The Pink Mink Corella looks plain far off at the top of tall gumtrees.
In flocks they form a mass of off-white feathers, clinging to branches and squawking in the loud, unabashed way Australian birds can.
In Western Australia these birds are considered a pest by most of the population due to their overbreeding, roving around in large numbers and causing general destruction in their path of everything from large gumtrees to historic buildings.
In Mullewa, where Helen raises her family, actions have been taken to move them on including sounding off gunshots and actually culling flocks.
I have always had a soft spot for the birds. I often have hundreds of them taking up residency in the large gumtrees in my backyard – and their very loud screeching noises can often by heard as early as 4am in the morning!
But still I get a sense of wonder to look up from hanging my washing on the line in the backyard to see a hundred eyes looking back at me. I love seeing large flocks flying overhead, and even don’t seem to mind their noise!”Helen Ansell
“The Latin name for this native bird is Cacatua Pastinator Butleri. The adult bird is 40–48 centimetres (16–19 in) in length and weighs up to 700 grams (25 oz).
This sub-species consists of a population of 5000-10000 birds in the northern wheat-belt of Western Australia, where their numbers are increasing. Their habitat comprises undulating land with more than 90% of native vegetation cleared for farming of wheat and sheep, the remaining woodland and shrub vegetation communities are restricted to small isolated patches and road reserves; a setting in which these birds thrive.
Breeding occurs from May to October, and usually takes place earlier in the north of its range. The nest is typically in a tree hollow, cliff cavity or termite mound. When the nestlings are mature enough the family groups join up with the immature flocks and move to summer feeding locations, often in towns.
From January to March, when the young have been weaned, the parents move back to the breeding grounds, again becoming separate from the immature flocks. Corellas eat a variety of both wild and cultivated seeds. Most individuals display an attachment to their natal area.”Don Miller
There is something cartoonish about this bird – large black dots for eyes, proud white crest atop its head. The Corella’s beak seems to smile a cheeky grin.
Whether or not they are wanted in their ever growing numbers, they seem unaffected by people’s opinions of them. Squawking proudly, hanging upside down from spindly branches blissfully unaware of the shaken fists of locals below them being showered by gum-nuts.
“One day we rescued an injured bird on the road which we surrendered to a birdlife sanctuary. I was surprised to discover the pretty pink around the bird’s eyes – he was so friendly and I have since discovered that they make great companions as pets and can even talk.
I wanted to do a pretty painting of a Corella in an attempt to drum up a bit more love, appreciation and sympathy for them – their large numbers are actually our own fault after all as we have cleared their habitat and planted lots of lovely farming grain for them to eat.”Helen Ansell
Pink Mink Corella is now available for purchase as part of the Helen Ansell Fine Art Print Collection