Sulphur-crested Cockatoos Colouration

To: Jack Shapiro <>
Subject: Sulphur-crested Cockatoos Colouration
Date: Mon, 27 Oct 2003 18:04:05 +1100

Hi All,

Here's a list of replies i got to my initial posting...i'm still unconvinced about this colouration:

Sender                                     Sighting Location                                          Suggested Cause

Peter Fuller(myself)                           Fyansford, Geelong, VIC                                               Wanted to stand out in a crowd
Jill Dark                                                 Cairns/Atherton Tablelands,QLD                               Feeding on Red Soil
Philip Veerman                                   No sighting                                                                         Wood pulp from nest excavating ( educated guess)
John Reidy                                           Leeton, NSW                                                                    Bathing in puddle of very muddy red water (visibly muddy)
Duncan Fraser                                    Gippsland, VIC                                                                 ??????????????????                                        
Annabel Ashworth/Hoskins            Tamworth, NSW                                                               Molasses from farmers feed supplement blocks turning feathers pink.
Alan Gillanders                          Atherton Tablelands, QLD                                Staining from red, tropical soils.
Jack Shapiro                              Mosman, NSW

Heres some images of the bird i saw down at Fyansford:

Please let me know if you have troubles accessing this link.




On Thursday  ( 23/10/03) while walking at Balmoral Beach (Mosman, NSW), I observed a group of 4 Sulphur-crested Cockatoos feeding on grass roots on the lawn.  One of them was had a light brown colouration to most of it feathers except the head.  In bright sunlight it looked brown, but perhaps under lesser bright conditions it may be viewed as "pinkish".  The bird itself looked exactly like the other cockatoos in its features, not like a hybrid.  I have seen hybrid of Sulphur-crested Cockatoos and Galahs, and this was not one of them. The bird didn¹t look dirty, but at the interface between the coloured and white regions of the plumage , the colouration didn¹t look natural.  This may well be an example of what Peter Fuller suggested a phenomenon related to nesting.  

Recently there has been correspondence on this type of observation in birding Aus, with Peter Fuller initiating the subject (Peter Fuller ; [BIRDING-AUS] Sulphur-crested Cockatoos colouration- 27, 28,29 August 2003).

What is curious is that such colouration has only been reported this year, and on other  different individuals of this species, at very diverse locations.  Could the dry weather this year be responsible in so indirect way ?

Jack Shapiro

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