Monday, April 17, 2023

New face at the bird feeder

A flash of white caught my eye the other day, as a new bird showed up at the feeder.

I was puzzled because we don't have any white birds in the region. My first thought was it was an albino Cassin's finch, but it didn't have the characteristic albino features (pink eyes, legs, and beak). Nor was its plumage true white.

A few moments of research determined it's a leucistic Cassin's finch. According to this website, "A lesser-known genetic condition is called leucism. Unlike albinism, leucism doesn’t completely eliminate pigment. Leucistic birds have incredibly varied patterns. They may appear more muted than their counterparts or they can be dotted with white patches. These birds are occasionally mistaken for albinos, but leucistic birds always have some pigment in their feathers or other body parts, such as their feet, eyes or beak."

I mean, how cool is this?

Some sources I read indicated leucistic birds often get picked on by other birds, but I saw no indication of this. The white bird behaved just the same as the other Cassin's finches. However, that same online source added, "Birds with discoloration may struggle during courtship. Many birds use plumage color as a way to find and recognize potential mates."

Now that he (she?) has found his way to the feeder, I see him often. It's always a pleasure.

The only thing I noticed is this leucistic bird doesn't stand as high on its legs. Below is a regular Cassin's finch:

This leucistic finch, while appearing perfectly healthy, sits back more on its haunches. Perhaps it has weaker legs? No idea.

Regardless, it's a pretty bird, and very welcome at the feeder.


  1. So pretty. I wish we had bird but that would mean we need a feeder and we have been advised that feedersbring the bears, so decided against it.

    1. I keep noticing finches hanging out in the privit in the woods. Other birds too. As much as I hate that invasive bush, bears might not feel as drawn to it as birds are. Maybe you can find something to plant the birds love but bears don't.

  2. I love beautiful little finches.

  3. I have recently learned about the leucistic coloring in birds and follow Angel, the leucistic red tailed hawk. She sitting on eggs and has a nest cam. Thanks for sharing your beautiful finch!