Congratulations to Daron Tansley for winning the December 2020 Photo-observation of the Month for the Vermont Atlas of Life on iNaturalist. Daron’s image of a leucistic Red-tailed Hawk garnered the most likes by iNaturalist users.
Leucism is a genetic condition in which parts or all of an animal’s body surface lack cells capable of producing pigment. (The word is derived from the Greek word leukos, meaning “white”.) Leucism is different than albinism, another similar condition in birds. Considered to be extremely rare in the wild, albinism is marked by a total lack of melanin. Leucism, notably, only impacts the bird’s feathers, while albinism is apparent in the feathers and elsewhere. Albino animals almost always sport red eyes, as well as pale pink or red skin, feet and bills. Leucistic birds usually have normally colored eyes, skin and feet; the condition of leucism only impacts the feathers.
Visit the Vermont Atlas of Life on iNaturalist where you can vote for the winner this month by clicking the ‘fave’ star on your favorite photo-observation. Make sure you get outdoors and record the biodiversity around you, then submit your discoveries and you could be a winner!
Thought you might like to see this, I have never seen this condition in a bird in the wild. Must make them an easy target for larger predatory birds…