Wednesday, February 6, 2013

white-headed what?

You might think that mature bald eagles were the only white-headed birds in East Tennessee.

But Sarah Risdahl from Morristown has one. She sent me this photo of this odd, mystery bird coming to her bird feeder. Blackish body, white head. Definitely not in any of her field guides. No, sir. Not there.

But if you take out your imaginary terra cotta (number PC944) Prismacolor pencil and color in the white head, voila, you get a brown-headed cowbird.

In birds, albinism is somewhat rare, perhaps only one in 1800 individuals. Some are solid white but the most common form is termed partial albinism, only part of the bird's body, such as certain feathers, are lacking the pigment melanin. I once wrote about a crow that had a single white feather on one wing.

An albino snowy egret would be difficult to discern, yet I suppose it is possible.  


Patricia Lichen said...

I learn something new every darn day, especially when I come visiting at your website.

Red Maple Tree said...

Brown headed cowbird this is really interesting bird. I have never seen this type of bird. Thank you so much for shearing wonderful post.

Marie said...

Oh, this was fascinating!