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Who’s a pretty boy then?

April 26, 2019

The hottest animal in the district at the moment is a pink and white Sulphur-crested Cockatoo (Cacatua galerita) recently seen mingling with a flock of plain white ones. Many have been trying to photograph it. Darren from Yea has the best shot to date (see left). There has been a lot of conjecture about what the bird actually is. Geoff from the Murrindindi Birdwatchers has offered a number of possible explanations.

Many species of birds are known to have genetic mutations which affect their colour. A bird with excess white in the normal colouring, as per the Magpie reported in 2016, is known as leucistic, from the Greek word leukos meaning white. Similarly melanistic (from the Greek melanos meaning black) mutations produce an excess of black colouration and xanthism (from the Greek xanthos meaning yellow) is a condition of excess yellow. But Pink???

Alternatively the bird could be a hybrid, maybe between a Sulphur-crested Cockatoo and a Galah (maybe a Glockatoo!)

This photo was posted to the Facebook group ‘Australian Bird Identification’ to see if anyone had any alternative ideas. The overwhelming opinion from members there was that the pictured individual has been stained by a marker dye used in aerial spraying. Dyes are mixed with liquids for aerial spraying so that the pilot can see which areas have been covered. Similarly the CFA use a dye mixed in with aerially delivered fire retardant for the same reason – not the most romantic of explanations to explain such a colourful character.

Irrespective of the reason there is no doubt that it is the ‘prettiest boy’ in the bunch.

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