Whitish Dark-eyed Junco? Ludicrous - No, Leucistic!
Updated: Dec 16, 2020
Watched Dark-eyed Juncos and some Sparrows foraging below our winter feeders. Then I saw this unusual looking bird. Scroll through the photos above to see.
It looked somewhat like a sparrow; or a goldfinch. But it was so white with gray streaks. I reached out to users of iNaturalist.org and learned that this was a Dark-eyed Junco. A leucistic Dark-eyed Junco.
Leucism is a partial loss of pigmentation which will make a bird or animal have white or patchily streaked skin, feathers or hair. Where there is not complete loss of pigmentation, this effect is sometimes referred to as the "piebald" effect. This condition is different from albinism which is the absence of melanin.
This lovely leucistic Dark-eyed Junco stood out from the other Dark-eyed Juncos. There was not dark gray upper body and head. Rather it was white with streaks of dark gray in its feathers. An unusual and rare sighting. But nature does always throw a surprise our ways now and again.
So keep your eyes on your feeders and - if you are lucky - maybe a leucistic Dark-eyed Junco will be foraging below.