Back in December, I wrote a post about the appearance of two new arrivals to a family of galahs (rose-breasted cockatoos) I’d been watching for a few months. Two galahs turned up in August last year, spent a lot of time preparing a nest in a tree hollow, and then in December two juveniles appeared in the nest as well. I said, in that earlier post, that I’d go through my records and work out the chronology of some of the events between August and December. Getting back to this took me a while, but with a book manuscript finally sent off last week, I’ve been able to pore through records and photos. The story has a few puzzles, at least to me. I’ll go through the details below. The photos here are not in any particular order. They are all from around December 22.
I first saw the adults on August 5. As the previous post said, a pair of galahs that looked similar had spent time preparing the same nest for quite a while during 2021, April to August, and then left, I think because of noise from a nearby building project. Just on a year later, two galahs were back at the nest. I am very curious whether it was the same pair as in 2021, but I can’t tell. Galahs are not common round here, I add; I don’t see them routinely.
The pair who arrived in August 2022 did some nest work and defended the site against some other birds. About a month later, September 2, a parrot of a different species (crimson rosella) took over the spot for a little while, when the galahs seemed to not be around. This made me think there could not have been eggs in the nest at that stage. A third galah, of similar size, also dropped by that month. On September 8, I saw (the?) two galahs mating, briefly, just outside the nest (no photos). A month later, an immature crimson rosella was poking its head from the galahs’ nest, and no galah was around to chase it away. So still no eggs? October 4 had some drama. I saw conflict at the nest between the galahs and a pair of gang-gangs. This is another beautiful species of parrot, quite a bit rarer and more elusive than the others I’ve mentioned. It’s the first time I’ve seen them interact with other birds. One of the galahs chased both gang-gangs off.
Then around October 8, the temperature went to freezing, or one degree above, overnight. That is unseasonably cold. After that, I did not see any galahs for nearly two months. I worried that the cold might have been too much for eggs, chicks, or even the adults. They seemed to have cleared out. Then on December 5, I saw galahs at the nest again. In early December I saw them fairly regularly, and on December 16, the two new arrivals appeared as well. So through at least much of the time after the cold snap when I saw no galahs, at least one adult must have been inside the nest, with eggs and then chicks. The incubation time is only 23 days or so, but by the time I saw the chicks, they’d grown up a bit. I wonder also if the September mating I’d seen was the mating.
On December 18, the two adults flew off, and as they went, one of the little ones flew also. I was watching with friends when it happened. The little one fell, initially, more than flew, heading precipitously down, but recovered and soared off with the adults. From that day, I never saw two juveniles at the nest – I think the initial flight is perhaps the departure flight, so the little one never returned.
For several more days, a single small head was visible, looking rather cautious, at the nest. I saw the adults feeding him (and those are the photos in this post), and then the last time I saw the family at all was December 22. The second chick had been sitting a little further out from the nest over the previous few days, looking like he was ready to go. From the 23rd, there was no sign of him. I suspect – hope – that the second chick had succeeded in his version of the toppling, unnerving flight I had seen from the first, was now independent; and with both chicks gone, the two adults also left the nest behind.
On January 23, another month later, I saw two adult galahs messing around at the nest. I again could not tell if it was the same pair, but hoped it was – hoped that the pair had come back to the scene of their success, all their defences and weathering the cold, and wanted to poke around their nest again. Perhaps to consider it for next season, perhaps just to remember the brief time they spent with their 2022 family.
This site describes galah eggs, incubation, and chicks.