Concern over blue cockatoos spotted by locals: 'Sad to see'

Residents of a NSW town are concerned about a cockatoo sighted in the area which appears to have had its white feathers dyed blue.

The unusual sight was captured by a Mittagong local and shared on social media where dozens expressed outrage over the seemingly deliberate act.

"Sad to see this cockatoo with blue dye," the poster wrote alongside photos of the native bird.

While its face and upper body remains untouched, the bird's wings, back and tail are an unnatural shade of blue causing many to speculate how this came to be.

Blue cockatoo Mittagong NSW
The cockatoo was spotted in Mittagong with its feathers dyed blue: Source: Facebook

Speculation over coloured cockatoos

Many concluded it was an intentional human act deeming it impossible for it to be a naturally-occurring transition in the bird's life cycle.

"People are so cruel, I have no words that can explain anyone that does this," one said.

"Humans are putrid," said another.

"Absolutely against dying any animal. What’s the point," a third wrote. "Seriously love your animal just the way they are."

But some disagreed with one saying "I highly doubt it's someone doing it intentionally."

"Even for an experienced bird handler it would be hard to catch a cockatoo, let alone try to paint/dye it without it taking your finger off," they added.

Blue cockatoo Mittagong, NSW
People were concerned after seeing the blue on the cockatoo with fears it's harmful to them. Source: Facebook

Some suggested coloured feathers are a standard practice sometimes used by wildlife and bird rescuers to help ID cockatoos.

"I'd say it's been sprayed for Id, other birds won't worry, but if it's been in wildlife care for an extensive time, it's a gentle way of ID,"one said.

"Possibly dye from where herbicide has been applied, might have gone in to eat something and it happened to be in an area that has been sprayed already," another said.

Dye potentially toxic to birds

A WIRES spokesperson told Yahoo News Australia that while they have had reports of sulphur-crested cockatoos that seem to have had their feathers dyed in other parts of the state, this particular bird as not been reported.

Because of this, they can not determine exactly what the blue dye is — or if it's toxic — but it appears to be man-made and likely harmful.

group of coloured cockatoos on grass
A group of coloured cockatoos appeared in Appin NSW last year. Source: WIRES

"I would hazard a guess it’s probably the result of human intervention possibly meant as a prank of some kind but without being able to determine the source we can’t confirm," a spokesperson said.

"As birds preen their feathers to clean themselves, there is always a risk they could ingest whatever this dye is and suffer the effects of poisoning.

"The colour coverage in the photos provided doesn't look as if it might be the result of something the bird may have eaten either."

Judging by the photos, it looks like "somebody's sprayed them", they said, but the reason why is unknown.

"If someone's doing it as a joke we advise them not to, it's not a very kind thing to do to the animals."

In 2021, a flock of cockatoos were captured outside a home in Appin NSW. The entire flock appeared to have coloured feathers — a mix of pink, blue and green — and although it was reported to WIRES, it still remains a mystery.

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