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Featured Photos: Unusual cardinal, leucistic junco

March 26, 2011

FeederWatchers recently shared photos of two stunning birds that we wanted to share with everyone. First, Frank Sommer of Felton, Pennsylvania noticed an unusually gray female Northern Cardinal in his yard. Female cardinals typically show a warm, buff-brown color on the head and body. This bird, however, is a stark gray, similar in color to the Dark-eyed Junco in front of her in the picture. Otherwise, the bird appears normal and seems to produce all of the normal pigments except for those responsible for creating brown colors.

This unusually gray Northern Cardinal was seen by FeederWatcher Frank Sommer in Felton, PA.

Another interesting bird photographed by FeederWatcher John DeVoter of Newmarket, New Hampshire, turns out to be a leucistic Dark-eyed Junco. According to John, “The bird is all white with black tips on its wings and tail, a black eye, and a light orange beak and legs.” This bird is lacking pigment in most of its feathers, but the dark colors on a few feathers and the black eye mean that it is not a true albino.

A leucistic Dark-eyed Junco by John DeVoter, Newmarket, NH.

For more information on the differences between albinism and leucism, follow the link to the FeederWatch web site.

8 Comments
  1. June Olsen permalink
    May 3, 2011 3:40 am

    The person from New Market Newhampahire John Devoter What time of day did you see this bird? Was the mate close was this the male or female. I quessing male . I would like to know the colors of the mate.

  2. trudy jahr permalink
    November 3, 2011 10:00 pm

    Unusual cardinal? We have a bird that comes to our feeder, has the body, orange beak, and brown color of the female cardinal but has a pure white head with little white crown.

  3. Sue permalink
    January 8, 2012 10:55 am

    We just saw one!!! I live in Gonic, just down the road. 10:30 am. Took a pic that isn’t the best, so I googled.

  4. Miranda Severance permalink
    January 15, 2012 2:33 pm

    Leutistic is an overused term, and its definition among birders and other animal enthusiasts too broad to really mean anything other than “kind of whitish”. See here: http://www.sibleyguides.com/2011/08/abnormal-coloration-in-birds-melanin-reduction/

    I’d say that the (really beautiful) grey cardinal is non-phaeomelanic or aphaeomelanistic, and that the dark-eyed junco is a partially leucistic or piebald bird experiencing heavy degrees of white spotting. It’s not, strictly speaking, a full leucistic bird, because full leucism prevents ALL black pigment in the plumage, only allowing its presence in the skin, eyes, and beak.

  5. Royce Haynes permalink
    February 27, 2012 8:09 pm

    I live in Mullica Hill, New Jersey. Have the same grey cardinals here. Saw one individual at feeder during winter 2010-2011. Have seen 4 individuals at the same time this winter season, so they appear to be multiplying. The observation above indicated that the bird was a female. The ones here are challenging and driving off the red males at the feeder, so I wonder if there may be both male and female greys.

  6. Linda Diehl permalink
    February 7, 2013 5:31 pm

    I’ve had a partially leucistic junco coming to my feeder a couple times for the past two weeks. It’s head is almost all white and the rest of the body is pure junco (oregon). I live in Red Bluff, California

  7. Nancy Wigen permalink
    October 22, 2013 5:35 am

    I have had a partly white Oregon Junco coming to my feeder for the past 2 weeks. One other junco has normal colour except for 2 white spots on his back. last year I had at my feeder one Junco male with white spots on his head and back. I also had one female(?) that was very pale, a pastel version of a Junco. Other Juncos chased the pastel bird away, but didn’t mind the ones with white spots.
    Nancy Wigen newssi@telus.net

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