Ciccone seems to be the place to be for Galahs (Eolophus roseicapillus) this week! Huge numbers were seen resting on power lines over the last few days. Galahs exhibit flocking behaviour and congregate at communal roost sites, frequently establishing near regular watering points and food sources; and with populations increasing markedly following successful young rearing.
Galahs are occasionally pests, causing damage to infrastructure (electricity cables etc), grasses and crops; primarily due to their habit of chewing for bill maintenance and habitually digging for juicy roots for moisture. There is a risk that they compete with other non-invasive species across the landscape for food resources or nest hollows. Large populations of Galahs are seen as a symptom of general ecological disturbance – exploding in numbers as a consequence of human alteration of the land (such as the construction of artificial environments like cereal crops) or good breeding season with high survival rates in young.
Natural habitats can be restored to increase the presence of mature hollow-bearing trees and minimise effects of high population numbers – but it takes time. Get outside on some of these lovely sunny mornings and get planting some native endemic trees and shrubs! Check out our Vegetation Types webpage to work out which trees are right for you (https://wildlife.lowecol.com.au/about/garden-for-wildlife/vegetation-maps/). It’s also wise to keep in mind that uncovered seed (chook food and pet bird seed) will encourage Galahs and this can be prevented by limiting access of such food supply to wild vertebrates.
Because Galahs are so common in urban environments, we often overlook their ecological significance. Galahs have an important role in the ecosystem as they act as native seed dispersers, tree pruners (they’re excellent at reducing the numbers of seed pods on Acacias to a level the tree can effectively support), nutrient recyclers, and cultural services (such as birdwatching!). Birds have strong ecological roles and so the environment benefits from the many actions of birds going about their day. So next time you are out and about, enjoy the colour and presence of these fun bird clowns hanging from the power lines around town!
Galahs in Ciccone (Images C. Heenan)