Leucistic Blue Jay photo by Michael Topp by Carolyn A. Marsh

Have You Heard of Albino Birds?

By Carolyn A. Marsh
     There is always something to observe in wildlife, particularly with birds, which is very soothing and captivating. There was the partially leucistic American Robin that nested in different trees in North Hammond many years ago. Then the rare leucistic Blue Jay was showing at Jeanie Kristec’s Whiting yard feeders in May 2012. Jeanie invited me to her yard near Whiting Park on May 4 to see it. I knew how rare the bird was and with Jeanie’s permission contacted others. Another birder, Michael Topp, took the above pictures. The bird disappeared shortly thereafter.

     According to Christopher Leahy, The Birdwatcher’s Companion, an Encyclopedic Handbook of North American Birdlife: leusism is an abnormal paleness in the plumage of a bird resulting from the “dilution” of normal pigmentation. It is also called “imperfect albinism”. Albinism is recorded in certain groups of birds more often than in others-notably ducks, geese, and swans, quail and pheasants, crows, thrushes, swallows, and North American blackbirds.
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     The reason why so many rare birds show up in Hammond and Whiting is because of bi-state Wolf Lake, Lake Michigan, and the Hammond Bird Sanctuary. Sitting on the Lake Michigan with Wolf Lake Nearby, the Hammond Bird Sanctuary, surrounded by water and suburbs, the sanctuary is the only green patch for in every direction, which makes it a prime place for birds to visit.
     In the Winter – Spring other regular common winter birds at the feeders are Mourning Doves, Downy Woodpeckers, Dark-eyed Juncos, and White – throated Sparrows, American Tree Sparrows, Fox Sparrows, Northern Cardinals, House Finches, and American Goldfinches. Often a Cooper’s Hawk or Red-tailed Hawk will stalk the station and swoop down to try to pick off a bird for a meal. That is when the small birds take flight until the hawk leaves.
   In the Spring during the Big May Bird Count, one will find the colorful male Rose-breasted Grosbeak,  brilliant red male Scarlet Tanager, the Kirkland Warbler, Worm-eating Warbler as well as songbirds from South America, Central America and Mexico to pass through here is the month of May.
     From mid-August through October there are several rare and unusual birds stop by for a visit on the migratory trips.Birds such as the Leucistic Blue Jay, Nelson Sparrow, LeConte Sparrow, Bald Eagle, snowy owl, white breasted nuthatch bird, all kinds of warblers, and many more have been found. The sanctuary itself, is not a large area with not alot of walking, and parking is nearby at the Marina and also Whiting Lakefront Park.

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birds at gibson woods
Read the Rest of Our Birding Articles, CLICK HERE!

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Northwest Indiana Birding Festival
Have Your Heard of Albino Birds?
Birding at Gibson Woods
Snowy Owl Saved at Whiting Parks
Bald Eagle Returns to the Calumet Region
White Breasted Nuthatch Spotted
Snowy Owl Spotted
Uncommon Brant Goose Visits Hammond



Sue Baxter