Leucistic starling spotted in Lääne County

A leucistic starling at Haeska.
A leucistic starling at Haeska. Source: Marko Valker

Nature enthusiast Marko Valker spotted a partly white-feathered starling in Lääne County on Sunday and according to him, the bird has leucism - a partial loss of pigmentation.

"It was on a coastal meadow near the Haeska Manor, where the bird was feeding along with other starlings with conventional feathering," Valker described and added that meadows and grass lawns are regular bug-rich feeding grounds for starlings.

The spotted starling's head was covered in white feathers with the back of the bird also carrying white feathering. "Melanin gives birds' feathers black, grey or brown color. Some of leucisitic birds' feathers are conventionally colored and some are lighter than regular, or even white," Valker said.

He emphasized that leucism should not be confused with albinism, where birds or other animals lack any pigment whatsoever. While there are very few lighter-than-regular birds, Valker said they are not as rare as albino birds. "There are significantly more birds with color deviation in cities than in outside settlements," he noted.

The lighter feathering is more noticeable in the wild and the birds have fewer natural enemies in cities, the spotter explained.


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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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