By LLOYD MARSHALL
HYBRID parrots are nothing new, with various matings occurring over the years, some deliberate, some accidental.
I’ve seen crimson-wings crossed with king parrots, galahs crossed with Major Mitchell’s cockatoos, Majors crossed with sulphur-crests, galahs with sulphur crests and corellas mated with all of the abovenamed cockatoos.
Some breeders in America have crossed various macaw species, where the most popular is blue and gold mated to scarlet, with the resultant youngsters called catalina macaws.
But the latest hybrid that I’ve come across is really incredible, with the environment and the circumstances under which it was bred truly amazing.
Nikki, who lives in New South Wales, has bred a galah-cockatiel cross, which as far as I can ascertain is a world first.
She had a 12-year-old male galah in an aviary with five female cockatiels and six male cockatiels.
Three pairs of cockatiels were breeding happily and Nikki got the shock of her life when she walked past the cage one day and saw a decidedly different-looking bird sitting on a perch.
“It was a young bird and obviously a cross between the galah and a light yellow coloured six-year-old cockatiel, with the parent birds definitely bonded and together all the time,” she said.
“The young bird is around 25 per cent larger than a cockatiel, with a galah’s body shape that’s grey all over.
“He has an orange galah-style crest, dusty orange chest, deep orange cheek patches, with wings more like a cockatiel in colour but the shape of a galah’s wings.”
Joseph Forshaw, the world renowned parrot expert and author of the classic Australian Parrots book, said he had never heard of a galah crossing with a cockatiel anywhere in the world.
“I have never heard of a cockatiel crossing with anything, although I have heard of people trying to cross them with other parrots,” Mr Forshaw said.
He said recent DNA tests had indicated that cockatiels are related to Australia’s black cockatoos.
“I guess the fact that the cockatiel has bred with a member of the cockatoo family proves conclusively that it is a part of that family,” he said.
Avian vet Tim Oldfield was sceptical when told of the mutation, but changed his tune when shown the photo.
“I have to admit it looks exactly like a cockatiel galah cross, quite amazing,” he said.
The woman who bred the bird took it inside to hand-feed it, intending to make it a pet.
“He’s very quiet and friendly and I’ve been offered $15,000 for him, but people have told me he’s worth a lot more because he’s the only one in the world,” she said.
The parent birds, which were in a half-enclosed aviary 2.5m x 1.5m x 1.8m high, were fed parrot mix and could also get into vegetable scraps and guinea pig food mixture that was intended for a few guinea pigs that live on the floor of the aviary.
Nikki described the four 400mm long nest logs in the aviary as “cockatiel size”, with one placed upright on the floor in each corner of the aviary, with the tops of the logs completely exposed.
“Three of the logs were used by the cockatiels and the other box was used by the parents of the hybrid baby,” she said.
“It would have been a tight fit for the galah to get into the log.”
Nikki said she would consider selling the three birds and anyone interested in making an offer could contact her on 02 6839 2479 or firstname.lastname@example.org