updated 03/12/2014 AT 11:30 AM ET
•originally published 03/11/2014 AT 3:25 PM ET
Once upon a time … there was a colorful parrot who escaped from his pirate ship sailing the Atlantic and made a new home on land in the concrete jungle of New York City, where he fell in love with a friendly city pigeon. They made a home together in Queens and gave birth to beautiful, colorful bird babies.
Or something like that.
That was just one of our far-fetched theories after photos surfaced on Facebook of what appears to be a parrot-pigeon hybrid.
The half-pigeon, half-parrot-looking birds have reportedly been spotted in Long Island City, and their mysterious origins are ruffling feathers, reports Gothamist, because experts believe that they were dyed.
Tod Winston of the New York City Audubon says those colorful feathers could cause the birds harm.
“Though they are pretty, it is most likely not good for the birds; birds preen their feathers and will likely ingest the paint [which might be toxic] when they do so,” he says. “The paint will also make the pigeons more obvious to predators – and if they are killed and eaten by predators, such as our native red-tailed hawks, the hawks will themselves ingest the paint and possibly be harmed by it.”
Why, you might ask, would someone give a bird a dye-job? Bird beauty, it seems, is in the eye of the beholder.
“It might be that they just like the way the dyes look,” Onorio Catenacci, a pigeon fancier from Michigan, tells Gothamist. “Or it may be that they’re trying to make their pigeons easier to identify from the ground.”