Aussies baffled after 'bin chickens' mysteriously turn pink

What's turned these birds' feathers pink?

The Queensland government is investigating after a Townsville resident snapped a picture of two iconic Aussie birds with a striking change to their usual white feathers.

In the image, the traditionally white ibis’ — colloquially known as bin chickens for their penchant for going through trash — are a bright pink colour. “Deeragun is known for a lot of things,” the woman who took the photo wrote on Facebook on Sunday. “But currently, it is home to the very rare pink Ibis!” She then went on to add that “no Photoshop has been used here”.

A second shot of one of the birds on Joanne Street in the Townsville suburb reveals a body of pink water, and a third picture reveals a patch of pink grass.

“On a more serious note, it does seem like something has been tipped into the nearby easement, or it has run from a patch of pink grass nearby,” the woman suggested. “In any case, I am worried it could be toxic to our local wildlife.”

The two pink ibis photographed in Townsville.
The two ibis in Townsville appeared to be a very bright shade of pink. Source: Facebook

Residents brand pink ibis ‘bin flamingos’

It turns out the woman wasn’t the only one to spot the pink ibis’ in Townsville. “Saw some pink ones on Veales Road yesterday!” another Facebook user wrote. “I saw them yesterday too,” someone else commented.

While others took a guess at what could have caused the birds to change colour. “[It] looks like the kind of dye you would use as a marker for spraying herbicides,” one person said.

A pink ibis is seen near a pink body of water in Townsville. Source: Facebook
The woman also photographed a pink body of water, but the Department of Environment and Science confirmed it hadn't received reports of a pollution event. Source: Facebook

Investigation launched by Townville Council

Speaking to Yahoo News Australia, Townsville City Council believes the incident was the result of some faulty rainwater tanks at St Anthony's Catholic College, after the school pumped pink colouring into its tank supply to identify the source of a leak.

“The birds have temporarily turned pink after frolicking in coloured water that was emptied out of a rain tank on the school grounds,” a spokesperson said. “A hydrovac truck is scheduled to remove water from the area on Tuesday.” A representative from the College declined to comment on the situation.

While the Queensland Department of Environment and Science said it had received no reports about a pollution event in Townsville that may be responsible for this matter. "The department is going to follow up to see what, if any, action needs to be taken," a spokesperson told Yahoo News Australia.

A pink patch of grass seen in Townsville. Source: Facebook
A pink patch of grass could also be seen, which some suggested could be the result of a local dye running. Source: Facebook

In July, a Sydney childcare centre revealed that it was struggling with an ibis infestation that posed a threat to the children’s health and safety because of the droppings.

Ibis birds are native to Australia and therefore protected under National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974. This means the bird can not be removed from the area, or its habitat destroyed, according to the Sutherland Shire Council.

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