Tuesday, February 19, 2013

John names the pale robin

photo of a leucistic American Robin in Prospect Park, taken from Robb Jett's website: [citybirder.blogspot.com]

Just received the following explanatory note from our old friend 
John Blakeman in Ohio:


The pale robin [in yesterday's post] is a "leucistic" American Robin. This is not so infrequent in this species. It conveys a slight disadvantage, inasmuch as it draws the attention of Cooper's Hawks and other bird-eating raptors. If the robin is otherwise healthy (usually the case), the bird can be attentive and avoid an aerial pounce of a Cooper's Hawk.
But in some cases, the bird's inability to lay down proper pigments during feather development is associated by other genetic defects which can restrict the robin's attentiveness or ability to safely escape. That's almost surely not the case with this leucistic bird, as it's survived the summer, fall, and much of the winter with its light-colored feathers.
A good number of hawks have been visually attracted to its white feathers, but it's been a survivor.

John Blakeman