Galah Fact File
The galah is a member of the cockatoo family and has a pink underside with a stocky build. Across the tops of the wings and the back the feathers are grey. The head is light pink and features a short crest of feathers which they can raise. Under the tail running down from the vent the feathers are a darker grey.
Their small beak is curved downwards and is colored ivory white. Males and females can be distinguished as the male has a brown iris while that of the females is red. The eye ring can be either white or red depending on locality.
On the foot two toes face forward and two face backwards which helps them to grab on to branches. It is also used to hold on to food.
Their body measures 35cm (14in) long and they weigh an average of 325g (12oz). Their wingspan is 75cm (29.5in) across.
Galahs are herbivores. Their diet is mostly made up of seeds which are taken on the ground.
With the expansion of grain farming they have become an agricultural pest as they will descend on fields in large numbers to eat the crop or eat it while it is awaiting storage.
The galah is one of the only species in Australia which can eat the poisonous paddy melon fruit. They will crack it open while rubbing their beak in dirt which creates a barrier to the poisons. This fruit is then left to dry in the sun and they can then return later to eat the seeds without harm.
Wild – 25 years
Captive – 80 years
Australia is the native home of the galah. Here they can be found across much of the country. Previously their range did not extend east past the Great Dividing Range or South of the Flinders Ranges. The clearing of woodland for farming allowed their expansion to the coastline in these areas.
They are also found on islands off the mainland including Tasmania.
Galahs are a common site within urban areas and will venture in to major cities across Australia.
An introduced population existed in New Zealand and may still be present.
They make their home in open habitats such as grassland or shrubland. Galahs are adaptable to human expansion and make use of playing fields to obtain seeds from the grass. They can also be found on farms.
Their habitat is often near a water source and the creation of dams for stock has greatly increased the availability of water sources.
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Breeding takes place from August to November though this occurs earlier in the south. Pairs are monogamous and remain together for life. If one member of the pair passes away they will form a new pair.
Pairs create a nest in a tree hollow. The bottom of the nest is lined with leaves.
In to the nest a female will deposit 3-4 eggs. These are white and oval shaped. Both parents will work together to incubate the eggs over the 24-30 day incubation period.
Infant mortality is high and only 50% of chicks which hatch survive to six months of age.
Fledging occurs within 6 to 8 weeks of hatching. Following their first flight the chicks will be moved to a crèche with other chicks in the area. The parents will feed them here for a further 6 to 8 weeks.
After this period the chicks leave the nest and will live with a flock of other juveniles for two to three years.
Sexual maturity is reached between three and four years old.
Galahs have been recorded to cross-breed with other members of the cockatoo species such as the sulphur-crested cockatoo.
Galahs gather in large flocks which will roost together at night. These flocks may travel long distances so they can reach food sources.
They are active by day though they retreat to the trees during the hottest parts of the day to rest.
Predators and Threats
Introduced predators such as the red fox prey on galahs.
No major threats are presented by humans to the galah. Instead they have been helped by human expansions which have created more habitat and provided abundant food sources to these animals.
Small numbers are collected for the pet trade though they breed readily in captive and this reduces the needs for this.
They are the most widespread member of the cockatoo family in Australia.
The name galah is taken from the name the indigenous people of Australia used for the bird.
In Australia galah is used as a slang term for someone who is acting silly.
Galahs are popular pets partially due to their ability to mimic human speech.
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Copyright. The Animal Facts.
Burnie, D., 2011. Animal. 3rd ed. London: DK
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BirdLife International. 2018. Eolophus roseicapilla. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2018: e.T22684758A131874469. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2018-2.RLTS.T22684758A131874469.en. Downloaded on 21 September 2020.
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