Gertie Galah adopts us
Strange things happen in the bird world from time to time.
Stranger things sometimes happen in my world from time to time too.
I was sitting on the back veranda reading the morning paper. I was suddenly aware of movement near my feet. I wild Galah casually walked past me, across the grass and went straight for the swamp… er… swimming pool. It leaned over looking for a drink, but the water level is just a little too low.
She continued walking around the pool to the steps. She took quite and interest in the little ramp we installed a few weeks ago to allow some Pacific Black Ducklings to get out of the water before they drowned. (Yes – baby ducklings can drown due to hypothermia and having feathers that cannot repel water. They develop water resistance after a few weeks.) Said Galah, having tested out the ramp, walks down to the water’s edge for a good drink and then back to the bricks again. She then proceeded to walk out through a gap in the fence and off through the mallee scrub at the back of our house. As she left I noticed that one wing was drooping and obviously damaged.
This morning Gertie was back – but this time she was floundering in the water. Several other Galahs had gathered on the pool edge to encourage her. She was quite soggy and I rescued her just in time. I wrapped her in a towel, put her in a cardboard box in the sun and hoped she would dry out. Within the hour she shrugged off the towel, climbed out of the box, preened her feathers and walked off towards the scrub again. This time the wing seemed to droop even more.
At lunch time she was back, sitting on the water’s edge. I managed to approach close enough to throw the towel over her and catch her, making sure her sharp beak and claws were kept away from my tender fingers. Despite her loud, squawking protestations I managed to release her in an old aviary to keep her out of harm’s way. We have stray cats and foxes in the vicinity; it’s not safe out there for a wounded Galah who can’t fly more than about a metre.
By this evening she had found the food I’ve put there for her and I hope she’ll also find the water. Even though wounded she was able to climb up the netting and find a perch.
How did she become wounded? I suspect she’s been hit by a passing vehicle. The death rate of Galahs from road kill is incredibly high. In another part of town today I saw four dead Galahs in a 50 metre stretch of road. Other possibilities include a fox, dog or cat attack while feeding on the ground, flying into a power line or even a bullet wound.
The photo above is of a free bird, not Gertie. I hope she quickly recovers so we can release her again.
Update: Gertie obviously felt better after a few days. She managed to escape from my old aviary and we haven’t seen her since.
This post was updated July 2015