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Leucism and Leucistic Birds & Animals & other Colour Variations

01/04/2008 16:52:40 Leucism (or Leukism)
Leucism is a very unusual condition whereby the pigmentation cells in an animal or bird fail to develop properly. This can result in unusual white patches appearing on the animal, or, more rarely, completely white creatures.

Albinism is a different condition. The easiest way to tell the difference between the two is that in albinism the eyes are usually pink or red, and albinism affects the entire animal, not just patches.

This occasionaly causes very excited biologists to think they have discovered a new species, when in fact leucism is the cause of the unusual markings they have seen.

Birds can show this condition in one of two ways: either there is an excess of yellow in the plumage or the yellow replaces another colour (in this instance the red). The condition has been reported in a number of species, including other species of woodpecker (in North America), and in many instances the colour replaced is red.
White giraffe seen in Botswana.

Send us your photos of any leucistic, albino, melanistic, xanthocristic or erythrisctic animals or birds and we will add them to  gallery.

Some leucistic birds

leucistic, white and albino whales and dolphins

white humpback whale calf 

White Humpback whale calf, just a few weeks old,
 spotted off Queensland.

White whale Humpback calf off Queensland 

White killer whale observed off Russia - Images and video

In the North Pacific, east of the Kamchatka Peninsula near the Commander Islands, the first-ever adult all-white, probably albino, orca bull has been observed.

Read the full story » 

Albino bat

Doug Mackenzie Dodds managed to snap this remarkable photo of an albino bat in his garden

Albino bat photo 

recent sightings of leucistic animals in Africa


We have received the following photos from Beth Parker, who lives on the  New Forest.

Albino fallow deer in the New Forest

Albino fallow deer near Dunkeld 

 We have also had photos of an Albino deer in Hertfordshire 

unusual squirrels 

It is thought that there is a family of albino squirrels in Guisborough Forest in Yorkshire

Click Albino squirrels in Yorkshire for more


Wildlife Extra is not sure if this bird is an albino, or leucistic (or even a crow?). Albino creatures would normally have pink (or red) eyes, but this bird doesn't. 

White crow in Satna, India

unusual sightings

There are many absolutely fantastic photographs of leaping dolphins, hunting lions and flocks of flamingos, but this section is dedicated to those photographs that show something just a little bit different.
See more unusual wildlife sightings 

Melanistic animals

This melanistic, black adder was seen in north-east Kent.

More details 



More leucistic birds

Greater spotted woodpecker with Yellow vents

This lovely image was taken in Cheshire, UK, by Sheila Blamire. The woodpecker has unusual colouring and is probably displaying Xanthochroism

Click Great spotted woodpecker with unusual colouring in Cheshire  for more

Albino Killer whale?

White OrcaVery unusual white orca photographed off Alaska.


Migaloo, the albino Humpback whale

Not seen for 2 years, Migaloo - bigger than a truck and iridescent white - made his annual migration north past Cairns unnoticed.

First seen in 1991, Migaloo is thought to be in his mid 20's.

Read the full story »

Albino otter seen in Scotland

A very unusual albintter has been seen, and photographed, in the north of Scotland.

Click here to see and read more about the albino otter

Leucistic laysan albatross chick - video

About 70 percent of the world's population of Laysan Albatrosses nests on Midway. The IUCN-World Conservation Union lists the species as globally vulnerable to extinction.
Leucistic Laysan albatross - Photo and video

More leucictic birds and animals

White red kite at gigrin farm

This unusual white Red kite is sometimes seen at the Gigrin Farm Red kite feeding station. 

Click The white kite of Gigrin Farm

Second 'white kite' spotted at Gigrin Farm 

Leucistic woodpecker in Massachusetts

The Hairy woodpecker is widespread and common in North America.

Leucistic Hairy woodpecker in Massachusetts 

leucistic cory's shearwater

Second record for the species.

Click Leucistic Cory's shearwater chick on the Madeira Archipelago for more

 White giraffe in the Kruger

Another giraffe with very light colouration has been reported to us, this time from the Kruger in South Africa.

White giraffe seen in the Kruger Park 

The 'Blonde' hedgehogs of Alderney

The island of Alderney has an exceptionally high incidence of leucistic hedgehogs, with some 25% of the population being white!

Click Alderney's 'blonde' hedgehogs for more 

White fallow deer in the forest of dean

This white fallow buck was seen repeatedly in the Forest of Dean until recently, but hasn't been seen for a while (Moved on or shot perhaps?).

See more pictures 

White elk in utah

These te elk were seen in Utah, USA. Are they leucistic, or albino?

White elk in Utah - Leucistic or albino?

White turkey in Texas

This turkey was seen in Texas. Is it a leucistic Rio-Grande turkey, or an escaped domestic White Holland?

White turkey in Texas

leucistic bald eagle in oregon

This Bald eagle with unusual colouring was seen and photographed in southern Oregon. 

