India Dyes Birds

By: Lisette Yanez


In India, wild, common, and cheap birds are being dyed and advertised as much more rare and exotic than they really are, thus bringing the price up.

India’s market is filled with dyed birds of all species. Passionate environment and wildlife journalist, Moushumi Basu, writes, “…traders may paint the parakeet’s head orange and sell it as an imported exotic bird.”

Another popular trick is claiming that the bird, such as a colorful parakeet, is rare because it’s not its usual color. Basu explains, “Black dye is applied to the parakeet’s entire body so the trader can sell it as a pricey ‘rare mutation’.”

Not only are these bird traders lying to their customers, but they’re also committing unethical acts against nature. The dyes often have unsafe chemicals that seep in through the bird’s pores, resulting in illness.

spotted-owlet-dyed-spotted-owlet-coloured-eyes-and-dyed-spotted-owletpngAccording to Basu, many traders use, “shoe polish, lamp soot, spray paint, oil, coal dust, textile dyes, and food coloring,” to dye the birds. These birds are in danger, not only because of the materials used to dye them, but also because of the unpredictable reactions, from the people who bought them, after they realize they’ve been fooled.

And of course they will find as either the dye wears off or the birds feathers fall off and are replaced by their true colors.

To trap the birds, they often use harmful and cruel methods. According to Basu, “…spreading glue onto branches and using insects or bird decoys as bait.” In an attempt to free themselves from being stuck, they run the high risk of injuring their wings and/or legs.

Basu mentioned, “They’re helpless until a trapper shows up to detach them. Later, the birds are cleaned with a mixture of kerosene and cow dung ash.”

India doesn’t have any rules to prohibit this unethical treatment against birds. For now, the birds have to hang tight as there are many environmentalists in India who report when they see cruel treatment towards them.



Moushumi, Basu. “Dyed but Alive, Disguised Birds Skirt Laws and Fetch High Prices.” National Geographic, SEPTEMBER 10, 2016, Accessed September 2016.

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