Rare leucistic African Black Oystercatcher

Dean Knox of East London sent through photos of a pale-grey (leucistic) African Black Oystercatcher. This rare record was captured at Rainbow Valley, east of East London. It was photographed on the 9th April 2013. There have been no other reported sightings of the bird subsequent to this record.

Leucism is defined as a condition charaterised by reduced pigmentation in animals caused by a recessive allele. Unlike albinism, it is caused by a reduction in all types of skin pigment, not just melanin.

IMG-20130409-00803 IMG-20130409-00804

Museum ornithologist Phil Whittington comments that while leucism is a rare event there are several documented instances of this in African Black Oystercatchers resulting in an overall battle-ship grey colour. One such bird was ringed at Cape Recife as a chick (presumably before it was known to be a leucistic bird) and was later found breeding in the Alexandria dunefields. Odd birds such as this are sometimes chased by normal coloured individuals but the bird in Alexandria dunefields was very successful and even attracted two mates, both of which laid eggs within a few metres of each other!

About East London Museum Science

Conservation Biologist East London Museum South Africa
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