October 19, 2012

Horse 1381 - Flamin' Galahs

There is an old story that says that the best way to cook a galah is to put it into a pot of water, along with peas, carrots, celery and the other vegetables, add a lump of granite, and then boil; when the granite has turned soft, then the galah is ready to eat.
Now I don't know if this is a story with any basis in fact because galah meat is really tough, or whether it's trying to make a point about the supposed stubbornness of these birds but I do know that the poor old galah has taken a bit of a bum wrap over the years.

Galahs like the cockatoo are seed eaters. Also like the cockatoo, they have a distinct habit of scratching the ground to get at the little seeds that they want to eat. I don't know if this makes them any more or less messy than say a cockatoo or parrot but I wouldn't think so.

I've remarked in the past that when the people of the First Fleet spent those first few weeks in this new and bewildering land, that hearing the sounds of a cockatoo in the late evening must have seemed very scary and weird to someone who had never heard anything remotely close to it before. The galah on the other hand doesn't make such an awful din and when you get a large flock together, they're really quite orderly.
With their grey wings, white caps and fantastic pink waistcoats, in large groups they look like the meeting of aldermen or perhaps one of London's clubs that appeared in the late 18th century. No human could get away with such an outfit unless they were either on a sporting field, or unless they happened to be Jeff Kennett. If you replace the pink for blue and they grey for yellow and you pretty well much have the kit for the West Coast Eagles AFL team.
Unlike the mynahs which like to dive bomb my cats and who attack much larger birds by ganging up on them, galahs are far far far less violent. I can't honestly recall seeing a galah ever being in an airspace war with another bird, even though I suppose that it must happen at some point.

I will concede that they're not the most majestic of birds when flying but they're still quite pretty and look purposeful. They're also quite a lot more intelligent than we give them credit for. When we tell people not to be a galah, we mean for them not to act so foolishly. Galahs though, know how close they can get to people and also know that they can stand on the central median strip of a divided carriageway in safety and impunity. They do like to sit in the wattle tree out the front of my house and will regard me quietly as I trundle forth and back with the lawnmower because they know that after I've mowed our sorry excuse for a lawn, that their job to scratch for seeds has been done for them and all they then need to do is have a snack. No other kind of bird that I see in the front yard has worked this out.

I quite like galahs. I do know that I'll never own one or even pat one because they are practically untameable but there's something a little gladdening about that. A wild bird which is free to do what it pleases and takes no orders from anyone is more regal, more grandiose and more majestic than the qualities which we foolishly try to impose on it. Perhaps galahs think that we're the fools and in some weird galah language they have the expression "flaming humans"; or at least I like to think they would.

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