[CT Birds] White-headed Finch, and more

Roy Harvey rmharvey at snet.net
Sun Feb 24 23:10:49 EST 2013

On 2/19 I posted a report from Ann Pacheco about a white-headed House Finch.  Alan Brush learned of the report and sent me the analysis below.  Fascinating stuff!

Roy Harvey
Beacon Falls, CT


Lisa Wahle send me a link to your photo of the White headed House Finch. Interesting. When I down load the larger image, it is difficult to see color in any feathers. Normally the color on the head is due to carotenoid pigments in the feathers. These seem to be absent in any feathers.
The implication is, that when the bird molted into this plumage either there was no pigment in the diet, or the pigment was not absorbed in the gut or deposited in the growing follicle. If the bird is healthy and appears to have no vision problems, then I would guess it is a problem in the follicle. The reason being that vitamin A, an important component in vision, is also absorbed in the gut, and deposited in the eye.
I hope this helps. 
Alan H Brush
Mystic, CT


--- On Tue, 2/19/13, Roy Harvey <rmharvey at snet.net> wrote:

> From: Roy Harvey <rmharvey at snet.net>
> Subject: [CT Birds] White-headed Finch, and more
> To: ctbirds at lists.ctbirding.org
> Date: Tuesday, February 19, 2013, 10:24 PM
>  From Ann Pacheco:
> white headed house finch? and bluebirds, oh my!
> I spotted this house finch that has a beautiful white head
> over the weekend.  It is always in the company of other
> house finches.  Does anyone have any information about
> this?  You may see a photo here:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/annmpacheco/
> Also, I have had a flock of about thirty bluebirds for the
> last four days.  There is quite a range of maturity and
> their coloring is just beautiful.  I made my first
> batch of bluebird suet nuggets and also provide a supply of
> meal worms.  I am in the process of putting up bluebird
> houses in hopes of having some stay and begin their nesting
> season.  Their photos can also be seen at the above
> address.  I am looking forward to any input you may
> have about this white headed house finch .  Thanks,
> Ann

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