Birds: Leucism or Leucistic

posted in: Birds | 1

Leucisim is a partial loss of colour/pigmentation in birds. It causes white spots or splotches. In birds it does not effect the colour of eyes therefore the birds are not considered albino.

On the rainy days this month I have been compiling our life list of birds. We have always been bird watchers and highlighted birds seen in the index of the Roger Tory Peterson’s Eastern Birds, but never included any dates.

favourite bird books at craftygardener.ca

My digital photo archives started in 2003, so I have been going back through those files (which are thankfully sorted into folders with each bird name) and cross referencing everything. What a process!

bird photo folders

I wrote out a list of birds highlighted from the bird book, then went back through each bird folder and found the first documented digital photo and that is the date I used.

Over the years we have has a few different leucistic birds in the garden. While working on the life list of birds I came across these various photos.

craftygardener.ca - a partial albino grackle

On August 10, 2018 a partial leucistic grackle visited the flat feeder. Just the head was missing some of the coloured pigmentation. Grackles can be annoying birds, eating all the food in the feeders and scaring off the smaller birds. But they do have gorgeous colourings.

craftygardener.ca - a partial albino grackle

You can see similar features to the common grackle – the longish tail, sturdy beak, and long legs.

a leucitic dove at craftygardener.ca

In October 2023 we captured photos of a leucistic dove. Here are some photos of doves. Doves are year round visitors to the garden, are lifelong mates, are always cooing but they do leave a terrible mess behind.

a leucistic blackbird at craftygardener.ca

In July 2023 a leucistic grackle/blackbird stopped by the feeder. It looks a bit scary and is probably a juvenile one.

leucistic red bellied woodpecker visiting craftygardener.ca

There was also a leucistic red bellied woodpecker at the peanut feeder. A pure white head, so different from the red bellied woodpecker.

Nature never fails to amaze me.

The camera is always ready to take a photo of birds at the feeders, and we are hoping to see a different leucistic bird this year.

favourite bird books at craftygardener.ca
some of my favourite bird books

The life list is getting close to being finished. I now have a computer file and it will be added to a birthday gift book my husband received this year.

birders logbook at craftygardener.ca

Do you have a bird life list? How do you keep it?

favourite bird books at craftygardener.ca
a favourite bird book with amazing illustrations
garden line

more birds in the garden

  1. Robin

    Hi Linda, leucistic birds are so interesting! I have only seen a Robin one. He hung around Brighton for a few months. I have The Peterson Guide To Birds my parents gave up back in 1987. I don’t have a life list per se, more so little pieces of paper stuck in the book! 😆😆 I have my camera at the ready too right by the window that looks out at the feeders.
    Take care!❤️

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