Aberrant Chestnut-backed Chickadees in SCZ
- Hi Calbirders,
So far this fall there have been an unusual 13 reports of leucistic or
partially albinistic Chestnut-backed Chickadees from Santa Cruz County.
Reports spanned Sept. 10 to Nov 9 from widely scattered localities as much as
20 miles apart. The locations and plumage details suggest that all the
reports are of different individuals, and not of siblings.
Details varied from bird to bird. 8 of 13 had pale gray crowns and throats.
All had pale backs, either white or varying shades of pale chestnut. 11 of 13
had wings that were partly or mostly white (white coverts and scapulars, but
flight feathers often white only on inner web and at base). 8 of 13 had
mostly white tails. Several were very pale on the underparts, lacking any
grayish or dusky wash on the flanks.
This spate of aberrant chickadees is unusual for SCZ. In my 16 years of
experience as county record keeper, I recall only a few such prior reports,
but certainly other sightings may have gone unreported. I had personally
never seen one before, but have found 3 of them this fall.
I would appreciate hearing if other folks are seeing leucistic or albinistic
Chestnut-backed Chickadees this fall. I have no idea why so many have been
found in SCZ and it would be interesting to know if it is a more widely
David Suddjian, Capitola
Santa Cruz Bird Club
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