Wednesday, July 17, 2013

An ivory woodpecker

Photo: Irene Kohne

Such a woodpecker as this would be sure to cause one to take a second glance, and a third glance, and run fast for the camera. Fortunately, Irene Kohne did just that, and was able to make some nice images of this "Ivory" Woodpecker (No, not Ivory-billed Woodpecker!).

This bark-pounder has been coming to her Brown County, Ohio feeder and is apparently doing just fine. It is a leucistic (loo-kiss-tik) Red-bellied Woodpecker, Melanerpes carolina, and is certainly far from typical for that species. Leucism is a genetic abnormality that causes normally dark melanin pigments to become washed out and pale, leading to such animals as "piebald" White-tailed Deer, or white-patched American Robins.

A quick glance around the Internet revealed a few other examples of leucistic Red-bellied Woodpeckers, but none so fine as Irene's ivory-colored bird. This fellow is nearly wholly white, but notice the small amount of red bleeding through on the crown patch on the forehead, which indicates its maleness, and some brownish coloration bleeding through on the underparts. I suspect the dark-tipped tail feathers are the result of staining from the bird propping itself against various surfaces.

Magnificent animal, and here's hoping it lives long and prospers. Thanks to Irene for sharing!

A typical male Red-bellied Woodpecker.

1 comment:

Gaia Gardener: said...

Fun to see. Thanks to you and Irene for sharing this individual with us!