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12

Galah

(Eolophus [Cacatua] roseicapilla)
Alternative names: "Rose-breasted Cockatoo", "Roseate Cockatoo", "Willie-willock", "Willock", "Goulie"
Aboriginal names: "galah", "gilaa" [gamilaraay, yuwaalaraay], "kalemji", "gillumba"

Size: 35-38 cm
Weight: 270-350 g
SUBSECTIONS:     Classification     Distribution     Sightings     Photos     Breeding     Nest     Eggs     Behaviour     Food     Call/s

Taxonomy, classification

See Galah at Wikipedia .

Range, habitat, finding this species

Click here for information on habitat and range

Sightings

Galahs are found in large numbers all over the continent, including the area of Narrabri NSW, where race "albiceps" is found. They normally appear in flocks of up to a few hundreds at a time to feed on seeds, primarily on the ground.

Click here for sighting information

Photos

Race "albiceps"

Not the photos you want? Or are you after even better quality? Have a look here .

Frontal view of a male Galah; the dark eye characterises this bird as a male
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, April 2012]

In this photo the male Galah is picking at one of its feet, thereby showing very clearly how its toes are aligned, with two toes pointing forward and two backward; Galahs are classified as "non-passerine" birds
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, April 2012]

Frontal view of a male Galah on the ground
[Eulah Creek, NSW, November 2011]

Male Galah with its head turned
[Eulah Creek, NSW, November 2011]

Lateral view of a male Galah feeding on grass seeds
[Eulah Creek, NSW, March 2012]

Dorsal view of a male Galah
[Eulah Creek, NSW, September 2011]

Male Galah displaying its crest
[Near Narrabri, NSW, 2006]

Close-up portrait of a female Galah, showing the warty skin around its eyes; the reddish iris characterises this bird as a female
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, April 2012]

Frontal view of a female Galah
[Eulah Creek, NSW, August 2011]

Lateral view of a female Galah
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, December 2010]

Sleeping Galah
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, April 2012]

Lateral view of a male Galah in flight
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, July 2014]

Pair of Galahs in flight
[Paroo Darling NP, NSW, March 2008]

Three Galahs in flight
[Near Narrabri, NSW, April 2011]

Flock of Galahs in flight
[Near Narrabri, NSW, 2006]

Direct comparison of an adult femae Galah, right, and a fledgling male, left; note the different colour patterns - the young bird has a lot more grey in its plumage; the eyerings are also different
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, December 2010]

Two fledgling Galahs just out of their nest
[Near Narrabri, NSW, November 2006]

Another fledgling male Galah
[Eulah Creek, NSW, November 2007]

Portrait of the same fledgling Galah as above
[Eulah Creek, NSW, November 2007]

Again the same fledgling Galah, now clambering to a vantage point from which to launch itself into the wind and fly away ; note the short tail typical of all fledgling birds
[Eulah Creek, NSW, November 2007]

This young male Galah was just learning how to feed itself; most of the time it still spent in a tree screeching to be fed
[Eulah Creek, NSW, January 2009]

Ruffled young Galah after a hefty shower; the local animal rescue team helped it until it had dried up, eaten and flown away again
[Near Narrabri, NSW, 2006]

Juvenile Galah being fed (photo courtesy of R. Plumtree)
[Ensay South, East Gippsland, VIC, January 2014]

Fledgling Galah being fed by dad; the young begging for food sound almost like donkey's calls - to make the parent regurgitate food, the young thrust their bill forward repeatedly in jerky motions
[Eulah Creek, NSW, October 2008]

Here a young Galah being groomed by one of its parents
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, December 2011]

This young Galah turned up in our garden without its parents; having to feed itself at a very young age, it was weak when found
[Eulah Creek, NSW, October 2014]

Breeding information

Breeding season: Aug - Nov Eggs: 3 - 6 Incubation period: 24 days Fledging age: 42 - 49 days

The breeding season depends significantly on geographical latitude. In the northern tropics Galahs breed Feb - May; given the right conditions, Galah can breed any time of the year. Cockatoos are sociable creatures which often nest in loose colonies, also in conjunction with other species.

In 2007 the first young Galahs fledged around mid-November, much later than the young of other species, such as e.g. Magpie-larks or Australian Magpies, both of which had their young out of the nests by mid-October, while the first batch of Welcome Swallows was already gone by mid-September.

Nest building: Male? Incubation: Male & female Dependent care: Male & female

Nest

"bungobittah", "malunna" = Nest [Aboriginal]

Type: Tree hollow Material: Leafy twigs, leaves Height above ground: 2 - 20 m

Galahs, like most other parrots and cockatoos, nest in holes of hollow tree trunks.

