Friday, February 15, 2013

Creature Feature: Major Mitchell's Cockatoo.

Who wants something more friendly than an entry on eating hearts? You know you do. Something bright and colorful makes winter nice. So, here is a healthy dose of pink:

From Wikipedia.

 Rounding off Valentine's Day is the peachy-pink Major Mitchell's Cockatoo (Lophochroa leadbeateri). It is also called the Leadbeater's Cockatoo, or, simply, "pink cockatoo." It is native to central and western Australia, which is a semi-arid climate.

The above picture has not been altered: Mitchell's cockatoos are really pink, red, white, and yellow. They stand out.  Pink cockatoos are widely considered the most beautiful of all cockatoo species, even by the guy who named them. Sir Major Thomas Mitchell - as in, the guy the bird was named after -  said that, "Few birds more enliven the monotonous hues of the Australian forest than this beautiful species whose pink-coloured wings and flowing crest might have embellished the air of a more voluptuous region". There's no region I can think of where a bright pink parrot wouldn't stand out.

Strangely, these giant pink birds are probably among the most primitive of all cockatoos. It shares a yodeling cry with the corella parrot, which is definitely not a cockatoo. The rounded wing shape is more or less unique to cockatoos, but this bird has the pink plumage and pale bill of other Australian parrots. It's a sort of transition cockatoo.

Anyone who has ever owned a non-Petco parrot will tell you that parrots can be very long-lived. One such parrot happens to be a Mitchell's Cockatoo named Cookie, who is now 79 years old. He is the only surviving member of the zoo's original set of animals from 1934. Unfortunately, Cookie has officially been taken off-display as of June 2012; it's a shame that I couldn't snap a good photo of him for this blog. If there was ever a candidate for a real phoenix, this parrot might be a good base.

No, these beautiful parrots do not make good pets. Parrots - big parrots, not cute little parakeets - are horribly high-maintenance birds, requiring tons of socialization and cleaning. Cockatoos are considered particularly poor pets. Major Mitchell's is not exception, but if you must get one, get a female. Make sure the bird was captive-bred; although not threatened, these birds are on the decline due to habitat fragmentation. Keep the pink cockatoos alive, mate!

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