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House Finch with Leucism?


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Captured this pic a few days ago, near Chelsea, MI.  From the head down it appears to me to be a House (or possibly Purple) finch, but the light pink and white coloring on the head is obviously not typical.  Is this simply an example of leucism, or another species altogether?

Finch.jpg

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I’m actually pretty sure this is a Purple Finch with leucism. The back stripes are red, and whitish, pointing to the eastern Purple Finch. Also the breast is a deep reddish purple, not orange as a House Finch has. Giss is also PUFI for me. 

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5 minutes ago, Avery said:

I’m actually pretty sure this is a Purple Finch with leucism. The back stripes are red, and whitish, pointing to the eastern Purple Finch. Also the breast is a deep reddish purple, not orange as a House Finch has. Giss is also PUFI for me. 

I guess I can see that.

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I'm not knowledgeable people, but I'm having difficulty seeing this as a Purple. The flank streaking looks really well defined, something I've never seen with Purples, either personally or with a quick search on the Macaulay Library. The wing color/pattern leans towards HOFI, more of a grayish coloration instead of a predominant brown or purple pattern. From what we can see of the bill, the curved culmen favors HOFI. I think the chest color is within range for a bright male House Finch, here's a few kinda similar examples https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/390260381  https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/225930721 https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/390339161

The back is a little weird, but I think it's within range for House Finch. https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/312112261

Also, this bird obviously has pigment issues, so some of the colors might be a bit off. I like House Finch, but wait for more opinions.

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Structurally, this bird screams HOFI, to me anyway, as to the coloring does it look a bit better? Yes. But I don't think it is out of the range of possibilities for house. 

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4 hours ago, Birding Boy said:

The flank streaking looks really well defined, 

 

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@The Bird Nuts

 

Saw it out the window at the feeder and grabbed my camera, but once I got the door open it was down on the ground, in almost constant motion, and this was the only useable photo I got.    I was hoping it would return but haven't seen it since.

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I would say HOFI. Really broad flank streaks, as Birding Boy said, curved culmen like Seanbirds said, and I've seen House Finches that have deceptively purple-red breasts that have you thinking purple until you check the flanks. The pink wash on the back is confusing though. The color on the breast is hard to judge with the leucism. The white wingbars also point HOFI, as does the well-rounded head without much of a peak or crest. Just my random thoughts. The main thing that's tripping up is the pink wash on the back.

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I'm on team House for this one too, for all the reasons stated above, but this is an exceptionally colorful bird. Look at how much pink extends into the wings, with a bit of a wash even through the wingbars, and the faint wash down the flanks. I wonder if whatever mutation is involved with the leucism paradoxically brings more colour generally into the feathers?

Welcome to Whatbird @JimK, thanks for bringing us such an interesting bird!

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@PaulK

As novice-intermediate birders, it was quite a fun and interesting experience to sight such an apparently unusual bird, and I'm glad I was able to get a picture of it worth sharing.

My (newly acquired) understanding of leucism is that it only results in a reduction of pigmentation, but doesn't change/add coloration.  If that's correct, then the pinkish-purple on the wings, flanks, etc. was already present, which may lend more credence to a PUFI ID.

Although it does seem probable that this is a HOFI, with color characteristics that stray some distance into PUFI territory, I think this discussion raises at least one additional interesting question.  Could this possibly be a hybrid?   

Happy Thanksgiving!

Jim

 

 

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A quick google search makes it look like hybrids do exist but are very rare. This is way beyond my expertise, but I would think that when a bird is structurally clearly one over the other with the coloration a bit off, it's best to go with structure rather than colour. I don't think there's much that looks like a Purple Finch in this bird other than the pink wash onto the wing. But definitely defer to other opinions on this.

Here's another very similar bird: https://feederwatch.org/unusual-bird/distinctive-house-finch-or-possible-hybrid/

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