Rose Breasted Cockatoo Profile

Eolophus roseicapilla

» In Australia these birds are referred to as Galahs. Also called Roseate Cockatoo and Pink and Grey Cockatoo
» Range is throughout Australia
» Man's changes to the Australian landscape has actually increased the numbers of these cockatoos and they continue to increase in numbers. They are considered by many farmers to be an agricultural pest. 
» The word Galah is Aboriginal in origin and as come to mean "fool" with the expression of "as crazy as a Galah" being quite common in Australia.

These gorgeous little cockatoos can be excellent talkers. They are usually acrobatic, curious, and playful. Galahs are another ‘too who spends a lot of time on the ground in the wild so they need defined supervised time on the floor (on a clean sheet), table, or flat surface and a wide cage without a grate on the floor. If there is no grate, the Galah can play without getting his feathers caught. Rose-breasteds are active birds who need lots of exercise, play opportunities, and toys. They seem to have a fairly short attention span and usually will not concentrate on any given toy or play in any particular situation for very long. They like to go from task to task preferring  a sequence of adventures. They need ten little things instead of one to concentrate on. One caregiver reported to me that she believes that Galahs have long memories … every time she took her RBC to the upstairs, the bird will do the same exact behaviors even if she hasn’t been up there for months. The bird hates vacuum cleaners when she came to live with the woman at three years of age and has never forgotten that she hates vacuum cleaners. Most Galahs love baths both in the wild and as companions. They are a highly social bird that occurs in huge flocks in the wild but does not seem to form quite as strong a permanent bond as some of the other cockatoos. This can be a positive trait in that they generally don't form the strong sexual bond that some other cockatoos do and they will generally accept new people readily and often defer to the humans they perceive as flock leaders.

A healthy diet is critical because Galahs have a tendency to become fat and develop fatty tumors on a seed-only diet. I believe that these cockatoos should not be on a primarily pelleted diet and they should not be fed a manufactured diet full of artificial ingredients such as food coloring and chemical supplements. They should be fed a diet based on fresh foods including veggies and whole grains. Floor or table grazing should be supervised in a specific defined location. Birds who are allowed to wander will pick up and possibly ingest dangerous items. One Rose-breasted Cockatoo I worked with had continual problems with lead poisoning. After some detective work I discovered that the man was a plumbing contractor. He would come home and change his clothes immediately but, it turned out that there were many very small particles of lead in the cuffs of his pants. Their Galah was a grazer and was quite adept at finding these small particles and ingesting them. The solution was quite simple, the man changed his clothes at work before he came home. Gentle guidance is essential since these birds can be quite sensitive to aggression. 

As with most parrot-family birds, they do not do well with aggressive human personalities. For some reason some RBCs can exhibit extreme phobic behaviors and may suddenly reject the primary person in their life for no apparent reason. They then may form a more comfortable relationship with a person who has not shown a strong interest in them. This may happen when birds are poorly socialized, aggressively handled, or are overdependent on one caregiver. Birds who do not have their independent nature encouraged may develop fear as response to confusing events in their lives. Patience and letting them come back to you without pressure are the best ways to win their trust again.  I have worked with dozens of Galahs and many of them have been phobic. This, of course, does not mean that all Rose-breasteds become phobic at one time or another. It means that people were more likely to call me when they had problems with their birds. Once I worked with enough of these birds, I was able to devise a theory that I call “nurturing submission” that is very helpful. I call part of this "the chair exercise" which involves spending time calmly sitting next to the cage without making direct eye contact with the bird. Eye contact is limited to making "soft eyes" at the bird and then looking away and lowering your head. I believe that when a parrot becomes phobic, they go into "prey mode" and their previously trusted caregivers become predators to them. Calmly approaching them in an indirect manner helps them become curious and regain their trust while direct contact usually pushes them farther away. I have found these methods to be very successful with many of the phobic or excessively fearful Rose-breasted cockatoos that I have worked with. 

Rose-breasted cockatoos have been hybridized with both Major Mitchell's cockatoos and cockatiels creating some pretty odd looking cockatoos.




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