Pink sulphur-crested cockatoo baffles and delights Belconnen locals

Damien Larkins 8 November 2021 74
A pink sulphur crested cockatoo

The pink sulphur-crested cockatoo has been seen around west Belconnen. Photo: Tiffany King.

A brightly coloured pink sulphur-crested cockatoo seen in Canberra’s north has left locals scratching their heads.

The ordinarily white bird has been seen across suburban Hawker and near reserves along William Hovell Drive.

Locals have speculated why it’s pink: dye, dust, interspecies breeding, fire retardant spray, bacteria or even the blood of its fallen enemies.

Canberra naturalist Ian Fraser said it’s new to him.

“My eyes opened. It’s not something I’ve seen before. I don’t believe it’s a natural phenomenon,” he said.

Pink cockatoo caught on camera in Canberra backyard

Ever seen a pink sulphur crested cockatoo? ?This bright bird was caught on camera by local Tiffany King in her Hawker backyard.Have you seen it anywhere else in Canberra?And what do you think caused it??? Tiffany King

Posted by The Canberra Page on Thursday, November 4, 2021

Mr Fraser’s not sure what’s caused it but doesn’t believe it’s a mutation.

“Birds don’t easily produce red or pink dyes. They need to ingest a relevant food source which contains beta carotene and then synthesise it,” he said.

“That’s a very complicated biochemical process and energetically expensive.”

Instead, he believes it’s somehow come into contact with a chemical that has turned it pink.

“Whether it’s an escaped captive bird, whose owner for some strange reason saw fit to spray it pink, or whether it’s somehow come into contact with a pink chemical in the wild, we can’t say.”


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However, he doesn’t think it was an accident.

“I feel this is something that somebody has done intentionally to the bird, but only by the elimination of other options, not because I think that’s particularly likely either.”

While it’s not known how the cockatoo became pink, it seems to be in good health.

Mr Fraser says there’s no reason to worry, and it will be back to normal after breeding season in autumn.

“It seems to be managing perfectly well,” he said.

“If I’m right and it’s a dye, when it moults, as all birds do annually … it will moult those pink feathers and retain white ones.”


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If that isn’t the case, he says he will be very surprised.

“If it moults pink feathers and grows entirely new pink feathers, then I’m entirely wrong,” he adds with a laugh.

If you see the pink cockatoo or any other strange things around your neighbourhood, send us an email.


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74 Responses to Pink sulphur-crested cockatoo baffles and delights Belconnen locals
Richard Vickers Richard Vickers 5:12 pm 15 Nov 21

Just seen the pink cockatoo sitting on the wires near Murranji Street. Amazing colour! :-)

Judith Hall Judith Hall 5:42 pm 12 Nov 21

I have seen them a orange colour after rolling in dirt after the rain. Maybe rolled in some pink gravel. Who knows.

Shakira Pretty Shakira Pretty 2:20 pm 11 Nov 21

Lauren Allen keep your eyes peeled for this awesome cocky!

Ian Connell Ian Connell 2:07 pm 11 Nov 21

My dad's cousin had a cockatoo which she dyed pink. The bird would travel everywhere with her, sitting on the back of the passenger seat. It travelled between Adelaide and Sydney.

Zita Wilson Zita Wilson 8:28 pm 10 Nov 21

He's a Galah? Lol.

Megan Kalsbeek Megan Kalsbeek 7:15 pm 10 Nov 21

Jessica Clarke I think this is what we saw!

    Jessica Clarke Jessica Clarke 11:13 pm 10 Nov 21

    Megan Kalsbeek I don't remember this!

    Megan Kalsbeek Megan Kalsbeek 7:55 pm 12 Nov 21

    Jessica Clarke what! We were standing... oh wait... maybe that was Katie Clarke 😅😅😅😅😅

    Katie Clarke Katie Clarke 8:31 am 13 Nov 21

    Megan Kalsbeek it was definitely me.. 😑

    Katie Clarke Katie Clarke 8:33 am 13 Nov 21

    And this is what we saw. It's a white cockatoo called a Corella.

    Megan Kalsbeek Megan Kalsbeek 9:53 am 13 Nov 21

    Jessica Clarke sooo.... I recalled neither the person nor the bird correctly... my bad 😅😅😅

    Megan Kalsbeek Megan Kalsbeek 9:53 am 13 Nov 21

    Katie Clarke I'm sure the bird we saw was pink 🤔

    Mickey Christensen Mickey Christensen 2:33 pm 13 Nov 21

    Jessica Clarke if it was in Canberra, most likely that it was a Short-billed Corella. They are very common and look roughly the size of a galah. But if it was definitely pink, there is a pink cockatoo in Canberra, I have seen it before. There's many theories on it including that it could have been dyed by something, or, less likely, it's a pigment mutation. Most common opionion is that it's not a natural phenomenon though.

Sandii Hardii Sandii Hardii 9:57 am 10 Nov 21

It needs a bath 🤣

Amy-Louise Mann Amy-Louise Mann 5:15 am 10 Nov 21

Stella Cross Madison Mann spotted in hawker 😮

Nigel Fullerton Nigel Fullerton 8:34 pm 09 Nov 21

I wouldn't be surprised if this is discolouration from fire retardant dropped by fire fighting aircraft during the bushfires.

David Campbell David Campbell 8:24 pm 09 Nov 21

It is due to crossing with galahs

Elizabeth Parkin Elizabeth Parkin 8:16 pm 09 Nov 21

Steph Parkin yet not at our house 😩

Natalie O'Connell Natalie O'Connell 6:37 pm 09 Nov 21

Jake Shaw omg now this is a bird I would like!!

Chris Maclure Chris Maclure 6:11 pm 09 Nov 21

Li Ann check this out!

Jess Griffiths Jess Griffiths 4:55 pm 09 Nov 21

Leisa Matvieieva the bird is going viral 😂😂

    Leisa Matvieieva Leisa Matvieieva 8:58 pm 09 Nov 21

    Jess Griffiths you made him famous 🤣🤣🤣

Bowie James Bowie James 3:40 pm 09 Nov 21

John Robert Lombard Haha yes, once.

Tiah Penny Tiah Penny 3:13 pm 09 Nov 21

Caleb BishopZoe Behrendt I saw this guy this morning on my run!!

Lee-Anne Gwynne Lee-Anne Gwynne 2:58 pm 09 Nov 21

I've seen salmon cockatoos in the burbs of Hong Kong. So strange!

Lorraine Weinman Lorraine Weinman 2:39 pm 09 Nov 21

We must look out for this Jack Lloyd

Jayden Caldarella Jayden Caldarella 1:27 pm 09 Nov 21

Tessa i love him

Ravinder Singh Ravinder Singh 12:56 pm 09 Nov 21

Beautiful

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