Sunday, January 12, 2020

And now, a (partially) white blue jay!

So, just a few days ago, a melanistic fox squirrel appears in the yard. I wrote about that oddity in my last post. This morning I glance out the back window and what do I see? This strange and beautiful creature! It's a partially leucistic blue jay, absent the black (melanin) pigments that mark the face and neck of a typical jay. When I first saw the bird, it was consorting with several other jays at a feeder, and it stuck out like a sort thumb.

NOTE: I am referring to the animal as partially leucistic, even if that's being a bit general. One can get extremely bogged down in what seems to be largely unverifiable explanations for various conditions of pigment anomalies. For a good general discussion about anomalies in pigmentation, with a key to place birds into six general categories of color aberrations, CLICK HERE.

As a frame of reference for our odd jay, here is a typically plumaged blue jay. The black collar, eye line and dark saddle across the base of the bill are conspicuous plumage highlights of a blue jay.

Thanks to Julie Zickefoose (she authored THIS BOOK about blue jays) for aging this jay as a hatch-year bird (born last spring/summer). Whatever all the factors that caused its excessively snowy plumage, it is a beauty. The jay has been coming in to the feeders intermittently today, usually in the company of several other jays. I hope he sticks around. I'll certainly try and help by keeping the jay smorgasbord going.


Woody Meristem said...

Two great sightings and photographs of them. Makes you wonder how many other oddities are out there that are either never seen or never recognized.

Jim McCormac said...

Thanks Woody. Birders often debate that. I'd say for every rare creature that's detected, a great many more go overlooked or unrecognized for what they are.

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