Galah Eolophus roseicapilla


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Galah Eolophus roseicapilla
  • LC Least Concern
  • Names (15)
  • Subspecies (3)

Identification

35–36 cm; male 345 g, female 311 g. Very distinctive medium-small cockatoo; plumage quite unlike that found in any member of closely related Cacatua, although both C. leadbeateri and C. moluccensis have varying degrees of pink suffusion. Medium-grey 

© David taylorParoo, Queensland, Australia 01 Jun 2010Macaulay Library ML 205571841eBird S65117425

with deep pink face, neck, nape and underparts, and a pinkish white cap 

© Nicholas TomneyKalamunda, Western Australia, Australia 04 Jul 2013Macaulay Library ML 204534771eBird S64996347

; periophthalmic ring carunculated and larger in male; male has dark brown eye, female pink. Juvenile 

© Stephen WallaceAustralian Capital Territory, Australia 29 Dec 2010Macaulay Library ML 205475131eBird S65106910

and immature both have brown eye. Races separated mainly on size and colour of periophthalmic ring: N race kuhli 

© Rob GijbelsVictoria-Daly, Northern Territory, Australia 18 Jul 2007Macaulay Library ML 206213111eBird S65206371

smaller 

© Gustavo A. RodriguezDarwin, Northern Territory, Australia 22 Jun 2008Macaulay Library ML 205415011eBird S65119337

than the other two; E race albiceps 

© Nicholas TalbotGreater Geelong, Victoria, Australia 12 Dec 2011Macaulay Library ML 205580521eBird S65117607

has crown 

© Nicholas TalbotHume, Victoria, Australia 26 Jan 2011Macaulay Library ML 205600001eBird S65117180

and nape white with pink tinge only at base of feathers; periophthalmic ring greyish white in nominate, pink 

© Fran TrabalonQueensland, Australia 

in other two races.

Systematics History

Editor’s Note: This article requires further editing work to merge existing content into the appropriate Subspecies sections. Please bear with us while this update takes place.Original type locality not clearly specified, leading to confusion as to which of races was nominate form; type specimen formerly thought to be from E Australia, with W populations awarded race assimilis, but discovery that specimen belonged to W race led to necessary revision of nomenclature. Has hybridized in the wild with Cacatua leadbeateri and C. sanguinea (1). Proposed form howei (described from C Australia) regarded as representing intergrades between nominate and albiceps (2). Three subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies


SUBSPECIES

Eolophus roseicapilla kuhli Scientific name definitions

E. r. kuhli

Distribution

N Western Australia (Kimberley) E to N Queensland.


SUBSPECIES

Eolophus roseicapilla roseicapilla Scientific name definitions

E. r. roseicapilla+1

Distribution

W and WC Australia E to S Northern Territory.


SUBSPECIES

Eolophus roseicapilla albiceps Scientific name definitions

Distribution

EC and E Australia W to Simpson Desert and S to Tasmania.

Distribution

Editor’s Note: Additional distribution information for this taxon can be found in the ‘Subspecies’ article above. In the future we will develop a range-wide distribution article.

Habitat

Originally occurred in woodland and grasslands of semi-arid and arid Australia; however, with considerable expansion of human settlement  , present species has found agricultural cropland and suburban parks  suitable alternative forms of habitat, and has expanded its distribution to the coast in most places.

Movement

Sociable, and usually found in large flocks of up to 1000 birds. Large flocks flying high in tight formation appear to be able to confuse raptors successfully. When moving to foraging areas, several pairs may fly together and can travel several kilometres to a favourite feeding site. Young birds more than 100 days old tend to disperse widely, wandering in juvenile flocks; this probably aided spread of species into wheatbelt and to coast.

Diet and Foraging

Cereal grains, and sunflower and sorghum seed all eaten; when nesting, prefers green seeding ErodiumEats  a wide variety of seeds gathered on the ground, usually feeding in flocks  of 10–1000 birds. When food is abundant, as in most summers, generally feeds twice a day, morning and evening, but drinks  only once; in winter, when food is in short supply, birds forage  for most of the day. Will undo stitching on bagged wheat in order to get at grain, and will fossick for undigested seeds in cattle and horse faeces. Flies strongly and very fast, and so is able to travel a long way between roost and food source.

Sounds and Vocal Behavior

Flight call is a short two-noted, somewhat muffled screeching “chee-chuh” or similar. When perched, vocabulary more diverse, with most notes having similar tonal quality to flight call. Alarm call a harsh husky drawn-out “khEh”.

Breeding

Laying Aug–Nov throughout most of range, but earlier in N tropics. Several pairs may breed in same patch of trees 

© David taylorParoo, Queensland, Australia 01 Jan 2009Macaulay Library ML 205601461eBird S65117203

within 10–80 m of each other. Thick bed of freshly cut leafy branchlets is prepared in a hollow 

© David taylorParoo, Queensland, Australia 01 Jan 2009Macaulay Library ML 205601471eBird S65117203

16–700 cm deep; these hollows defended 

© Josep del HoyoDeniliquin, New South Wales, Australia 28 Oct 2009Macaulay Library ML 205078581eBird S64821102

throughout year, and most pairs  roost nearby every night. 2–6 eggs (mean 4·3), laid at intervals of 2–3 days; after 3rd or 4th egg laid, male and female incubate in turn for 22–26 days; chick has sparse pink down; nestlings  remain in the hollow for 7 weeks, and fed by both parents; for first 8–10 days they are brooded by both parents in turn; because eggs hatch asynchronously, nestlings tend to vary in size and the brood may fledge over several days; fledging averages 49 days (45–59). Fledgling able to fly competently when it leaves the nest, and is taken by parents to a crèche in a nearby patch of trees; there they are fed  until all their siblings join them; whilst in crèche, they learn elements of fast, cohesive flock-flying, and perfect their landing skills, which are lacking at first; parents continue to feed their young in juvenile flocks for less than 2 months; these flocks tend to drift away from the breeding area, effectively separating young from their parents by the time they are c. 100 days old; one persistent pair flew 16 km from their nesting hollow, where they had roosted, to feed their young in a juvenile flock. Success: 82% of eggs hatch; 59% of all hatchlings fledge.

Conservation Status

Conservation status on BirdlifeLC Least Concern

Not globally threatened. CITES II. Common and secure; distribution has increased over the last 50 years. Regarded as pests of cereal crops by farmers, and killed under permit in some areas. Trapping and nest robbing for aviary trade are commonplace, but ineffective as an agricultural control measure. The sale of easily trapped young birds and their transport to another state for sale (e.g. from South Australia to Western Australia), which unfortunately is legal, has led to some genetic confusion: birds of this species, which make bad, biting pets, are often released by their disappointed temporary owners thousands of kilometres outside their natural range, and will readily mate with local birds.


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