Tuesday, March 3, 2015


I look at a lot of birds every year, and I don’t see many that are as cool as this one, a leucistic Black Turnstone (Arenaria melanocephala). This striking bird is wintering at the end of Sandy Point, north of Bellingham, Washington, in a flock of its relatives, and I finally got around to checking it out in February. I found the flock feeding on rocks at the mouth of the marina there.

What a bird! From a distance it looked entirely white, but at close range elements of the pattern became visible, most of them very subdued. The more or less straight line across the breast identified it as a Black rather than a Ruddy Turnstone (Arenaria interpres), which has a bilobed pattern of black there. There was also a Ruddy with the flock.

By comparing the bird with a normal Black Turnstone, I could see how much the melanin pigment was reduced on this bird, yet it wasn’t entirely absent. The darkest areas of normal pigment were on the rump and tail, but tan areas all over the bird, most readily seen in flight, gave me a good hint of typical Black Turnstone pattern.

The bird is definitely leucistic, not albinistic, because it has normally pigmented eyes. Albinism is the complete absence of melanin pigment. Because that pigment is what gives brown eyes their color, when it is lacking in an albino, the blood vessels in the eyes give them a bright red color. Leucism is a reduction of all pigments, but not necessarily their absence.

The bird presumably grew most of its feathers in July and August, the time of fall molt in Black Turnstones, so they were about six months old in February and showing their age. In comparison with nearby normal birds, the primary feathers were distinctly more worn. The tertials, the long feathers that overlie the primaries, were very worn, much more than on the other birds.

The bright orange legs of this bird contrasted with those of normal Black Turnstones, in which they are brown to dull orange. Presumably in normal birds, melanin masks what would be bright orange otherwise. The legs of Ruddy Turnstones are bright orange, and one wonders whether they would remain exactly the same in a leucistic bird.

Its behavior appeared to be the same as that of the other birds, and they must have accepted it as a flock member. However, when the entire flock flew away, startled by a jogger coming down the beach, the white bird flew in the opposite direction with two of the black ones rather than with the flock.

Such birds are extremely rare, and I feel fortunate to have seen this one. One thing special about it is that it could never be mistaken for another turnstone, thus always recognizable. If we could recognize all birds individually, we would know a lot more about them!

The white turnstone’s presence is being monitored closely, so we may know when it has departed for the north, assuming some local falcon doesn’t pick it out of the flock. It is well known that birds of prey will home in on odd-looking birds, as they are easiest to follow in a twisting, turning flock.

If it does persist into spring, local birders will be watching closely for it late next summer, when Black Turnstones return here from their breeding grounds in the Yukon/Kuskokwim River delta. Let’s hope it makes it back.

Dennis Paulson


Emma whatson said...

Microsoft Corporation Windows 10 Mobile OS To Support 30 Lumia Models Read more at: http://tinyurl.com/pqy5z65

Ankit Sharma said...

Shaandaar Movie Wallpaper, Images, PICS, Photos
Shaandaar Movie Posters 2015
Shaandaar Hindi 2015 Full Movie Story Making & Budget Report
Shaandaar Movie Songs Free Download MP3, MP4
Shaandaar Movie 2015 Hot Uncut Scenes
Shaandaar Movie Songs mp3 audio mp4 3gp HD video Download
Shaandaar Movie Kabhi Kabhi Song MP3, Mp4
New Song Gulaabo guitar chords & tabs
Shaandaar Hindi movie wiki,story,star cast and release date

Aleksei Molodtcov said...

do eat jellyfish

what do jellyfish eat

how do jellyfish eat

Drag Racer V3 said...

I like your post so much

Games 2 Girls said...

Very helpful advice in this particular post! It’s the little changes that make the largest changes. Thanks for sharing!

Thu Lê said...

I was very impressed by this post, this site has always been pleasant news. Thank you very much for such an interesting post. Keep working, great job! In my free time, I like play game: mutilateadoll2game.com. What about you?

ngocanhng said...

I like your all post. You have done really good work. Thank you for the information you provide, it helped me a lot. I hope to have many more entries or so from you.
Very interesting blog.

Ngọc Bảo said...

I like your post. It really useful with me. Thanks for sharing these useful information!

Shazi shiz said...

Thanks so much for this great article; this is the kind of thing that keeps me going through the day. Ive been looking around for your article after I heard about them from a friend and was thrilled when I was able to find it after searching for some time. Being a avid blogger, Im happy to see others taking initiative and contributing to the community. I just wanted to comment to show my appreciation for your post as its very encouraging, and many writers do not get the credit they deserve. I am sure Ill be back and will send some of my friends. check this

Riswan Alfarid said...

Tanaman Obat Jantung Bengkak Jantung bengkak atau kardiomegali merupakan suatu kondisi pembesaran ukuran jantung akibat gangguan tertentu yang menyebabkan jantung bekerja lebih berat dibandingkan normal.

Herbal newsco said...

I absolutely love public speaking. It used to scare me, but back in middle school I was in a poetry club. We read our work to the school at assemblies and events, so I got used to it after a while. Once I got over being afraid it was a lot of fun to do. Tanaman Obat Telinga Berdengung

Now I wish I had a chance to speak in public more often, actually.

Tanaman Obat Jantung Bengkak said...

I am impressed by the quality of information on this website. There are a lot of good resources here. I am sure I will visit this blog again soon. Tanaman Obat Jantung Bengkak

Riswan Alfarid said...

Tanaman Obat Telinga Berdengung
Tanaman Obat Telinga Berdengung
Obat Tradisional Telinga Berdengung
Obat Herbal Telinga Berdengung
Obat Telinga Berdengung

Herbal newsco said...

Cara Mengatasi Telinga Bedengung
Cara Mengatasi Telinga Bedengung
Cara Mengatasi Telinga Bedengung