With its bright pink breast against its neat ash-grey body and a light pink crest, the Galah cockatoo (Eolophus rosiecapilla) charms with its pert posture and bobbing crest. Like white cockatoo varieties, galahs raise their crests instantaneously in surprise or fright. Reportedly “less nervous, less excitable, more independent and less affectionate than the white Cockatoos,” galahs are comparatively easier than larger cockatoos to keep as companion animals, but they remain high-maintenance companion birds. In the domestic setting, galahs require a minimum of three to four hours exercise time outside the cage to avoid such agitated behaviors as screaming, plucking or self-mutilation.
As galahs’ have a strong social bent and deep flocking instinct, The Spruce Pets, suggests a “cage-mate” for a companion galah in order to prevent depression and destructiveness when flock-member/parront can’t reliably set aside the necessary time and attention. Although smaller than other cockatoos, galahs require no less cage space. Spruce Pets suggests a minimum of 4 ft x 4 ft x 4ft.
Northern Parrots cautions: “Galahs . . . have a great need to gnaw and should have a twice weekly supply of branches cut from willow or apple trees.” Like all cockatoos, galahs have strong beaks and jaws, which they must use to keep healthy. Plan on providing a pet galah with LOTS of destructible toys!
Also known as the rose-breasted, or roseate, cockatoo, this relatively small member of the cockatoo family, weighs approximately 270-350 g/10-12 oz. and measures around 35 cm/10 inches. Galahs have fared well under colonization and urbanization due to the improved availability of water. Galahs have supplanted their relative, the Major Mitchell’s cockatoo (Lophochroa leadbeateri ) in parts of its native range. Found throughout Australia (except in the far north of Cape York Peninsula), wild galahs are particularly noticeable in and around Perth, Melbourne, and Adelaide.
According to The Spruce Pets, agricultural communities may view the galah as a pest, as galahs may eat grain crops and invade the artificial ponds and water tanks provided for livestock. While Australian wildlife law protects most wild birds, in agricultural regions, where permitted by the local government, trappers may remove galahs from their property.
Unscrupulous breeders may try to pass off a wild bird as aviary-raised. Typically, relative price is a tell-tale sign; further, a trapped galah may seem like a comparative deal considering its price is only about $50 above that of a hand-raised cockatiel. Another tell-tale sign is the banding: Australian law requires trappers to apply an open-circle band to identify wild-sourced birds (see below). The band should say WCA or WCB. When considering purchasing a galah, remember wild galahs may have parrot feather and beak disease; any respectable breeder will willingly do a PBFD test to verify the health of its birds prior to transfer.
Phylogenetically, the galah cockatoo constitutes a mono-genus, eolophus, in the same family as cockatoos, Cacatuidae, which holds 21 species. The galah is one of four mono-species and itself has three subspecies. Scientists believe both the galah and the Major Mitchell’s cockatoo diverged relatively early from the main cockatoo family. Most pet galahs outside Australia belong to the southeastern subspecies E. r. albiceps, which is distinguishable among the subspecies as having a rather deeper rose coloring and unique carunculated rings around the eyes. The smallest of the subspecies, whichhas lighter rose and grey coloring, the kuhli, inhabits northern Australia. Below, the three galahs of Instagram’s Galah Cockatoos (@galahcockatoos), Wallie, Elliot and Molly exemplify this smaller bird. The hybridized little corella, sometimes known as “galahtiels” (Cacatua sanguinea) crosses the galah with cockatiels. As hybridized birds, corellas can still breed with galahs. See our HatchLine page for an article about designation of corellas for population in reduction in . . . .
With a domestic lifespan up to 70 or 80 years,* a wild galah likely only lives into its twenties, due to vehicular collisions and predators such as the little eagle or various falcons. Males and females of the species are easily distinguished: males have brown irises while females have flirtishly pink ones. As this is not entirely reliable, DNA testing remains the option for certainty. In addition, those experienced with galahs can examine the caruncles of the eye to derive an approximate age: the older the bird, the more wrinkly the caruncle.
Graham Wobcke, a member of the medium.com community, reports that galahs affectionately nuzzle the hand as they are petted, as if in affection; they grind their beaks when feeling safe and content. Galahs readily imitate human language, just as the larger white cockatoos do. However, Northern Parrots cautions that their language learning is less facile such that their squawk may be less pleasurable when not balanced with talk.
According to Wobcke, female galahs reach reproductive age at around four to five years; they alone care for the chicks. Domestically, galahs are not easily bred, as they require an large supply of eucalyptus leaves with which they line their nests. While the Moluccan cockatoo, for instance, spends twelve weeks in the nest as a hatchling, galahs spend only seven weeks. Whereas the Moluccan may raise just one fledgling, the typical clutch of galahs is up to five.
Accustomed to eating, grasses, leaf buds, and even flowers like grevillias and banksia, in addition to seeds and the occasional insect in the wild, galahs — according to Wobcke — do well with a diet of seed mix, berries, and nuts, advises Wobcke. While they can and will eat corn, Wobcke observes corn seems to feed aggression in galahs. Northern Parrots advises a high-quality parakeet seed mix supplemented with millet spray and grass sprouts. If you are considering acquiring a galah, you may want to consult Northern Parrots comprehensive dietary suggestions.
Galahs generally need ten hours sleep per night. Like any other bird, they like to call with the rising and setting of the sun. Keeping them away from windows with bright exposure from the rising sun (northern or southern exposure, depending on your hemisphere!) can help moderate the loud calling.
Medically, above all galahs are prone to develop obesity from too little exercise combined with too rich a diet or too many treats. Like other parrots and cockatoos, they are also prone to fatty liver disease, lipomas, psittacine beak and feather disease (PBFD), feather-picking and other forms of mutilation.
If you are considering a galah as a companion animal, this 21-minute YouTube video by @Marlene McCohen is very good:
*NorthernParrots, however, gives a lifespan of only 50 years, which is probably closer to the average life span than the above apparent maximum lifespan.