Photo by Jamieleigh Location: Centralia, WA Pictured: Galah "Bandit"
I get asked about my pet galahs A LOT. Pretty much everything you could possibly want to know about them, so I just sort of figured I'd write about some of their antics here. Many people want to get them now as pets, not realizing their still in the cockatoo family, so they're still... crazy.
Because I've always been around exotics, I like to compare macaws and cockatoos to leopards and tigers. I know, but I'm serious. Seriously.
Tigers give you a lot more time, show a lot more signs, and you can see them getting agitated or tired or starting to get worked up and hyper... playful. Just like a macaw. I feel like macaws give a lot more signs and warnings. Then there's leopards and cockatoos... it feels like you don't ever see it coming. One moment you're petting one and the next it's biting you with all its might because you did something wrong but it feels totally out of the blue and random. Well, with animals it's never random... there's always signs... we just miss them a lot.
Photo by Jamieleigh Location: On the road Kissing: Galah "Bondi"
Random biting... there is no such thing. Just in our minds. I feel that I can see something coming much easier with my female galah, Bondi, than I can with my male galah, Bandit. Bondi is just more of a "girl", she prefers less rough housing and more affection. She gets annoyed like any animal, and she will bite if she feels it's the only way to get her point across, but I have a much better read on her... most of the time.
With Bandit it tends to feel like he's much more short tempered. He will tolerate and then not tolerate in the least and if you miss the tiny in between part it takes to get there, you're screwed.
Photo by Jamieleigh Location: Centralia, WA Shown: Galah "Bandit"
The fact that I can even obtain pictures of Bandit is miraculous because he HATES cell phones. He knows they take pictures, and he will pose for them and the camera, but if you take too many or spend too much time on it... the camera is going DOWN. Anything that takes away attention from him, or cuts into his quality time somehow, it's at war with the Bandit Boy.
If you haven't seen the videos already, there are a ton on youtube of me trying to do quick tip videos with Bandit and him getting so pissed he eventually just goes over and takes down the camera himself. He can tell when I'm talking to it in a video and not him and he gets MAD.
Photo by Jamieleigh Location: On the road Shown: Galah "Bondi"
It's actually not uncommon for birds to get jealous of objects like that. I had an Amazon Parrot whom I was working with and happened to set him on a perch right by my home phone. Every time it rang I came over and he'd get excited, but then I'd answer the phone and ignore him and on about the third time - he attacked me for it. How rude of me to get him excited to see me and then give all my attention to that object instead! That's how they see it.
Bondi will get overly excited about shoes and socks. The dangerous part is she likes to chase them while you walk or put them on and chew on the rubber part or try to ruin the ends of your shoelaces by chewing the plastic part off... none of which is part of a complete healthy diet so we do our best to keep her away, sometimes we've done such a good job of it that she has face planted being so focused on the prize and missing.
All in all, our galahs keep us laughing, and if you have your heart set on one, out of my experience I would recommend females over males. I've just found the males more hormonal, more vocal, and more aggressive overall. But talk to more than one person who has one to see what their personal experience is with their own galahs, past galahs and talk to breeders as they'll know what the male vs female roles in the wild will be and how that will play into their behavior in captivity as a member of your family and home.
Article by Jamieleigh Womach. She has been working with parrots and toucans since the age of 17. She isn’t homeless but is home less than she prefers to be. She travels the world with her husband, daughter, and a flockful of parrots whom she shares the stage with.