All my life I have heard the term “silly Galah” referring to someone acting the fool, mucking about etc. I suspect it is seldom used now, but was more common in my youth, and I did spend childhood time amongst country people who had every opportunity to see real Galahs. Of course Galahs (or Rose-breasted Cockatoos) are not at all silly, just cheeky, noisy and noisome, funny, clever and beautiful. They can be found almost everywhere in Australia, one of our most successful cockatoos, and don’t you love the colours!
As a child I lived with my grandparents in a small picturesque country town which I will revisit this week. Nanna and Pop kept two birds in big cages made of wired-in wooden crates just outside the back door. They called out to the birds through the flyscreen door, so of course both birds talked back. Joey was an Eastern Rosella who sang and danced as well as talking. “Joey want a bit of porridge” was his favourite as the oatmeal covered spoon was wiped over the wire of his cage, leaving thick globs of porridge for Joey to eat. The Galah was only known as Cocky, (fair enough) and his favourite noise was a loud screech when the back gate banged as a visitor entered. Cocky spoke too, but perhaps all that he said is not publishable in a nice blog like this. He would whistle the cats, and bark at the dog, and cry out “who’s there!”, all very entertaining for a child with nothing much to do!
This very old and faded image actually shows three birds in the cage, two Eastern Rosellas and Cocky, the Galah. Nanna is letting one of the cats lick the porridge spoon, while the others all wait. I think I was about 12 when I took this photo, and had probably gone to boarding school by then. Even as a child I was worried about birds being kept in cages, but they were usually brought in as injured young, rather than being stolen from the wild. My uncle had a quarrion, rescued from the road after being hit by a car. Maybe I will be able to photograph a quarrion or cockatiel for you later in the week when I am out west again.