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What is this light colored hummingbird?

By Gary Bogue
Tuesday, July 10th, 2012 at 6:28 am in hummingbirds, Opossums, Raccoons.

A leucistic Anna’s hummingbird (left) eats at a feeder next to a normal-colored Anna’s  (right). Photo by Constance Tweedie, Crockett, CA.
1hummer lite constance tweedie crockett

Gary:
I have observed a new hummer at my very popular feeder here in Crockett.  I’m  on the last street looking toward Port Costa just above the area known as Elk Horn Canyon. Its unusual coloring sent me to my Audubon book and  the Internet in search of a name, but, alas, I have not been able to identify it.  It has very light coloring — an almost white underbelly and light gray wings with a rectangle of light cream on the base of its wings. There are no iridescent markings around its neck. It has integrated into the hummingbird population without incident — other that the usual star wars that go on around the feeder. I hope that you can figure what type of hummer it is.
Constance Tweedie, Crockett, California

Constance:
Looks like this hummingbird (probably an Anna’s) has an abnormal amount of melanin in its feathers to give it color. This condition is called “leucism.” According to a piece I read on the Internet from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, there appears to be several types of leucism.  This condition differs from albinism, which is a pure white bird with pink eyes and no melanin.

The San Francisco Bay Area also has both albino and leucistic raccoons and opossums.

Here’s more information from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology article to help enlighten you on this subject: http://www.birds.cornell.edu/pfw/AboutBirdsandFeeding/Albinism_Leucism.htm

Fascinating, don’t you think? Just when you think you have birds and their markings figured out, something like this comes along to confuse you. That’s why bird watching is so much fun. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology, by the way, is the best source I know for information on bird feeding, the birds in your backyard, and anything else I can think of on native songbirds.

*** Here’s more on Cornell (and birds!):

http://www.birds.cornell.edu/Page.aspx?pid=1478

http://www.allaboutbirds.org/Page.aspx?pid=1189

Have fun! /Gary

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3 Responses to “What is this light colored hummingbird?”

  1. Christina Says:

    I’m sure the Cornell Lab of Ornithology would love to have a picture of your hummer!

  2. Joanne Smith Says:

    I agree with what Christina said. You can put the photo on the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s facebook page and bird lovers all over the world can enjoy it.

  3. Karyn Says:

    Nora Ephron’s quote:

    Humming birds,and I love to watch them because they’re so busy getting the most of life.

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