UPDATE: Since this story was published, Wild Bird Fund shared that Flamingo had died most likely as a result of inhaling toxins. RIP Flamingo.
A domestic king pigeon was recently discovered by a bird rescue group after it had been deliberately dyed pink and released into the wild. Flamingo, as the unlucky pigeon has been named, has it doubly rough. As a domestic bird, it’s not prepared for the realities of life in the wild, making it vulnerable to starvation and predation, and as a pink pigeon he’s going to have a rough time until a fresh set of feathers come in.
Fortunately, Flamingo was found by the Wild Bird Fund who have taken the peculiarly colored bird under their wing. They believe Flamingo was deliberately turned pink with hair dye, and while it’s not exactly certain what the intended purpose was, some have suggested the dreaded gender reveal party trend may have been to blame.
We say dreaded because such parties have seen people detonate gravel pits and explosives with fatal consequences, with one being significant enough to cause an earthquake. Others have caused entire wildfires, so it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that Flamingo’s makeover was a victim of the same theme.
Whatever the cause, Flamingo hasn’t been thriving since being completely submerged in dye, say Wild Bird Fund.
“After giving him time to stabilize, our team tried several methods to remove the dye, which we believe is hair dye, with limited success,” they wrote in an update on Facebook. “One problem is that the dye has a very strong odor, and we're concerned for the bird's respiratory health. Birds are highly sensitive to certain fumes, and this pigeon is essentially living inside a cloud.”
One of their key concerns is whether Flamingo has ingested any of the toxic dye during preening as he’s currently weak and not eating well. They’re continuing to monitor and treat him, all the while trying not to stress out an already exhausted animal.
However, a primary concern is purchasing domestic birds and releasing them into the wild. Domestic birds have no survival instincts and will either starve or be preyed on as they don't have the skills to fend for or defend themselves.
“This bird is malnourished, with stress bars on its feathers, so it was likely purchased from a poultry market as opposed to being a pet,” Wild Bird Fund told IFLScience in an email. “It is also little more than a baby, barely older than fledging age and has probably never flown.”
If Flamingo recovers, he will be sent to a sanctuary with other domestic pigeons. As they point out in their Facebook posts, any form of dove, pigeon, or domestic animal release is cruel. “Please celebrate your life events peacefully without harming others.”
If you’d like to support Flamingo’s recovery, and other birds like it, you can contribute to the Wild Bird Fund here.