Turmeric — that yellowy-orange spice from Indian and Caribbean cuisine — is having a bit of a moment among health-conscious Westerners. The so-called “superfood” is turning up in everything from anti-aging pills and supplements to “golden” lattes and smoothies.
It’s even turning up on birds.
A U.K. animal hospital says it rescued an unusual bright-orange bird from the side of the road, only to discover that it was actually a seagull whose feathers had been stained by turmeric.
Tiggywinkles Wildlife Hospital posted several photos of the bird on social media, calling it one of the “strangest” discoveries its employees have seen in some time.
“He had somehow gotten himself covered in curry or turmeric,” the hospital wrote in a post on Facebook. “It was all over his feathers, preventing him from flying properly.”
Staff nicknamed the bird “Vinny,” after vindaloo curry. They say the bird had a “pungent smell” but was otherwise healthy.
Turmeric is a powerful staining agent that’s difficult to wash out of fabric. It’s also a key ingredient in many curry recipes.
Tiggywinkles vets couldn’t explain how the bird came by its orange makeover, but several people had their own theories in the comments section on Facebook.
“He was just trying to spice up his life,” Facebook user Jake Ingram said.
“Thought it was a phoenix,” user Esther Etches wrote.
“I thought he was covered in Cheetos cheese crumbs at first,” added user Linda Santackas Degnan. “Glad he’s okay!”
Others suggested the animal might have fallen in a vat of curry.
The animal hospital gave the bird a thorough wash and restored it to its original white, grey and black colouring.
It was a decidedly mundane rebirth for a bird that some mistook for a mythical phoenix.
The seagull was found on a road outside the town of Aylesbury, approximately 75 kilometres northwest of London.