Up Close & Personal … A Leucistic Chickadee

Check it out!, In my Garden, Nature, North America, Photography, Uncategorized, Up Close & Personal ...


The chestnut-backed chickadee is the type of chickadee we usually get in our area.
They always visit in small flocks and are quite “chatty” and animated.
Last September I noticed a different looking bird in the garden.
This mostly white bird  behaved like a chickadee.

I carefully got closer to the window with my camera.
I was able to take a few photos, but the light made focusing difficult.
And my dirty window didn’t help either. 😉

This strange little guy didn’t stick around for very long.
After the bird flew off I googled “white chickadee”.

That’s when I learned about leucistic birds.
A leucistic bird has reduced pigmentation in its feathers.
This can be partial or complete and features bilateral symmetry.
The eyes however are black in this genetic condition,
unlike albinos which have red eyes and legs.

Leucistic birds often don’t survive very long.
Their different appearance makes it difficult to learn all the
“regular chickadee behavior”,
like songs and calls and can be a hindrance in finding a mate.

After the brief encounter through my window, I was on alert.

The next day the chickadee came back and stayed a bit longer.
Still, it was very shy and difficult to photograph.

It bathed, it nibbled on sunflower and thistle seeds.
It was very exciting since I’d never seen a leucistic bird before.
Originally I had wondered if it was an albino bird.
Anyway, this little guy flew off not long after and hasn’t come back since.
What a special visit!!

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My passions in life are vegetarian cooking, gardening, photography, writing, good books, traveling and nature. Thanks for stopping by, Sabine

27 thoughts on “Up Close & Personal … A Leucistic Chickadee”

  1. I love the shot of the leucistic chickadee Sabine! Good for you!
    If you ever find yourself in the same situation, change your focusing pattern to a single dot in the centre.
    If you do not know how to do that read your manual. You’ll be shooting like a sniper with just one point.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Chickadees are one of my favorite birds – always so cute and perky. This one is exceptional with its leucistic characteristics. I recently did a post about a black bird with a white head and learned it was a Common Grackle that had leucism.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Sure, I will send the link below Sabine. I saw this black bird with a white head, but it was from the back and it’s not a great picture. I Googled around and didn’t think of leucism as I originally thought it was a Magpie, but the colors were reversed and Magpies aren’t around here. I sent the picture to a friend who owns a Wild Birds Unlimited store – he didn’t know so he sent the picture to one of the interpreters/naturalists at Lake Erie Metropark where I saw the bird. He confirmed what two fellow bloggers said – and apparently it is not unusual for Common Grackles to have leucism tendencies. Your Chickadee is darling – too bad you can’t keep it close to your yard to give it a longer lifespan. You have to scroll down about 3/4s of the way thru this post:

        Liked by 1 person

      • A friend in Sacramento just sent a picture of a leucistic turkey that’s been roaming our old neighborhood there. It had a lot of white, but more speckled overall. I thought you might find this interesting.

        Liked by 1 person

      • That is interesting – I wonder what is causing all this leucism Sabine? Is it a food source for them, climate change, weather temps especially?’

        Liked by 1 person

      • That’s too bad Sabine – hopefully it does not harm the birds at all. We have bird flu here and experts are cautioning about feeding the birds and cleaning the feeders. It is always something these days.

        Liked by 1 person

      • On Wild Birds Unlimited site they said we are allowed to feed the birds still, with no restrictions, just keep the feeders clean. They expect the issue to resolve itself in about a month – I don’t know how they came up with that date or why. But that is good.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. What a blessing to see this little bird, Sabine. I thought the photos were magnificent (would not have known that the windows were dirty!). I am so glad you shared these photos and your insights with us.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Gordon Hubbard says:

    Wonderful pictures. Great to see you back online and sharing your pictures again, always a treat.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Gordon Hubbard says:

    Sabine, Sorry to be off-topic, but I thought I would share this with you. We have been feeding birds at our home for over 5 years and this is the first time we have had a problem with rats. Two weeks ago, while watching evening birds feeding, we notice a rummaging around in the tossed out black oil sunflower seeds. It turned out to be a group of 5 rats of various sizes. Well, to shorten this notice up, I trapped and killed one very large rat. It was 8 inches long, not including its tail. I will tolerate most animals in my backyard, but rats and not on my list. I haven’t seen any more activity since the trapping. Hopefully the rest took the hint and are going to be staying away, OR ELSE!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh! 😬 Rats are not welcomed here either. I’ve never seen any around here or noticed any signs of any, but we do get the occasional mouse. I don’t care for those either. I know that rats are more common near creeks and rivers. A friend in Santa Rosa had to take down all her feeders a few years ago because rats suddenly showed up all over her neighborhood. And in Sacramento they would walk along the telephone wires! 😳 Creepy creatures! I hope that they now stay away so you can continue feeding birds. Happy Spring! 🙋‍♀️


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