Rose-breasted cockatoos—or “galahs”—are relatives of parrots that are often seen in city parks in Australia. Extremely gregarious, they will form noisy flocks of up to 1,000 birds. Rose-breasted cockatoos have heavy beaks that they use to crack open hard-shelled seeds and nuts. They are also used like a third limb for climbing or holding onto branches. These birds’ have “zygodactyl” feet, which means two toes face forward and two face backward. This is an adaptation for gripping food items while feeding and for climbing. At sunset, galahs begin pre-roosting acrobatics, flying swiftly in and out of trees, swooping down to the ground, and screeching loudly the whole time. “Galah” is the Aboriginal name for these birds (from the Yuwaalaraay, the language spoken by the indigenous people in what is now New South Wales) and was adopted into Australian English. It is also used as a slang term meaning “clown” or “fool,” derived from the noisy antics of these birds.
Within the large flocks that they form, most cockatoos form long-lasting mated pairs. During a courtship display, the male will raise his crest, weave his head from side to side, and strut along a branch toward the female, uttering soft chatters—the bird equivalent of sweet nothings—as he approaches. The courtship continues with mutual preening and mating. Nests are made in a tree hollow, typically one formed by termite activity, and both males and females incubate the nest and feed the young. Newly fledged birds leave the nest in about 45 days and gather into treetop nurseries of up to 100 birds. They become independent in six to eight weeks.
Rose-breasted cockatoos are found throughout Australia and Tasmania, primarily inhabiting city parks, arid shrublands, grasslands, and vegetated areas along streams and ponds.
Galahs eat a wide variety of seeds, roots, green shoots, leaf buds, insects, and insect larvae.
Adult rose-breasted cockatoos reach roughly 13 to 15 inches in body length. They weigh up to 12 ounces, and can live up to 60 years or more.