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24 January 2007

Leucistic or partial albino?

In the animal kingdom, the number one rule of survival might well be: don't stand out. This female Northern Cardinal has been defying that rule and beating the odds. We're amazed she hasn't become some hawk's supper.

Apparently, there is some disagreement as to which term properly describes this abnormal colour phenomenon. Some say she's leucistic, some a partial albino. Still others insist the terms are interchangeable. Either way, we're honoured to have her staying with us and hope she lives a long, uneventful life.

I have yet to get a decent picture of her. These were all taken through my office window in very poor light.

Her mate has been much more obliging. Isn't he handsome? It's no wonder she's so taken with him.

Cardinals are nonmigratory, so we're hoping this couple decides to raise their young'uns here. The female builds the nest and incubates 3 or 4 eggs, which take only about 2 weeks to hatch. The male tends the brood while the female starts another. They may raise as many as 4 broods in one season.

We came across another partial albino bird, a Boat-tailed Grackle, a few years ago at St. Marks Wildlife Refuge. He beat the odds, as well, and has been seen there over a period of 4-5 years. My pictures of this one are on my old computer. Doug Wassmer, a member of the Florida Birds list posted a nice shot here.


Hurricane Teen said...

Nice! I've never seen that before. We used to have lots of cardinals here before they started ripping out all the woods. It's really cool to see the same pair of cardinals living in your backyard for months on end. I love how they mate for life!

SophieMae said...

HT, maybe your new place will have lots of cardinals. They're quite abundant here, but I never tire of them. Some days, there are a dozen or so at a time visiting our feeder. Which reminds me, I need to get more seed. Between the cardinals and the sparrows, it goes pretty fast.

Anonymous said...

We always have at least one (usually more) nesting pair. It's fun to see the fledglings come to the feeder - they're big enough to fly on their own, but not quite independent enough to feed themselves. They stay near the feeder squealing their fool heads off 'til Mom or Dad puts a seed in their gob.

SophieMae said...

Welcome to my crummy place, TF! 8-]

Ever notice how the babies are bigger than the parents? I sometimes wonder why we don't have 8' birds walking around by now. 8-}

Floridacracker said...

That is one neat cardinal! I've never seen one like that. Cardinals bite really hard. I rescued one out of a chicken pen once and he crunched my finger good.

TropicRedbird said...

floridacracker ==> OUCH!
Sophiemae .. woman after my heart! LOVE that redbird woman!! Matey is vibrant as always.

SophieMae said...

FC, they don't call them grosbeaks (family) for nothing. Good on ya for rescuing the poor thing, anyhow. 8-]

TIP, I knew you'd love them! 8-] I haven't seen the female since I took those pics. Hope she just went a-visitin' the neighbours.