Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Galahs love playing on the Powerlines.

Every now and then the Galahs of Robertson settle down on the power lines, to get into some serious preening. Galahs spend an enormous amount of time preening their feathers, and (as they are co-operative birds) preening eachother. Although these birds were part of larger flock, it is typical of Galahs that they sit closely, in pairs, even within a larger group.
A pair of Galahs, preening.
These photos are from several weeks back, taken on a particularly bright sunny afternoon, late in the afternoon (hence the bright, horizontal light).
One of the Galahs, suddenly decides it is time to "play"
Galahs are not "natural" to Robertson, which is a heavy rainforest area, originally. That makes us the natural habitat of Crimson Rosellas and King Parrots. However, humans moved in (in the 1860s), and cleared much of the forest. Then we put in a railway line, and then cart grain to Port Kembla (the port of Wollongong), for export overseas. Some of the grain inevitably drops off the train, and bingo, you have a permanent food source for Galahs.

For a Galah, "playing" includes chewing on the Power line.
This is safe for the Galah, as long as it only touches the one line, for the power runs safely through the bird (there is no "power differential"). It is only if it gets "earthed" or touches another line that it risks electrocution. Flying Foxes (Fruit Bats) get electrocuted, because they touch two lines at the one time, with their wings spread wide, whereas, Galahs land with their feet together on the one line.
The next thing is that people like to "feed the birds", and grain and food scraps are the normal food they leave out. That suits the Galahs too. In this particular case, there were in fact about 15 Galahs on the power lines along a country road, about 500 metres from the railway line, which tells me that the people along this road feed these Galahs. I am not a"purist", but I do not feed birds at my house. Instead, I try to provide a natural habitat for truly local (endemic) birds, not Galahs, nor Crested Pigeons, both of which are native birds, but not "natural" in Robertson.
And after a bit of "play", its back to serious preening.


Joe said...

Thank you for posting the beautiful Gala's exhibiting their comical behaviors!

The Gala is one of the most social of all parrot species. I am sure that you see very large flocks of this species!

Joe said...

I note that you reference the huge flying foxes. Do you ever run across this species?

Denis Wilson said...

Hi Joe

I see you came across my link to Flying Foxes. They visit Robertson briefly each summer, when certain fruit are ripe (including backyard fruit trees).

Galahs certainly are very social, but this area is a bit too wet for them (wet forest does not suit them, and even the cleared grazing properties have grass which is too long, so they are restricted to the township, normally. They love mowed grass, in which they dig for roots of plants, so people's front verges, and school sporting ovals suit them perfectly.

In Canberra, where I came from, it has been transformed into a dry savannah landscape (open grassland, and occasional large trees). That suits them well, and we get large flocks of them.

Out in their natural habitat (western New South Wales and Queensland) you still see them in their thousands, occasionally.