights is their clownish behaviour. These highly intelligent birds love to play the fool, sliding down wires, hanging upside down and tumbling, somersaulting, and wrestling each other on the ground.
This behaviour is so distinctive that that their name has entered the language in Australia where people clowning around are often referred to as being "a bit of a galah".
Hunter Bird Observers Club website can be found at: http://www.hboc.org.au/
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