One last non-equine


In the course of a discussion on an online forum, I had a request that I post pictures of this leucistic turkey vulture.  Leucism is the term for animals that have reduced pigmentation.  Some leucistic animals are partially unpigmented, much like we see with pinto horses, while others have reduced pigment.  In horses (and many other domestic animals) those genes are referred to as dilutions.

Sadie here has the second type, where her coloring is a paler version of the ordinary black of a turkey vulture.  Here is another picture of her taken in the shade, where it is a little easier to see that the color is diluted from black.  It has a similar tone that many black diluted horses have.


Sadie lives nearby at the Carolina Raptor Center.  Up until just recently, the center was also home to a leucistic raptor of the piebald variety.  That was Honeysuckle, a white Red-Tailed Hawk.  I never was able to get a good photo of Honeysuckle before she was sent to the Comanche Nation Ethno-ornithological Initiative (SIA), but here is a link with a wonderful shot of her.

Honeysuckle was interesting because the all-white coloring seen in that linked photo was the result of a progressive loss of pigment.  When she arrived at the Raptor Center, her coloring was not especially unusual.  She did have a few lighter feathers, but with each molt she acquired more white feathers until she was entirely white.  She is now part of the ongoing research on leucism in raptors at SIA.

And for those that would like to see better shots of Sadie – all I had with me that day was my Android phone, which doesn’t take distance shots well – there are some good ones here and here.  (The last linked photo has a very clear shot of her unusual gray-blue eyes.)

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