About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Bird of the Week: Mutant Hairy Woodpecker

This bird was at my feeder today.

Larger than a Downy, but it was the white beak that caught my eye.

I looked in Sibley's but couldn't find any (non-extinct) woodpeckers with a white beak. 

 
I'm inclined to think it was a mutant Hairy.
Sorry for the picture quality, but I was taking the shots quickly thru the glass, just as identifiers.  Any thoughts?



Hello, It can be difficult to identify birds that have abnormal coloring. You definitely have one unusual looking Hairy. I rarely have Hairy woodpeckers at my feeders let alone funny looking ones. You are very lucky!

The lack of color in the feet, bill and probably the skin are the result of a defect that prevents the production of melanin in certain areas of the body, but leaves the unaffected areas with normal amounts of melanin.

I’ve seen lots of leucistic birds with different colored feathers but none like yours. Right now scientists describe two kinds of Leucistic birds, pale and pied. Pale leucistic birds will have the same markings, but extremely pale. Pied Leucistic birds have patches of white.

Leucistic birds are relatively unusual but much more common than albino birds which are completely white with pink eyes, legs and bill.

You can learn more about albinism and leucism at: http://www.birds.cornell.edu/pfw/AboutBirdsandFeeding/Albinism_Leucism.htm

I would love to share your photos on the blog with your permission. Thank you for sharing your observation! Sarah

Hi, Sarah -- here's a better pic from an hour or so ago:

Apparently it's going to be a regular visitor.  Feel free to post it.  I'm in the Rose Lake area.
Oooh, Pretty! Thank you for letting me share this, Sarah

1 comment:

Terry said...

That is really pretty too. Lucky you on this sighting.