ANIMAL ART OF THE DAY for World Parrot Day: Two Majolica Cockatoos

May 31st is World Parrot Day!

To celebrate, here are two cockatoos seen at the recent Majolica Mania exhibition at the Walters Art Museum:

1. Cockatoo Jug, attributed to Shorter & Boulton, c. 1880s. Walters Art Museum [photo by author]
Cockatoo Vase, Mintons Ltd., designed c. 1874, this piece 1910. Walters Art Museum [photo by author]

The shape and coloring of the first piece most closeresembleles the real-life male Gang-gang Cockatoo (Callocephalon fimbriatum), native to SE Australia:

Gang-gang Cockatoos, male (L) and female (R) pair
[Wikimedia Commons cc by-sa 4.0]

As for the second piece, while the morphology with its psittaciform shape and prominent crest is certainly also based on real-life Cockatoos (family Cacatuidae), the coloration is just fantasy. Although green is indeed one of the most commonly seen colors in Parrots (order Psittaciformes) in general, none of the 21 extant species of cockatoos wear it! Rather, the cockatoos all have either white, grey, or black bodies, with highlights of pink/red/orange/yellow:

Cockatoos – all 21 species

(Bonus fun fact: unlike most other birds, who get those bright pink/orange/yellow colors from carotenoids in their diet, parrots synthesize their own unique pigments called psittacofulvins.)

As seen with these other two pairs of majolica cockatoos manufactured by Minton in the early 20th century, it seems like while the base forms were generally naturalistic, it could go either way when it came time to glaze them whether they would be made to look more naturalistic or more fantastical!

Pair of Mintons majolica cockatoos, early 20th century, painted with naturalistic colors
[1st Dibs]
Pair of Mintons majolica cockatoos, early 20th century, painted with fantasy colors
[1st Dibs]
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