Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Galahs and the front lawn

A peculiarly Aussie post here featuring the Australian Galah (Birds in Backyards). For some they are a pet and a gorgeous bird to behold with much character. With such colours, they would readily appear on any birder's bucket list if they were rare. But they are everywhere!

For others the galah is a pest and a perceived threat to livelihood. In the bush, flocks can number in the thousands (My God the noise!) and then these seed-eaters can really monster a crop.

So there we have it. On the one hand beauty and character. On the other hand a management problem that threatens prosperity. A very Australian problem!

Australian galah Eolphus roseicapillus
These guys were photographed from the driver's seat (but through the passenger window!) when passing someone's front lawn at Cowes, Phillip Island. There were about 20 birds.

The Minister for funny walks

Look how keen to get stuck into the grass roots
That's what I was after!
So how are we approaching the issue of the galah? Well in typically (and somewhat embarrassingly) Australian fashion we: (1) Build a really big one ... And ...

"Rob kissing the galah" This is The Big Galah at Kimba, South Australia.
See the page at Triple J Road Trip Relay. Picture by Brendan Sando.
(2) Shoot the beggars ....

A few points .... (not trying to be political here - I just got quite interested in this!)
  • Unlike most cockatoos and parrots, galah numbers and range appear to be increasing (felt to be due to the increased feed which has resulted from clearing the land and cropping).
  • Native species of wildlife are protected in Australia. States have made it legal to shoot galahs in certain circumstances (trained and authorised gunmen, humane destruction codes etc).
  • Sometimes the rationale behind shooting is not so much to cull but to disperse. It is my understanding that this is labour intensive and that there has not been measurable proof of increased crop productivity.
  • There are some concerns that guidelines are not being followed when a cull is occurring
A few links ...
  • A Federal Government department sponsored website carries these guidelines for the shooting of pest birds including some scientific background. Here are some of the bodies involved:

As I read the material I have certainly felt that farmers need to be supported in their endeavours to protect their investment and work. Clearly the most ideal way is for research to guide us in choosing the most effective methods. If that involves culling through shooting or poisoning / gassing then that ought be performed by responsible and trained people. It is one thing to have job satisfaction with "a job well done". To me it is quite another to consider it "good fun".

From The New Kerang Times, 22nd February 1918. I'm yet to get an understanding of what this is about! Have they captured galahs and then released them at handicap distances for shooting? Is it just a name? Anyone know?
Sharing with Wild Bird Wednesday

Bird on!


  1. a very informative galah post Pete! Those colours sure do pack a punch, especially for those who haven't seen them. A pretty parrot I think. Nature and human nature are starting to come at odds in many cases...shame about that.

  2. Great post, I love these Galahs! A very pretty bird!

  3. Funny thing about galahs, at home, when they strip our nut trees and and all the leaves off the red gum and others they roost in, we curse them. When on holiday, we photograph the blighters. I've raise a few from tiny chicks in my time but let them go when they were fully mature.

  4. That's a fascinating post on a very Australian bird, Pete. Extremely interesting and beautifully illustrated! Issues like this always will raise difficult questions, and someone will, unfortunately, always be upset by the outcome, whatever it is!

  5. Interesting post on the Galahs.

  6. I remember the first time I saw these - I'd been in Australia about a week! My eyes almost failed!

    Cheers and thanks for the link to WBW - Stewart M - Melbourne

  7. HI Pete Many thanks for that informative report on Galahs It is a pity when birds and humans are in conflict. They are such a beautiful bird. Thanks for link to news report on Galahs. Margaret

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