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Galahs - the clowns of the orchard

Galahs also share our farm. Galahs are noisy and gregarious birds that congregate in large groups and live in various trees around our farm. These ones are just outside our house yard, and this photo shows them enjoying a rainstorm in late April. Galahs hang upside down to seemingly catch as much water on their underwings as possible when rain falls during warm weather. They are extremely entertaining to watch.

Galahs can be destructive and have been known to chew the tops of our apple trees on occasions. However, they are generally a loved part of the natural world on our farm.

Other birds which are destructive to the orchard are the crows (or ravens as our black birds should rightly be called). They are particularly fond of apples and can be seen during the irrigation season collecting crickets and other insects from paddocks around us, and then seemingly heading to the orchard for their dessert. We use a number of tactics to deter them including the use of gas scare guns.

Some years ago we had breeding magpies which were completely black. We initially thought they might be a cross between a crow and magpie, but analysis of a dead one showed it was a differently pigmented magpie. They were here for about 10 years and then disappeared, although we do occasionally see some on one of our neighbour’s properties. Most people don’t notice they aren’t a crow, but the magpie characteristics are obvious when you are looking for them.

Australian Ravens are black with white eyes in adults. The feathers on the throat (hackles) are longer than in other species, and a bird tends to extend these when calling, while holding its head and body in a horizontal position. Australian Ravens are usually seen in pairs. Another aid to identification of this species is the absence of wing-flicking while calling. Young birds resemble the adults, but have dark eyes, shorter throat hackles and often the presence of a pink, fleshy gape. This species is sometimes called a crow.

Similar species:

There are six members of the family Corvidae found in Australia: five native breeding species and one infrequent self-introduction. Three are called crows and three ravens, although there is really little difference. Most Australian species are similar in size and colouration, and can be difficult to tell apart. In some cases, identification is aided by the separate ranges of different species, but differences in plumage, habits and calls offer good clues for distinguishing them. The bases of the feathers of the crows are white, while those of the ravens are grey, although this is only useful if birds are held in the hand or if discarded feathers are found.

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