Friday, February 24, 2017

A Sammamish River bird

Credit/ John Reinke
What's this bird?

 For some help and a description "READ MORE"

It's a "Piebald Robin"

Credit/ John Reinke
John Reinke - 

This  piebald robin was close to the Opportunity Building.  I took the photo printouts to tonight's Eastside Audubon meeting, and showed them to the group of 50-55 who were present.  I asked if anyone had ever seen one (meaning specifically a piebald robin).  To my surprise, 3 or 4 persons said they had.  

One woman told me she had seen a piebald chickadee at her feeder.  Another woman said she'd seen a piebald towhee.  And yet another woman said she'd seen a piebald Oregon junco.

I first heard the word "piebald" as a child in reference to horses, whose coloration was referred to as "piebald".  Nowadays they might be more commonly be referred to as "pinto" horses.  A piebald robin would be more scientifically referred to as a "leucistic" robin. (See more about leucism below.)

Here is some info about the term "piebald", taken for the Wikipedia entry for that term:

1) The word "piebald" originates from a combination of "pie," from "magpie," and "bald", meaning "white patch" or spot.[1] The reference is to the distinctive black-and white plumage of the magpie.[2]

Credit/ John Reinke
2)The bald eagle derives its name from the word "piebald" in reference to the contrast of its white head and tail with dark body.

3) Many other animal species may also be "pied" or piebald including, but not limited to, squirrels and birdsSnakes, especially ball pythons and corn snakes, may also exhibit seemingly varying patches of completely pigmentless scales along with patches of pigmented scales. 

4) The underlying genetic cause is related to a condition known as leucism.

5) Leucism  is a condition in which there is partial loss of pigmentation in an animal resulting in white, pale, or patchy coloration of the skin, hair, feathers, scales or cuticle, but not the eyes.[1] Unlike albinism, it is caused by a reduction in multiple types of pigment, not just melanin.

Finally, here is a link to a Seattle Times story about piebald deer that was published on August 2, 2015:
Accompanying the article is an excellent photo of a piebald deer.

HAVE YOU EVER SEEN ONE?  (comment below)


Richard Kenny said...

Nice photo and interesting commentary.

Mike Moreland said...

A new thing to learn. That's interesting. I can't remember seeing one.