The rose-breasted cockatoo, usually known by its native Aboriginal Australian name galah, may be close to the perfect parrot species when it comes to suitability as a pet—at least for an owner who likes to play a lot with a pet bird. Extremely intelligent and enormously fond of humans, the bird readily can readily learn a wide vocabulary when trained diligently and is able to learn other complex tricks as well. As a native to the harsh conditions of central Australia, the rose-breasted cockatoo is also unusually hardy and free of many of the diseases and disorders common to other parrots.
TAXONOMIC NAME: Eolophus roseicapilla
RANGE: It is found throughout Australia, being absent only in the driest areas and the northern tip of the Cape York Peninsula.
HABITAT: Found in Australia and Tasmania’s savannas and open grasslands. Galah’s may also congregate in metropolitan areas.
PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS: Galahs are about 35 cm (14 in) long and weigh 270–350 g. It has a pale grey to mid-grey back, a pale grey rump, a pink face and chest, and a light pink mobile crest. It has a bone-colored beak, bare skin around the eyes and grey legs. The genders appear similar, however generally adult birds differ in the colour of the irises; the male has a very dark brown (almost black) irises, and the female has a mid-brown/red irises. The colours of the juveniles are duller than the adults.
LIFESPAN: Up to 50 years.
SOCIAL STRUCTURE: Galahs pair bond for life and will form loose bonds with other paired birds.
ACTIVE TIME: Diurnal
DIET: Wild: A wild galah’s natural diet is varied, consisting of several foods that will vary seasonally and depend upon location, mostly consisting of seeds, oats, wheat and several grasses. Galahs also dig in the dirt or grass for insects, larvae and shallow plant roots. A small portion of their diet is devoted to fruits. Galahs have also been known to consume agricultural crops.
Zoo: Veggies, fruits, cooked beans.
BEHAVIOR: Galahs are highly social birds. This species is sedentary, spending most of its time in one place. Galahs can be seen with other bird species such as the Sulphur-crested Cockatoo. When the group is eating, one bird will keep watch and if disturbed, the entire flock will fly off.
REPRODUCTION: Galahs reach sexually maturity around 5-6 years of age. Male Galahs perform courtship behaviors, such as ruffling feathers, raising crest feathers and bobbing their heads, to attract a female. Once the male is accepted as a mate, pair will nest in tree cavities. Average clutch size is about 2 eggs and the incubation period is about 25 days. They will stay in the nest for three months before they are weaned and able to survive on their own.
- The name Galah comes from its name in Yuwaalaraay and neighboring aboriginal languages where the bird is called gilaa.
- The term galah is also used as a derogatory term meaning idiot or fool in Australia.
RELATIONSHIP WITH PEOPLE: Galahs are often kept as pets. In Australia, the increase in their population has led to the locals deeming them a nuisance due to large flock sizes and the damage they can inflict on crops. Unlike most species, the Galah Cockatoo has flourished in developed and deforested areas because it has opened up grassland areas.