Some years ago now, a kākā kura (red-morph kākā) turned up at Zealandia. What was curious is that she had hatched at Zealandia, was banded, and was originally a normal-coloured kākā (find out more about the kākā kura in this earlier story...). To date, she's been the only kākā kura seen in the Zealandia population.
That is until a month ago, when the kākā kura's mum, Pinky-B, showed up with a pink head! She was obviously going through a moult and when I saw her again about a month later she was even pinker with perhaps some orange/burgundy tones in her brown feathers. Now I've known Pinky-B since 2008 when I first started nestbox monitoring, and she's always been a normal-looking kākā with a grey head, yellow-orange cheeks, grey-brown top feathers, and reddish underfluffies. Why now, after all these years, would she start turning pink?
I know I have a lot of vet, ornithologist, and bird researcher readers, so I'd love to know your thoughts as to why she'd be experiencing a colour change! My (possibly incorrect) understanding was that a colour morph was a genetic variation so we'd expect a morph to be that colour throughout its life span. Is there perhaps an epigenetic influence in the environment that's switching these genes on? Or is it perhaps a metabolic issue?
By way of comparison, here's a couple of photos showing the earlier kākā kura (daughter of Pinky-B), who was far more orangy-pink all over, and a normal-coloured kākā (other than the gold tummy feathers).
It's tax time - my favourite time of year! Really? Seriously? It's true... it's when I tally up the donations to conservation through art sales from the previous year. Today I donated over $3300 for the birds, on your behalf. We made donations to Zealandia, Forest & Bird, Hihi Recovery, Capital Kiwi, and World Parrot Trust. And it was only possible thanks to your support - everything from liking and commenting on posts on social media, visiting exhibitions, sharing emails with friends, to buying art all makes a difference in getting the word out and supporting the birds.
So which bird raised the most funds? For the third year in a row, the tūī of course. Four of the top five pieces in 2020/2021 featured NZ's favourite bird...
1. His Resplendence (tūī) - supporting Forest & Bird. "Mr Popular" ran away with it, nearly doubling the amount raised by the second bird on the list. Limited-edition prints are now completely sold out everywhere,
2. A New View (tūī) - supporting Zealandia. This funny tūī has brought joy to so many people! I now only have large limited-edition prints left. Again, I'll continue to release TinyArt pieces. Meanwhile, I'm on the search for more funny tūī, but they are usually so regal and stylish and don't let their comical side show so often.
3. The Scenic Route (kākā) - an open edition print so these funny characters will always be available and helping support Zealandia.
4. Portrait of a Tūī - supporting Zealandia. Last year's top bird, but he's now nearly sold out so has fallen down the ranks. I have just one large print left, but there is a handful of other sizes still available in galleries.
5. Forever Calling Me (tūī) - supporting Forest & Bird. A new kid on the block, the release of this tūī artwork suffered due to Covid-related exhibition cancellations, so he's never really seen the light of day. Despite these setbacks, medium and large prints have been really popular in the galleries, giving this tūī with his gorgeous iridescent wings the number 5 position.
Hoo do you think will be the top bird next year? An early peek at the figures so far reveals there might be a surprise upset... and there was a hint in the previous sentence 🤔
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Art of Birding Blog by Judi Lapsley Miller
Fine art inspired by the stories of birds and the natural world. Starting with photographs, I let my imagination take me on flights of fancy. What is real and what is imagined is blurred. What is physical and what is virtual is disrupted. Bursting with colour and life.
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