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Plumage abnormalities result in stunning birds

December 6, 2011

FeederWatchers often see birds with unexpected plumage characteristics, many of which are birds that lack pigment in certain feathers. This condition is known as “leucism” and can take the form of a few white feathers here and there or a completely pale bird. FeederWatcher Bob Williams of Huntley, Illinois, recently snapped this photo of an American Goldfinch that lacked the yellow-gold color over much of its body.

Leucistic American Goldfinch by Bob Williams.

Gary Mueller of Rolla, Missouri, submitted photos of another common feeder bird, a Dark-eyed Junco, with limited pigment in all of its feathers.

Leucistic Dark-eyed Junco by Gary Mueller.

To learn more about leucism and see photos of other unusual-looking birds, visit the “strange looking birds” section of the FeederWatch web site.

  1. December 6, 2011 2:03 pm

    I was lucky enough this past spring to watch a leucistic Eastern kingbird grow up.

  2. Sue Walsh permalink
    December 6, 2011 4:06 pm

    I have several photos of a leucistic american Robin which wintered in my FL yard a few years ago

  3. December 6, 2011 4:42 pm

    I had an American Robin with ‘racing stripes’ visit my grapevines this fall. On its right side it had two white wing-feathers and two in its tail. When it was perched the bold slash of white was very striking. I wish I could have gotten a picture!

  4. Claudia Green permalink
    December 6, 2011 5:31 pm

    We have a Cardinal with mostly white feathers. He/she is actually quite beautiful. We can’t tell if it’s a male or female. This is his/her second year at our feeders. I do have a picture of him/her that I’ll send to FeederWatch.

    Last year we also had a Cardinal that was a beautiful pink peach color all over. Unfortunately, we didn’t see him/her this Spring.

  5. December 6, 2011 5:32 pm

    Last April, I photographed a leucistic belted kingfisher at Rocky Gap State Park in western Maryland ( What a neat looking color scheme!

  6. Cia Rising permalink
    December 6, 2011 6:48 pm

    I live in Hanover, NH, and we had an almost totally white turkey in our neighborhood this summer. As he aged he got a few more dark feathers but the last time I saw him he was very white. When he was young, his siblings picked on him. Kind of sad. We also have a crow who has little dots of white amongst his “raven” black feathers.

  7. Dave Boltz permalink
    December 6, 2011 10:02 pm

    Check out this leucistic Am. Robin in Alexandria, VA a couple of years ago .

  8. virginia harrington hutchison permalink
    January 12, 2012 7:32 pm

    I have a dark eye junco with racing stripes visiting me the past few weeks. I sent photo into Cornell feeder watch.

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