Friday, 26 August 2016

Melanism

There has been a strange-looking pigeon to be found flying around our garden lately. While it is undoubtedly a Woodpigeon, it doesn't look quite like the others.
It would seem that this bird has a genetic mutation known as melanism, where there is an excess of melanin produced making the feathers (and probably the skin if you were to be able to see it) much darker than normal.
The opposite of melanism is leucism, where an animal loses much of its colour and appears whiter than normal - not to be confused with albinism which is completely different. Leucistic animals can have problems with camouflage as they tend to 'stick out like a sore thumb' and as a result are often predated rather rapidly. Melanistic animals by contrast, are often at an advantage as their darker appearance can actually help with camouflage. Certainly, this individual seems to be in no immediate danger.
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