Friday, November 30, 2012

Leucistic Birds

Irv wrote:  I found your article in the Houston Chronicle on leucistic birds very interesting and informative.  We live in Conroe in Stewart’s Forest and fortunately still have lots of trees around us.  We feed the birds black oiler sunflower seeds and have bird baths  in our yard so we have a good variety of birds who visit our back yard.  One of the birds is a cardinal with a white head.  From the rest of the coloring I assume it is a female cardinal.  You stated in your article that some birds with luecism have a hard time attracting a mate due to lack of their specific species color.  I believe that this cardinal may have mated because on occasion I have seen one or two other cardinals with white plumage on their heads although their unusual coloring is not quite as obvious as the one we see more frequently.

My Answer:  Well, apparently your leucistic female cardinal has beat the odds and attracted a mate.  If she did mate, she would have passed on her defective genes and potentially produced the one or two other leucistic cardinals you've seen.  Hard to know for sure without genetic analysis , so we can only guess.  Be on the lookout for other leucistic species.  If you see more birds with leucism other than the one or two cardinals, that could indicate some contaminate in their environment (it would not be in your sunflower seed.) 

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