Leucistic Bald eagle from Oregon

Leucistic Oystercatcher in Auckland

A leucistic variable oystercatcher seen in Auckland.

See more about the white oystercatcher 

Leucistic white tail deer

Leucistic white tailed deer, seen in Maryland, USA.

Click Leucistic white-tailed deer in Maryland, USA to read more

Leucistic opossums

More leucistic opossum from the USA.

Albino fallow deer in Lincolnshire

An albino fallow deer has been photographed in Lincolnshire.

Click Albino fallow deer spotted in Lincolnshire for more.

leucistic Chamois in Spain

This Chamois, with unusual colouring, has been seen in Northern Spain.

Click Leucistic chamois photographed in Spain for more.

Leucistic baboons of the Luangwa Valley.

world/Africa/leucistic_baboon_fam_tolan Another reader, Steve Tolan, of the Chipembele Wildlife Education Centre has also seen some leucistic baboons inthe Luangwa Valley. There does seem to be a "leucistic hotspot" in the Luangwa, as we have had several reports of different animals from the beautiful part of the world.

Read more »

 Leucistic Elephant seals

whales/Marine/elephant_seal_leucistic_spruanceDespite the recent claim by the BBC that a white elephant seal seen in 2008 on Marion Island was the first confirmed sighting of a leucistic elephant seal, one of our readers, Nancy Spruance, has sent us a photo of a leucistic Elephant seal that she saw on Prion Island, off the northeast coast of South Georgia, way back in November 2003.

Read more »

Albino Fallow deer spotted in Sussex

Volunteer rescuers had a surprise when they went to rescue a deer that was caught in a rope swing in some Sussex woods. To their amazement the deer, a male fallow deer, was completely white and is thought to be a very rare albino.

Read the full story »

Leucistic crow in the lake district

This very unusual leucistic crow was spotted in a garden in Kendall. All white but with black beak, eyes and legs, it is a very striking bird.

Read More

'Golden' lion of South Luangwa

July 2008. Egil Droge has sent us some images of a lion cub with very unusual colouring in the South Luangwa.

Click here to see more images.

Golden lion seen again in 2009, more images here.

Leucistic Robin on London's Hampstead Heath

This leucistic robin was seen for the first time a few days before Christmas. The almost all-white bird has a patch of red and some brown too but is mostly snowy white.


leucustic zebra - Tanzania

This photo was sent in by one of our readers; the zebra was seen in Tanzania.

See a larger image

White baboon, impala & Meve's starling

One of our readers works in the Luangwa valley, and he has sent us images of a baboon, an impala and a starling with unusual colouration.

See the images

Leucistic Ibis, Western scrub jay, western kingbird & American robin

Leucistic birds by Paul Higgins."The following images were all taken by wildlife photographer Paul Higgins.

Click Leucistic Ibis, American robin, Western kingbird and Western scrub jay to see the images.

Twin leucistic moorhens in north west UK

.The same pond that provided a leucistic moorhen in 2007 has now provided 2 leucistic chicks in 2008, presumably from the same parents.


More leucistic bird specimens

leucistic crow

Leucistic crow - Keith Marshall.

Leucistic crow - Keith Marshall.

Wildlife Extra thinks this is a leucistic crow, but it seems to be an unusual manifestation.

Click leucistic crow for more details. 

 white impala

White 'leucistic' impala seen in South AfricaWhite 'leucistic' impala seen in South Africa.

Details and more images.

albino tadpoles

Albino tadpolesVery unusual batches of albino tadpoles found in welsh pond

More details.

albino ratfish

A ghostly, mutant ratfish caught off Washington state.

Read more.

'Snowball' the white baboon

This white baboon, probably a leucistic animal, is currently living in South Africa.

More details and photos.

Leucistic Deer

Photographed in early 2008, this leucistic Red deer was seen in the west of Scotland. We have also heard reports of a leucistic deer in the East Midlands.

Read more.

Leucistic jackdaws

Leucistic Jackdaw seen near Knutsford in Cheshire. © Sheila Blamire.April 2008. We recived two reports with photos of leucistc jackdaws in different parts of the UK.

Images and details.

Leucistic Moorhens

Leucistic moorhen. © Lynn Mitchell.In 2007 we received reports and photos of no less than four leucistic moorhens in the UK.

Details and photos.

Leucistic squirrel

Leucistic squirrel, photographed in Cheshire. © Sheila Blamire.

One of our readers sent us a few images of this white squirrel from the North West.

Photos and details.

Leucistic Mistle Thrush

Leuctistic Mistle thrush. Courtesy of Steve Avery.

This leucistic thrush was seen and photographed in Worcestershire.

More details.

Leucistic buzzard

This white buzzard was seen in Austria early in 2008.

More details

Woodpecker showing signs of 'xanthochroism.'

Greater spotted woodpecker with orange rump. © Ray Atkin.A new one on me, but this diagnosis was sent to us by the BTO. This woodpecker was seen on birdfeeders in Yorkshire in 2007.

