Sunday, November 09, 2008

Local Leucism

Leucism is a genetic condition when a animal has reduced pigmentation and is different from the albino state in that the bird or animal has normal coloured eyes. Leucistic birds are occasionally found but the only one I have ever seen was a pure white starling, many, many years ago. On one on my local lakes a pair of normal coloured moorhens have produced two leucistic young. Apparently they produced one last year but it disappeared, presumed dead. Obviously I was keen to investigate. Before I went to visit them, I did a bit of a search on the net and there are probably no more than four of these white moorhens in the UK which makes them somewhat special.
On arriving at the lake I had no problems spotting them as they really stood out with their glowing white plumage. Obviously not a great advantage when predators are about! I paid a couple of early morning visits to the lake before work to get some photos, of which a selection are posted below. For those of you not acquainted with the normal colouring of a moorhen....and now on to the leuistic version
Also instead of the usual lime green coloured legs these birds have orange legs.
Now if the estimate of four birds in the UK is correct, then this next photo contains half the UK population.


Anonymous said...

Getting half the UK population in a closeup shot sure is a feet!
Extraordinary - both image quality and topic! Hat's off, Rich!
Cheers, Klaus

T and S said...

Increbile series. I never knew that their plumage changes to dazzling white.

Your images have captured it very well, I like the way you have perfectly exposed it to ensure you didn't blow out the white. Beautiful...Thomas

T and S said...

I also noticed that you keep changing your title image.

This is a stunning capture with incredible details...Thomas

Mike said...

How remarkable! I've never seen leucistic moorhens but I have to say that I like the effect.

Anonymous said...

Great find and photos of the leuistic birds. My favorite is the last photograph where they are overlapping from opposite ends.

Rich Steel said...

Many thanks for the replies. I hope the pair survive as they are so bright white they are likely to be an easy target for passing sparrowhawk or heron.




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