Sunday, May 17, 2009

Amelanistic American Avocet

Yesterday while driving back from the Matador Ranch in southern Phillips County, I observed this bird foraging in a small pond along the road. It was the only American Avocet at this particular pond which it shared with a number of Wilson's Phalaropes.

As you can see the normally black areas on on an American Avocet are white (in good light there was just a hint of beige where it would normally be black). Otherwise it looks like a "normal" avocet.


John said...

Now that's an interesting bird!

Beverly said...

Okay, ‘partially albino’ drives me nuts; I use leucistic…but I’ve never heard ‘amelanistic’. I’ll defer to the scientist in a heartbeat…but could you tell me what is the difference? I’ve never heard ‘amelanistic’. Wassat?


John Carlson said...

Hey Beverly,
Amelanistic means that the bird has not produced melanin (dark pigments) and is a more proper descriptive term than the others you mentioned. Jeff Davis wrote an article in the Sept/Oct Birding magazine that does a good job of explaining the rational for a better way of describing plumage aberrations and I agreed with him and have been trying to keep the terms I use consistent with the ones that he proposed. You will notice that the orange color in the avocet, which is not determined my malanin pigments, was not different in this bird. Hope that helps. J