Male Galah guarding its nesting hollow
[Maules Creek, NSW, September 2011]

This male designer Galah has a home with a "Map of Australia" entrance!
[Yarrie Lake, near Wee Waa, NSW, September 2012]

A similar entrance as shown above - this nesting hollow, with its entrance hole, can be used to demonstrate several optimization techniques: the dead tree is standing in a swamp, which protects the nest against predators such as goannas; the opening is just big enough for a Galah to squeeze in, thus protecting the birds against larger, more powerful competitors such as e.g. Little Corellas or Sulphur-crested Cockatoos; the hollow itself is wider than the entrance hole, permitting the birds to sit comfortably and turn around inside
[Yarrie Lake, near Wee Waa, NSW, August 2013]

Here a female Galah sitting on the "doorstep"
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, October 2011]

Fledgling male Galah peeking out of its nest hole
[Near Narrabri, NSW, 2006]

Eggs

"boyanga", "booyanga", "derinya", "dirandil", "koomura", "ngampu", "nooluk", "pateena" = Egg; "dirundirri" = eggs [Aboriginal]; "gawu" = eggs [gamilaraay]

Size: 36 x 26 mm Colour: White Shape: Rounded

Behaviour

Social behaviour: Communal Mobility: Sedentary/dispersive Elementary unit: Flock

Near sunrise and sunset Galahs form organised flocks careening through the sky, at low altitude, with enormous speed and agility.

Like all seedeaters Galahs spend a lot of time on the ground, foraging in large flocks of up to hundreds, see photo below.

Where there is good tucker, there will be lots of Galahs
[Near Narrabri, NSW, 2006]

Galahs are often seen by us together with Little Corellas and/or Sulphur-crested Cockatoos in flocks of up to hundreds, especially where there is plenty of food (e.g. near commercial crops such as olive groves or grain storage facilities).

Also sometimes seen by us to hassle raptors. They don't swoop on the larger birds, but annoy them by accompanying them in a flock, attracting everybody's attention in the process (see photo below).

Flock of Galahs pestering a Whistling Kite
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, August 2010]

Like other parrots and cockatoos, Galahs can be playful at times.

Here an example why Australian English has the expression "Silly Galah" (I); this is the bird whose calls were recorded on 27 June 2014
[Near Bellata, NSW, June 2014]

Here an example why Australian English has the expression "Silly Galah" (II); this is the bird whose calls were recorded on 27 June 2014
[Near Bellata, NSW, June 2014]

Food, Diet

Adults: Seeds Dependents: Regurgitated seeds Water intake: Daily

Like basically all cockatoos, Galahs are seed-eaters, where seeds include those in cones and nut-like fruit, for example those of Acacia salicina (see below). We have also observed Galahs nibbling on the buds of eucalypt flowers and also on lawns.

Just like Little Corellas, Sulphur-crested Cockatoos and Red-winged Parrots, Galahs eat the fruit of Acacia salicina
[Eulah Creek, NSW, November 2007]

Lateral view of a female Galah feeding on a lawn
[Eulah Creek, NSW, October 2011]

Dorsal view of a Galah feeding on a lawn
[Eulah Creek, NSW, October 2011]

Grass from a lawn is hard to digest - here a flock of Galahs taking in grit first from a tennis clay court...
[Narrabri, NSW, July 2013]

... before moving on to the local cricket/football pitch
[Narrabri, NSW, July 2013]

Male Galah feeding on seeds
[Eulah Creek, NSW, May 2011]

This photo shows that Galahs, although mainly seed-eaters, do also feed on foliage if there are no seeds to be found in wintertime
[Eulah Creek, NSW, July 2010]

In fact, a small group of Galahs was observed by us in wintertime to rip into Buffalo grass
[Eulah Creek, NSW, July 2012]

Call/s

For this species we have recorded the following call/s. The interpretation of their meaning is our own; comments and suggestions for improvement are welcome.

galah_20140109.mp3 roseicapillus (NW NSW) Contact call MD
galah_20140723.mp3 roseicapillus (NW NSW) Contact call (in-flight) MD
galah_20140303.mp3 roseicapillus (NW NSW) Contact calls (in-flight) MD
galah_20140311.mp3 roseicapillus (NW NSW) Contact calls (in-flight) MD
galah_art_20131115.mp3 roseicapillus (SE QLD) Antics (in-flight) ART
galah_20140206.mp3 roseicapillus (NW NSW) Antics (in-flight) MD
galah_20140411.mp3 roseicapillus (NW NSW) Flock passing over MD
galah_20141027_2.mp3 roseicapillus (NW NSW) Begging calls MD
galah_20141027_3.mp3 roseicapillus (NW NSW) Begging calls, parents' response MD
galah_20141027.mp3 roseicapillus (NW NSW) Begging calls, other birds passing over MD
galah_20141018.mp3 roseicapillus (NW NSW) Adult feeding juvenile MD
galah_20140703.mp3 roseicapillus (NW NSW) Squabbling MD
galah_20140627_4.mp3 roseicapillus (NW NSW) Idle chatter MD
galah_20140627_3.mp3 roseicapillus (NW NSW) Various MD
galah_20140627_5.mp3 roseicapillus (NW NSW) Various MD
galah_20140627_6.mp3 roseicapillus (NW NSW) Various MD
galah_20140627.mp3 roseicapillus (NW NSW) Mixed flock with Cockatiels MD

We have also recorded the wing beat of a Galah.

galah_20140627_2.mp3 roseicapillus (NW NSW) Arrival at perch MD
galah_20140423.mp3 roseicapillus (NW NSW) Careening MD

These pages are largely based on our own observations. For more salient facts on any bird species please refer to a field guide.