Jack Olson, my neighbor down the road and one of the Gazette’s roving photographers, saw a Robin the other day. But it’s not just any Robin. It’s a really cool Robin I’ve never seen before – one with white splotches.
Jack says it’s known as a Leucistic Robin, and it comes to his yard every day around 8:30 and stays until around 9. He didn’t say, but I’m assuming that’s in the morning, Robins being early risers who get the worm and all.
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Michael Stein over at Audubon.org has this to say about these interesting birds:
The abnormal feathers on these birds are the result of a genetic condition called leucism (pronounced LUKE-ism), which prevents pigments from reaching some – or sometimes all – of a bird’s feathers. The degree of leucism varies with a bird’s genetic makeup. But the skin and eyes remain their normal pigment and color.
He notes that Albino birds are distinctly different, being entirely white with pink eyes and skin. Albinism also has a different origin – problems with an enzyme called tyrosinase, which is the result of an inability to make melanin, the pigment that gives skin, feathers and eyes their color.
He also says we’re much more likely to see a leucistic bird than an albinistic one, and that any bird with white patches or washed out plumage could be leucistic.
Thanks for sending the photos over, Jack! I’ll be on the lookout for leucistic birds now, and will know what they’re all about rather than thinking the world is coming to an end.
Got OMP photos you’d like to share with Gazette readers? Send them to me at [email protected].