[CT Birds] Strange Blackbird

David F Provencher (Generation - 4) david.f.provencher at dom.com
Thu Jul 16 09:43:15 EDT 2015


Ted,

The white tail feathers were possibly caused by leucism, which is the lack of melanin pigment and is a variable and inherited condition. The lack of melanin cause the feathers to be white unless there are carotenoids (yellows) present as well. In such cases the feathers would likely appear paler and yellower than the species normal color. It is also possible that the tail feathers are white due to a defect in pigment cells (chromatophores) rather than a lack of melanin in the tail feathers. Leucism is different than albinism, which is caused by a genetic defect (no ability to produce melanin pigments at all) that affects the entire plumage. An entirely white bird (in a species that isn't white normally) can be either leucistic or albinistic, the key is the eye color. Such a bird with a pink eye is albino, while such a bird with a normally pigmented eye would be leucistic. Leucism is much more common than albinism.

Hope this helps.

Dave

-----Original Message-----
From: CTBirds [mailto:ctbirds-bounces at lists.ctbirding.org] On Behalf Of Theodore Groom via CTBirds
Sent: Thursday, July 16, 2015 8:20 AM
To: ctbirds at lists.ctbirding.org
Subject: [CT Birds] Strange Blackbird

I saw what appeared to be a blackbird in my yard this morning but it had a WHITE tail!  It was the size of a brown headed cowbird but was all black except for the tail which was clearly all white.  Any ideas?  I can send a photo if anyone would like.

Ted Groom
Northford, CT 
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