Celebirdy of the Month
Mayor of the Avenue
Avenue Spotlight Award
- Real Name
It is with great pleasure that I announce the
Celebirdy for the month of February 2019,
1. What is your bird's name, species, age and sex?
Rhubarb is a five-year-old captive bred Rose-breasted cockatoo (RB2). In Australia, native RB2s are known as Galahs from the aboriginal word "Gilaa" which means something along the lines of "Reckless fool." In science RB2s are known as genus name Eolophus (possibly latinized version of the name "Aeolus" the Greek god of wind and storms) and species name rosicapilla (rosy-pink hair) or Cacatua rosicapella. She is most likely from the Western subspecies. Check out the link at the end for more info on subspecies names. I am certain that she knows she is a Pink-haired Storm Goddess Cockatoo. When she gets worked up we refer to her by her true name: Wings of fury, beak of terror.
2. How did you acquire your bird?
She was a wedding present from one of my family members. I grew up with birds for most of my life, but Husband had no pets at all before we got married. We picked her out together a month before we tied the knot. Of all the Galahs we saw that day, she was the least panicked by the bright shirt that almost-Husband was wearing. She came home with us after our honeymoon.
3. Does your bird do any special tricks?
She waves and gives high-fives with her foot; does a "thinker pose" with her foot on her chin when she wants something; knows that "attach" means to grab with her beak to whatever support is in front of her and "quiet" means to lower her volume (though she seems to treat "quiet" as more of a suggestion that can be disregarded at will). Once upon a time she knew what "put in hand" and "put in bowl" meant getting a treat if she dropped a toy she was holding in the correct place. We haven't practiced for awhile so I'm not sure if she would give up toys to a bowl or hand anymore. She also comes when called, if she feels like it. Turns out she feels like scritches and/or nuts all the time, and she's pretty good at flying, so she comes about 9 out of 10 times she's called.
4. What are some of your bird's favorite foods?
Carbs, carbs and more carbs! She loves pasta, rice, oatmeal and popcorn (all without salt, though a touch of olive oil or coconut oil makes for an extra-tasty treat). I try to limit empty calories, but she only seems to eat leafy greens when I'm eating them right in front of her. Galah see, Galah do! Although she'll drop a leaf as soon as I stop looking at her. Maybe Human see, Galah do! would be more accurate. She's also big into fruit. Berries, apples and papaya are all favorite. And raw nuts as long as they aren't walnuts or cashews. She can crack an almond shell in seconds, despite her relatively small beak. Chews right through the shell on the pointy end. Pecans and pistachios are also favorite.
5. What is the funniest thing your bird has done?
She conned Husband! He was eating macaroni with marinara and teasing her a bit, with his plate held just out of her reach. He'd lower the plate while he ate, and if she got closer, lift it just enough that she couldn't reach the pasta. Tiptoed and long-necked, she could only just beak the rim of the plate. I told him not to tease, but he couldn't help himself. This went on for a minute or so before Rhubarb suddenly whipped her head around toward the front door and screeched, crest up and wings out. We humans both looked up to see what startled her. I heard the flap and looked back just in time to see her scoring a noodle from his plate. The rim had dipped a little when he looked up and with a flap she closed the distance. By the time we could react she was already well into the waddle-run getaway with her prize. We both laughed at her cleverness and that was the last time he teased her with his own food. (She loves him and can clearly outsmart him, so I let them have their fun.)
6. How has your bird enriched your life?
I'm a full time student in Medical School. Studying takes up a huge chunk of my time every day. It's really nice to have some life in the room when I'm on the computer and in the books for hours at a time. She's pretty good about staying in her tree gym, and every hour or so I can put up an arm and say "Come, Fly!" and she'll join me for a quick scritch session. It helps bring down the stress level and keep me focused.
7. What would you tell people who are considering this species?
Enrich, enrich, enrich their little lives. She's not as thoughtful or mechanical as some birds, but she is extremely impulsive and energetic. She needs lots of things to chew and preen. I have a couple of preening toys that she loves to cuddle, and we still have problems with barbering. Especially when the routine changes and she has to spend more time in her cage. Be prepared to laugh if you have a Galah. And be prepared for a willful, loving, opinionated bundle of PERSONALITY. Above all, be consistent. Set rules early and enforce them regularly. Rhubarb knows where she may and may not land in the house and apart from a panic-flight triggered by a bee or horrible fly, she's good at sticking to her own landing zones. She eventually figured out that no matter how cute she acted, we weren't going to let her sit on the curtain rods or get into the bookcase. And we might even put the dreaded flyswatter in that most preferred place if she kept going back. Nothing like flyswatter deterrent. It's the only thing worse than actual flies.
8. What is the activity and noise level of your bird?
She tends toward being a perch potato, so I have her food and water far apart in her cage. She has to climb around quite a bit to access all of her favorite things. She doesn't get carried anywhere. She has to fly. Having her flighted has made her much calmer overall. She flies to her day cage in the morning. Back and forth between the day cage and tree gym when I'm studying. And to bed from her day cage at night. Perhaps because of how we trained her (flying back and forth between me and Husband), she's more comfortable launching from a hand than a solid object, but if she really wants to go she is quick to take off from wherever she is perched. The only times she really makes noise are in the morning, when I get a SQWEEEEEE-WEEEEEEEEEE-EEEEEE confirmation that she landed safely on her day cage (out of my sight from the bedroom) and again when we come home after being out for awhile. She hears the garage door and by the time we get out of the car, we can hear her chirping a greeting. Interestingly, her morning sounds tend to match the volume with which I greet her. If I'm silent, she may land and just run around impatiently while she waits for breakfast. If I say "Good morning!" as I uncover the cage, she's more likely to be vocal when she lands down the hall and around the corner.
9. What are some of your bird's quirks?
She's terrified of buzzing insects. And the one time I left the sliding glass door open just after we installed a humming bird feeder on the patio, you'd think she was getting murdered by salted ice picks. That huge buzzer was clearly the end of all things, and she was gonna let me know that death was upon us. Took a long time to calm her down. I chose not to remove the feeder though, and within a day or so, she got used to the outside birds flying within a few feet of the back door.
A kind of bad quirk is that she's a barberer. She chews the pink ends off the feathers over her crop, leaving a white crescent of down. Last month during her annual checkup, the vet said her feathers were amazingly thick and that I shouldn't worry too much about a little seasonal barbering. She mostly does it in the fall, possibly due to the change in weather, daylight hours, or my schedule. We haven't figured it out, but regular baths seem to help. After bathtime she doesn't like being toweled though, unlike Lemoncello. He's happiest as a little burrito bird. They have a sibling relationship, more in the line of restrained tolerance rather than pair bonding.
10. If your bird talks, what is the most surprising word or sentence it has said?
She can talk, but she won't around other people. The other night she surprised me by saying "Scritches" when I put her to bed. Really it was more of a "Shh-*-sh" where the * was a beak grit for the tch sound. It melted me on the spot. Especially because as I've gotten better at reading her body language and the tone of her chirps, she talks less and less in human words. There is no need since she can communicate well enough in her own language and she clearly understands my tone and a handful of words I use to communicate with her.
11. What is your bird’s favorite treat?
Nuts. Scritches. Hanging out with her humans. In that order and without exception.
How the Australian galah got its name in a muddle