Photo Study Of A Leucistic Red-tailed Hawk And Other Raptors In Montgomery and Bucks County, PA, February 1st, 2013

           August Mirabella and I took a drive for a couple of hours through Montgomery and Bucks Counties today. We were rewarded with
           ten different Red-tailed Hawks. But the most interesting sight was a leucistic, mostly white, adult Red-tailed Hawk with dark eyes,
           yellow beak and legs, and a few normally colored primary and tail feathers. Here are some photos of this neat bird.

Leucistic Red-tailed Hawk In Montgomery County

Leucistic Red-tailed Hawk Taking Off

 Leucistic Red-tailed Hawk Lifting Up

And for comparative purposes, here is a photo of another leucistic Red-tailed Hawk taken at Cape May State Park, November 3rd, 2010

A Tannish Colored Leucistic Red-tailed Hawk At Cape May State Park In 2010

And A Normally Hued Juvenile Red-tailed Hawk At Nockamixon State Park Today


     In any event, leucism is unusual in birds but not rare. Interestingly, albinism only applies to a total absence of melanin. Since
      some colors come from other pigments, such as carotenoids, it is possible for a bird to be albinistic and still have color. Leucism,
      on the other hand, applies to all pigments. It is also possible for a bird to be completely white and still have melanin in the body.
      In this case, the bird would be considered leucistic and would have dark eyes because the mutation only applies to depositing
      melanin in the feathers. Albinistic birds have pink eyes because without melanin in the body, the only color in the eyes comes
      from the blood vessels behind the eyes. And since leucism is a deposition problem,  it makes sense that birds with white patches
      would be leucistic. Consequently leucism comes in two main varieties, paleness, an equal reduction of melanin in all feathers;
      and pied, an absence of melanin in some feathers creating white patches.                                                                                                      
(Cornell BNA; Wikipedia; Sibley Guide To Birds)

The Five Photos Below Are Of Four More Neat Raptors Seen Today:
Black Vulture Roosts Near Peace Valley Park Nature Center

 Male Sharp-shinned Hawk In The Peace Valley Park Nature Center Bird Blind

Male Sharp-shinned Hawk In The Peace Valley Park Nature Center Bird Blind
A Northern Saw-whet Owl
And A Beautiful, Banded, Male Kestrel


          Howard B. Eskin 2013     Please email your comments to      Please click here to go back to Bird Webpage Index