I nipped down to the Staffs Wildlife Trust Headquarters today to hand in my forms to join Staffs Wildlife Trust. As I drove down the drive, 2 birds foraging in the grass immediately caught my eye as they were a very unusual colour! I quickly realised that they were young crows… but not the normal black coloration. These two were what is known as ‘Leucistic’. Leucism is a condition in animals caused by reduced pigmentation. It can result in either the entire surface or parts of the animal having reduced pigmentation. Leucism affects only the bird’s feathers, and typically only those with melanin pigment – usually dark feathers. A leucistic bird with different colors may show some colors brightly, especially red, orange or yellow, while feathers that should be brown or black are instead pale or white. Some leucistic birds, however, can lose all the pigment in their feathers and may appear pure white. Albinism, however, affects all the pigments and albino birds show no color whatsoever in their feathers. Albino animals tend to have pink eyes, yet Leucistic animals often have normal coloured eyes.
These two crows had blue eyes. They looked like young individuals and I presume they are from the same clutch. With this lovely soft coffee coloration, they are certainly going to cause some interest and will confuse some people! Leucism can cause issues with individual birds, as they can be more obvious to predators due to unusual markings. Sometimes, as plumage is so important in courtship, such individuals find it difficult to find a mate.
These two seemed to be coping just fine and it was great to see them… I thought they looked rather attractive!