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Why Is That Bird Part White? Leucism!

If you see a bird with abnormal white feathers or washed-out plumage, that bird may have a genetic condition called leucism, (pronounced LUKE-ism). Leucism prevents pigments from reaching some — or sometimes all — of a bird’s feathers. Check out these photos of leucistic birds by several BirdNote photo contributors:

A Black-capped Chickadee
leucistic Black-capped Chickadee

A Northern Shoveler — you can tell it's a shoveler, rather than a domestic duck, by looking closely at its bill
leucistic Northern Shoveler

A Fox Sparrow
leucistic Fox Sparrow

From one of the largest of our birds, the Bald Eagle, to one of the smallest, the Anna's Hummingbird
Bald Eagle and Anna's Hummingbird leucistic

A Dark-eyed Junco — the pink bill is a giveaway
leucistic Dark-eyed Junco

Three different American Robins, with varying degrees of leucism
American Robin leucistic - head leucism

American Robin leucistic - leucism

American Robin leucistic Tom Muir

This Red-tailed Hawk is almost completely white, but lacks the red eye of an "albinistic" bird.
leucistic Red-tailed Hawk

Dory and Ray Hamlyn named their local leucistic American Crow "Blondie"
American Crow leucistic with peanut leucism
American Crow leucistic flight leucism
American Crow leucistic foraging leucism

This Great-tailed Grackle was spotted by perennial photo contributor, Greg Lavaty, and photographed by Joanne Kamo
Great-tailed Grackle leucistic


Thanks to photo contributors, Dory Hamlyn, Mike Hamilton, Gregg Thompson, Robin Agarwal, Larry Jordan, Pat Gaines, Tom Muir, Joanne Kamo, and Greg Lavaty

Listen to the BirdNote story, Why Is My Robin Half-white?

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