Several weeks ago I was heading out the door fully believing that I was just going to keep an appointment, but on the way I found something quite extraordinary- a leucistic wild turkey! The turkey was not far from my house. Indeed, it was only about five miles away. I only had a brief glimpse of the bird, but when I saw it I knew full-well what it was and why it looked the way it did. I thought the incident was very neat, of course (who wouldn't?), but I didn't expect to see the bird again, or have someone I know see the bird. But it happened. My dad was out one morning and saw the turkey at the same place- standing in someone's driveway. But unlike me, my dad had a camera (albeit a phone camera) and snapped a decent photograph:
This leucistic wild turkey was found about 5 miles from my home.
Neat, right? It's certainly not something you'll come across every day. Now I'll explain what leucism is. While albinism prevents the production of melanin, leucism is a genetic mutation that doesn't allow pigments to be distributed properly on feathers. This can result in birds that are pied, miscolored or even entirely white (you can easily tell if an all-white animal is leucistic or albino by looking at the eyes and feet- they will be pink if it is albino, but normal colored if leucistic). As with this turkey, abnormal coloration is the result. You can read more about albinism, melanism and other unusual characteristic at Cornell Lab's website, Project Feeder Watch: http://feederwatch.org/learn/unusual-birds/