More details and photos.


Erythristic badger. © Steve Williams.

Interestingly in 2006 we were sent photos of an Erythristic badger. Erythrism is apparently a genetic defect that causes plumage/fur to become much more ginger/red than is usual.

More details

Leucistic Fallow deer

This fallow deer was seen in Scotland by reader Mark Roach.

Click for larger image.


Albino dolphin off the USA

Albino dolphinThis extremely rare and beautiful ‘pink dolphin' was first spotted in Louisiana.

Read more


White Bearded tit in Lancashire

Bearded tit, copyright John Wright.This unusual bird has been seen at the RSPB's Leighton Moss reserve.

Read more.

  Leucistic Great tits.

Leucistic great tit

 Leucistic egyptian goose in gloucestershire

This unusual bird has been seen at WWT Slimbridge.

Read more.

Read the comments about this article and leave your own comment

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Posted by: kdrcyber | 14 Nov 2015 01:52:03

Leucism, or leukism, is an abnormal plumage condition caused by a genetic mutation that prevents pigment, particularly melanin, from being properly deposited on a bird’s feathers.

Posted by: Mike | 05 Nov 2015 23:37:37


How do I send you a photo of a Leucistic Oystercatcher?

Posted by: Chris Merlin | 04 Sep 2015 18:01:27

I have a photo of a nuthatch that has Leukism and would like to post it, how do I do this..

Posted by: Cathy McClelland | 28 Jul 2015 17:40:38

upload photo?

Please tell me how do i give you a photo of a albino jackal?

Posted by: attak | 02 Jun 2013 10:09:20

Leucistic Carrion Crow - No Black at all!

I took this photo of a leucistic Carrion Crow last year in Meadowhall, near Sheffield when on holiday.

Posted by: Carol Monger | 20 Jan 2012 14:42:48

White possum with black ears

Posted by: John Cavassa | 06 Nov 2011 14:15:52

send in a photo?

Can any one let me know how to uplod a photo?



Posted by: Sue North | 05 Aug 2011 10:11:35

Leucistic buffalo calves

I am a part-owner of a private nature reserve near Hoedspruit in South Africa. The reserve contains the Big 5 and for the first time in nearly 20 years our buffalo herd has produced not one but two whie buffalo calves. They are not albinos but leucistic calves.

This is close to the loation of the White lions of Timbavati and no, not the work of a wandering white lion!!

Happy to load photographs but how. I don't see a facility on this link.
Jim (

Posted by: Jim Thomson | 06 May 2011 16:01:40

Enter photos

how can i enter a photo of a leucistic warbler i took this weekend?

Posted by: loweryjes | 03 May 2011 22:27:01

Beauty in Nature

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Posted by: Lance Grimes | 07 Mar 2011 17:05:40

Leucisitic Dunnock

I have captured a Leucistic Dunnock
How do I upload it for you and others to see?please

Posted by: Beryl | 27 Nov 2010 20:36:37

leucistic mallard

Posted by: chuckhastings | 09 Nov 2010 01:20:02

leucistic mallard

<a href= 30394904@N08/5159151751/"'>" title="Unknown Duck by charlie.hastings, on Flickr"><img src=" width="469" height="500" alt="Unknown Duck" /></a>

Posted by: chuckhastings | 09 Nov 2010 01:17:43

leucistic mallard

How do I post an image of this bird?

Posted by: chuckhastings | 09 Nov 2010 01:16:14

Black & white bird!

I have seen a black & white Blackbird here in Hampshire 3 or 4 times this year. Every time I was waiting at traffic lights so no pics possible; first time I assumed it was a small Magpie from the brief glimpse. The second time it landed in that typical way of a Blackbird with the tail going up nearly vertical before going to the normal position. Course now Blackbirds are noticeable by their absence!

Posted by: Vic | 27 Oct 2010 22:44:59

Leucistic bat in Berkshire

We have a white bat visiting us in Berkshire.
We first spotted it last year and again this year its back.
Photos on my flickr site:

I hope the URL link below also works.
[url]WHITE BAT[/url] by [url]THE BLACK RABBIT[/url], on Flickr

Posted by: TBR | 11 Sep 2010 08:39:01

leucistic hairy woodpecker photo

We have a resident leucistic woodpecker that comes every day to our feeded in Hampden Massachusetts, I took some photos and would like to post one of them...

Posted by: Pierre Bessette | 19 Jun 2010 23:59:46

Leucistic oystercatcher

I've just photographed a leucistic oystercatcher in Point Chevalier, Auckland, New Zealand. How do I post the photograph?

Posted by: Andrew Bogle | 13 Mar 2010 21:55:48

Enter photos

How do I give you a photo of a leucistic sparrow that I took in my yard?

Fay Goldie

Posted by: Fay Goldie | 25 Jan 2010 01:11:16

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