Posted by: atowhee | October 27, 2021

IS SOMEBODY BLEACHING MY GOLDFINCHES?

If I used Facebook or Twitter or watched the right/wrong news channel (I don’t do any of those things, I watch the birds) I could have a half dozen good conspiracy theories about why new white-crowned goldfinches keep appearing. They’re illegal aliens, or just aliens from outer space. The finches have flown through contrails…or been zapped with ivermectin…or maybe drunk flouridated water or gotten some vaccine or eaten crumbs from some satanic pizza parlor…or they are rfeleases from secret whitening laboratory testing bleach processes.

Last week I blogged images of two different white crowns…today I found and got pic of a third. Here they are with the first one I found first, still the largest area of white. The n the secojd bird with round edge splotches, and third today’s with its white nape stripe.

So this is not conspiracy, nor is it one of those statistically almost impossible coincidences. All three have their leucism on the cranium. All three are here in late October indicating they are probably local, not migrating through. So I am surmising that somewhere in southeast Salem there is one, or more, adult American Goldfinch with an unusually high genetic proclivity to produce white-crowned offspring. Maybe one of these birds is the parent of the other two, three siblings, half-siblings or cousins?
They do not hang out together–only once I saw WC #1 and WC #2 on the ground a few feet apart, seemingly a random moment. Like most white this leucism is only skin deep, I’ve noticed no social or behavioral discrepancies vs. the rest of our dozens of goldfinches.

I need some mist-netting, bird banding and DNA sampling. This is so bizarre!~

Joan Hagar is a biologist with the USGS and has extensive bird-banding experience here in western Oregon. She had this comment after seeing this blog: “We caught a Western Wood-pewee with white on its crown many years ago at Pigeon Butte in Finley Refuge, but I haven’t seen it very often in the birds we catch. Interesting how the leucism seems to occur on the head when it shows up in birds.It would be interesting to know the ages of those goldfinches (i.e., if they are all hatch-year birds), which we might be able to tell by the molt pattern if we netted them. Will also be interesting to see how long they stick around…”


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