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Leucistic Cardinal. Male or Female ?

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Looks good for a non-eumelanic female Northern Cardinal. Leucism would result in more clear-cut patches of white, not an overall faded color. Note also how this individual lacks the black mask and pale wings/tail, which is characteristic for cardinals that lack the black/gray pigment eumelanin. It would be unlikely that a male would have such a buffy color.

Nice find! See more here: https://www.sibleyguides.com/2011/08/abnormal-coloration-in-birds-melanin-reduction/

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Posted (edited)
15 minutes ago, akandula said:

non-eumelanic

I didn't know they celebrated Mass.  Of course, they -are- Cardinals.

Edited by Charlie Spencer

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Looks good for a non-eumelanic female Northern Cardinal. Leucism would result in more clear-cut patches of white, not an overall faded color. Note also how this individual lacks the black mask and pale wings/tail, which is characteristic for cardinals that lack the black/gray pigment eumelanin. It would be unlikely that a male would have such a buffy color.

Nice find! See more here: https://www.sibleyguides.com/2011/08/abnormal-coloration-in-birds-melanin-reduction/

agreed

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Leucism is an umbrella term for a wide variety of genetic pigment-production problems (don't you just love alliteration?!), though that umbrella does NOT shelter albinism.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leucism

The rationale for the bird being a female, as presented above, is solid, but possibly incomplete. I will expand on it, here.

First-cycle Northern Cardinals conduct an extensive preformative molt that is usually initiated 2-3 weeks after fledging. Depending upon a number of factors, included latitude and when in the breeding season such birds were produced, the molt varies from replacing all body feathers and, perhaps, a few flight feathers, to a complete replacement of juvenile plumage.

The important aspects of this leucistic bird is that the large wing and tail feathers are reddish as opposed to the body plumage. That suggests a female, but it may not be definitively a female. If it were a first cycle male produced either at relatively high latitude and/or late in the season, it may have replaced only the body plumage in the preformative molt. Then, if this bird's wing and tail plumage were the brighter red typical of the species and were those wing and tail feathers juvenile feathers (rather than formative feathers), then I think that the sex would be not at all certain.

However, since the bird's tail feathers are reddish -- even though pinker than is typical, rather than brown, the bird did replace its previous tail feathers in the molt last fall. Since it did, apparently, replace flight feathers last fall, we cannot age the thing anymore specifically than what the North American banding program calls AHY = After [calendar] Hatching Year. Of course, in March in Tennessee, there are no cardinals that are NOT AHYs, as breeding has not yet commenced this year.

So, it's almost certainly a female, but goofy stuff sometimes happens.

 

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Massaudubon.org/learn/nature-wildlife/birds/color-abnormaladies-in-birds

Since this topic comes up a lot. A good, short article.  In pigeons we call it dilution. 

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