by Annette Butterss
We moved from the city to a property on the Bellarine Peninsula, Victoria that combined plant nursery and display gardens along with natural bushland. Throughout the 12 (drought stricken) years we lived there we developed a keen interest in our resident birds and forged wonderful relationships with many of them – especially Magpies, ‘Esmerelda’, ‘Whiteback’ and their successive broods.
Our house had many floor to ceiling windows and a large deck overlooking gardens, bush and a dam – an idyllic spot to relax and observe wildlife interaction, behaviour and events as they unfolded.
Whilst magpies, grey butchers and noisy minas were by far the ‘regulars’ and therefore my favourites, this tale involves galahs – a terrible storm, soaked chicks and one set of determined parents.
We had experienced wild winds and torrential rain over two days and were surveying the damage when we heard the distinctive guttural call of a baby galah. He was soaked and heavy with water so we wrapped him up, took him home and placed him in large cage on the deck to dry out.
The next day, outside the kitchen window, I heard the same cry and spied another grounded baby galah. So now ‘Newman’ has his brother ‘George’ for company – nice.
The babies refused our offerings of food and we soon found out why - mum and dad were taking turns feeding them through the cage. A perfect arrangement we all agreed.
Later in the day we heard that familiar sound again…
Here waddled the third baby, he retreated for a second but was hurried on towards me by his mother! This is ‘Kramer’ - with crazy head feathers (yes, we were watching a bit of ‘Seinfeld’ at the time).
I still find it incredible that these wild birds governed by such a strong protective instinct trusted our good faith to mind their babies while their feathers dried out - to the extent of ‘placing’ this last one in our care. Of course it helped that the cage was in full view with wide bars to allow the parents to tend and feed their brood.
Several days later there was a loud pronouncement from the parents that all was well now – time to fly! We carried their protective enclosure onto the lawn, opened the top and all five soared into the air together.
A very happy reunion.
Thereafter all visiting galahs were supposed by us to be George, Newman and Kramer – I hope so.
Thanks Anette for your lovely story and pictures. -- Gitie, Ed