July 24, 2012

Mutant birds and other Feathered Freaks

Taking a break from whatever else I want to drone on about to drone on about weird birds. Lost Lagoon seems to be a magnet for oddness these days.  The Canada Goose below has a rare condition. It's not sick and the photo has not been photoshopped to make it look pale. What it has is a genetic abnormality called Leucism, or leukism.  It is a mutation that prevents pigment from being properly deposited on their feathers. It is not albinism as it is only the feathers that is affected. The skin, legs and eyes are normal.
This Tree Swallow (I think) was flying about dragging some kind of object. It took several passes and photos before we could identify it.  It's a wide white feather. It looks to big to have once been part of such a little bird. It is also not carrying it about to use as nesting material. It looked like it was stuck to its tail feathers. Maybe a spoiler?
This is a mallard. Really! It is! I first spotted the poor boy in May and it is still hanging around but I haven't been to Lost Lagoon in awhile to check on its progress. The diagnosis is that it has mites which caused it to itch and pull out what feathers it didn't lose to the mites. This is an example of what a bad case of mites can do. Interestingly, the other birds accept it despite its sickly appearance. Bird mites are special to birds even to species to humans can't get them.

1 comment:

  1. I live at Clear Lake in California, and saw a Tree Swallow in June, 2013 with the exact same white feather growing from his tail feathers. At first I thought it was somehow caught on the bird, but after close inspection with binoculars while he was perched, I determined it was a real feather. Really stands out when he flies around!