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).
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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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