The birds were galahs, a type of cockatoo, and I’ve seen them nearly every day since. Galahs are one of Australia’s most common birds. The name “galah” comes from the indigenous Yuwaalaraay language of northern New South Wales. The word has also become Australian slang for a fool or idiot, perhaps because Australians have perceived the bird as a clown or not particularly smart.
The indigenous peoples of Australia had different stories about how the galah got its distinctive appearance. One version said the bald spot beneath the bird’s crest was caused by a lizard’s carelessness. Another story attributed the galah’s pink breast to blood lost in a battle, while in another, the galah becomes pink and gray after trying to help a dove ease the pain of a festering foot.
Here are some facts about galahs:
- Galahs congregate in large flocks, but they mate for life.
- Males and females have the same coloring, except for their eyes. Males have dark brown eyes, while females have pinkish-red eyes.
- Galahs eat vegetation, seeds, nuts, and berries. They grind or chew up objects to keep their beaks sharp.
- They nest in hollow trees and are the only cockatoo to strip bark from a tree around the nest’s entrance and line their nest with leaves.
- A typical clutch is two to five eggs, and both parents incubate the eggs and take care of the young. Baby birds stay in the nest for about 49 days.
- Galahs have a distinctive loud call, and captive galahs will often imitate voices and sounds.