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Aussies baffled as cockatoo mysteriously turns pink

WIRES have received several reports of pink birds in recent months.

Aussies were baffled by the sight of a pink cockatoo spotted in a backyard in Sydney's north over the weekend — wondering what on earth could have caused its change in colour.

The native bird flew into the backyard of a Killarney Heights family home and Austen Armstrong, 22, was quick to grab his camera.

"It landed on my chicken coop and I was just sitting outside," he told Yahoo News Australia. "I was pretty surprised at the time because it's a sulphur-crested cockatoo and they aren't pink."

Pink cockatoo can be seen resting on a bin, showing its side profile (left) and looking straight on at the camera (right).
The pink cockatoo was spotted in a backyard in Sydney's north on Saturday. Source:

The native bird — usually easily recognised by their white feathers and yellow head crest — appears pink at its head, chest and wings.

Aussies guess what could have caused the colour change

Aussies flocked to the impressive pictures online and debated what could have possibly caused the change in colour.

"Our local council recently had a water leak so put an environmentally friendly dye in the water to find the leak, and we had a lot of coloured birds getting about," one wrote, while another joked someone didn't properly seperate their "whites from their colours" on laundry day.

WIRES confirm increase in pink bird sightings

The wildlife rescue organisation confirmed to Yahoo News there has been a number of pink bird sightings— as well as blue — in recent months, however, it is unknown what is causing it.

"WIRES has had reports previously of sulphur-crested cockatoos that seem to have had their feathers dyed in Wingecarribee and Eastern Suburbs and Appin NSW," a WIRES spokesperson said. "As we are not able to contain the affected birds nor have any come into care, the substance on the feathers has not been analysed to determine what it is - or if it is toxic. It remains a mystery."

Without a necropsy (an animal autopsy) it is difficult to determine what the bird is being exposed to or why it's feathers have changed colour, however there are several theories. Some believe the birds could have been exposed to dyes in the food fed to them or in local waterways, or dust in surrounding areas have been thrown over the bird, yet none can be proven.

"WIRES strongly advise against feeding any native birds as it can upset their diet and their health," the spokesperson said.

Birds turn pink in Queensland

The recent cockatoo sighting comes after a flock of pink ibis birds were spotted in Townsville, Queensland last month which was the result of faulty rainwater tanks.

“The birds have temporarily turned pink after frolicking in coloured water that was emptied out of a rain tank on the school grounds,” a Townsville City Council spokesperson told Yahoo News previously.

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