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, January 20, 2019

Photo Share: Odd white-winged sparrow

We have an interesting house sparrow visiting our feeder here in Lansing with white feathers on the side of its wings as well as in its tail. When it flies, you can really see the flash of white in both wings and tail. Odd!- Jennifer Otto

Cool! I have a similar male House Sparrow in front of the Wild Birds Unlimited store (https://bird-with-no-tail.html). He started out with no tail and it grew back white. Occasionally a bird will lose feathers in a close call with a predator. When this happens the new feathers sometimes grow in white and then change back to the normal color at the next regular molt.

Or this kind of white coloring could also be leucism. Leucism refers to an abnormality in the deposition of pigment in feathers. There is some disagreement as to whether the condition is genetic or caused by pigment cells that were damaged during development. Whatever the cause, the condition can result in a reduction in all types of pigment, causing pale or muted colors on the entire bird. Or like your bird the condition can cause irregular patches of white, and birds with these white patches are sometimes described as “pied” or “piebald."

Thanks for the info. I'm more inclined to think it is leucism as each wing is identically white on the outside edge.

Thank you for sharing your observations! If anyone would like to share a photograph of nature send it to bloubird@gmail.com and I'll put it on the Friday Photo posts.

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