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I'm a woman entering "the third chapter" and fascinated by the journey.

Friday, March 1, 2013

A rare bird

A thirty-five-degree day with spitting snow frequently brings a lot of action at the feeders, and today was no exception. It's always good to see the usual suspects, and today brought titmice, a host of house finches, and a goldfinch showing just the faintest hint of breeding plumage. (Can you say "spring"?) Then: something unusual.

This cardinal lacks both the bright red of the usual male and the rich brown of most females. The red crest standing out against the buff and almost-cream of the body made me wonder if this bird is a young male who's not managed to get the food that would allow for the development of true red, but a little research has me thinking that this is a semi-leucistic female.

today's bird

a juvenile from spring 2011

Leucism is the absence of normal pigment in birds that are not true albinos, a phenomenon I first learned of on Jim MacCormac's excellent blog, Ohio Birds and Biodiversity. People in central Ohio have been seeing cardinals that are purely pink and cream, much paler than today's visitor. The ever-helpful Sibley Guides revealed what we probably have: a dilute female cardinal. Whatever she is, she's a beauty.

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