Leucistic White-Throated Sparrow

A puffy white face caught my attention early Monday morning. I couldn’t get a good look at the bird through the branches of the hydrangea tree in the few seconds before it disappeared. It took until from Monday to Thursday to get a good look and determine that the bird is a leucistic white-throated sparrow. This morning, now that he’s comfortable being here, I was able to stand on the sun porch and take a few photos through the window.

Old Man Peabody Peabody Peabody – one of my favorite songs of spring.

This particular leucistic white-throated sparrow doesn’t seem to be affected by his leucism. Affected feathers can be weakened and wear out early. Some of his flight feathers are white but he seems to get around just fine. Weaker feathers can be poor insulators, a serious problem for heavily affected birds in cold climates. Leucism in birds is an abnormal coloring due to a genetic mutation that prevents pigment, most often melanin, from spreading through the feathers properly.

It’s not albinism, the complete lack of pigment. This affects only the feathers. You might hear this condition referred to as pied or piebald, the same as we hear about piebald deer.

Leucism interfers with the bird’s protection camouflage so I’m watching out for the merlins (a pair). One of them hit a window this morning, stagger-flew to a nearby tree, and rested for ten minutes before leaving. I’ll post a normally colored white-throated sparrow as soon as I have a photo so that you may compare the two.

leucistic white-throated sparrow, leucism, piebald, piebald birds
leucistic white-throated sparrow, Maine, bird watching, leucism, piebald
leucistic white-throated sparrow, leucism, piebald birds
white-throated sparrow

Other New Arrivals

I saw one leucistic chickadee late last week but haven’t seen it since. A single male ruby throated humming bird arrived on May 9 and frequents the feeders. Wood ducks are visiting the pond early in the morning and evening when my ducks aren’t there. Another new visitor this week – a male rose-breasted grosbeak. I was able to get a couple of photos this morning. I’ll share them soon.