Is this a magpie with leucism?

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catherinebee
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Is this a magpie with leucism?

For the last few weeks, every time I walk to the shops, I've seen a whitish bird hanging around with a group of magpies and I wondered what it was.  When I stopped and looked closer, I realised it resembled its magpie friends in every way except for its colour.  So I googled "white magpie" and noted that there are magpies without the usual pigment but that it seems to be very uncommon.   I know very little about birds (although I always like to try and identify birds when I don't know what they are) and thus I just wanted to make sure that the bird wasn't some other species that closely resembled magpies. 

So I thought I would post my picture to see what others thought.  I live on the mid North Coast of NSW.  

Btw I noticed a yellow line down the bird's right leg - it is also evident on a couple of other photos I took.


 


 

zosterops
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yes

catherinebee
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Thanks Zosterop. 

How common are these leucistic magpies?  One article said they were very rare but I wondered just how rare.  

I did wonder also about the yellow stripe down the leg - I wondered whether it had been tagged.

zosterops
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Not sure on exact prevalence though you can be assured it's fairly rare.

Leucism can affect the pigmentation of tissues other than feathers (and animals other than birds) I so reckon the yellow stripe on the leg could perhaps be part of the mutation. 

pacman
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Catherine - do you happen to live at Dunbogan, NSW? - http://www.birdsinbackyards.net/forum/unusual-bird-including-pic

Peter

catherinebee
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Thanks for your link :)

I don't live far from there - I live at Port Macquarie.

Actually, I was speaking to a friend about the bird yesterday and he says he has seen a couple in PM so it looks like there might be a few of them up this way!

This particular one hangs around with about 4 other magpies in a park next to a school and, up to a few days ago, has been there every day (the bad weather is probably keeping them away right now)

Snail
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Hi Catherine I live in Port and would love to see this bird, could you please tell me the exact location?

LM

catherinebee
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LPMurphy wrote:

Hi Catherine I live in Port and would love to see this bird, could you please tell me the exact location?

Hi Liam, he hangs around the front (western end) of St Josephs Primary School in Walters St near Settlement City.  There is a tiny close called Drew Close which is right opposite where I usually see him although he and his pals also spend time the western wall of the school.  He is usually there every day although I tend to see him more in the afternoon than the morning. 


Catherine

Snail
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Thanks heaps, I'll head over there and hopefully I can find him! 

LM

timrob
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Wow!  I've not seen one that white, but for birdo's in Brisbane there is one at UQ. It seems to favour the lawn in front of St Leo's College. This photo was taken in January 2014 but it was still there this January.

catherinebee
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timrob wrote:

Wow!  I've not seen one that white, but for birdo's in Brisbane there is one at UQ. It seems to favour the lawn in front of St Leo's College. This photo was taken in January 2014 but it was still there this January.

He is an unusual looking chap!    I don't think I've seen a magpie with a white head.

With mine, he is just a very light brown where he would normally be black but his pattern is otherwise normal whereas yours has an overall unusual pattern. 

catherinebee
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LPMurphy wrote:

Thanks heaps, I'll head over there and hopefully I can find him! 

Good luck - hope you manage to find him.   I walked past there early this morning on the way to the shops but couldn't see him but then I never see many birds in the morning, they seem to be all up in the trees at that time.  Afternoons seem better.

If you do see him, you'll probably see that the brown bits are slightly darker IRL than in the photo. 

sylviadivemaster
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And this was taken in front of the lake at UQ on Feb 13, 2016 .... so may be it is the same one ... I thought it may be a youngster of yours .... but it may be the same one.

catherinebee
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He looks just like TimRob's bird doesn't he.  If he isn't the same bird, he has to be related for sure, the markings are so similar. 

*My* bird (which I haven't seen for a while) had 3 other magpie friends with normal markings and I did womder if they were relatives because his blotches were in the same pattern as their normal markings.   

sylviadivemaster
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that was what crossed my mind, catherine, when i first saw this bird ... it looks like a film negative of the usual bird.  I have been photographing birds and their youngs.  Juvenile magpies do have slightly lighter colours .... but the white on this one was just so opposite to the dark.

I guess I am posting here, hoping that some ornithologist can shed some light on what we are dicussing here.

timrob
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On Wikipedia, leucism is defined as  :  Wikipedia - Leucism Leucism (/ˈljuːkɪzəm/;[1] or /ˈluːsɪzəm/[2][3]) is a condition in which there is partial loss of pigmentation in an animal resulting in white, pale, or patchy coloration of the skin, hair, feathers, scales or cuticle, but not the eyes.[1] Unlike albinism, it is caused by a reduction in multiple types of pigment, not just melanin.

It is different to, for example "pied" which means "black and white" like pied butcherbid.

Hope that helps

Tim

oconnore51
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That makes a great photo, sylviadivemaster.  Beautiful bird.

Elizabeth

elizabeth

catherinebee
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I had another look at pacman's link to the bird in Dunbogan that looks like my one and I noticed the comment about it being a cinnamon mutation - i.e. everything that should be black was cinnamon but the pattern is the normal "magpie" pattern.

While looking up the other link, I came across this link:

http://www.birdsinbackyards.net/forum/Can-someone-tell-me-what-bird

which looks like it is the same bird that timrob was talking about and looks similar to your one.   Someone on that thread called it a "pied mutation".  As you pointed out, your magpie doesn't seem to have the usual magpie pattern but rather what had black and white markings in random spots (except for the wing) and looks like "negative" version of the usual magpie, black where while should be and vice versa.  

Btw is it just me or is your magpie rather slimmer than my one  or is it just the angle?

sylviadivemaster
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All pied magpies are pied - dual colour.  But what does one call a magpie that is black where it should be white and white where it normally would be black, tim?

And yes, this bird is rather slim compared to a typical adult magpie - which was the reason that I thought that it would have been a youngster to tim's original bird from two years ago.  It hangs around the lake.  And the normal magpie youngsters hatched earlier this year or late last year are about the size of this one.

sylviadivemaster
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Thank you, Elizabeth

Regards

Sylvia

Bird novice
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Hi there, I know very little about birds but spotted this same bird this morning (17/1/17) out at UQ St Lucia.  I quickly grabbed a photo although not that clear (just using my iphone).  I was wondering if it was a magpie and then it was confirmed as it had a baby magpie (normal colouring) squawking behind it! So obviously it is doing well to have a baby/babies  :)  Haha, poor thing might be getting sick of the paparazzi soon  :) I found your forum by googling albino magpies as I wasn't sure if that was what it was and then I see all these posts about this bird  :)  Was so lucky to happen to spot it myself.  Will upload the photo I got when I get the chance to get if off my phone.

sylviadivemaster
sylviadivemaster's picture

I just saw him this afternoon at St Leo's ... his mouth was full of worms and there was a normal magpie following him around.  It was so noisy with all the residents of St Leo outside down a makeshift waster slide and all but it did not faze him one bit .... how long do magpies live?  Compared to my last photo, it seemed to have become more brownish around the head, lost the dark feathers near its knees and its shoulders appear to have less dark feather  .... wondering if same bird or the next gen ...

Photo here : https://www.instagram.com/p/BngfKdTHjXu/?taken-by=sylviadivemaster

Woko
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“Their life expectancy is round (sic) 25 years, and some claim even longer, up to 30 years.” (Gisela Kaplan: Australian Magpie).

AJ Anderson
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Looks like it has Yellow eyes...?

That would be a leucistic Pied Currawong maybe.

Magpies have red/brown and Black eyes.

AusGeo Pied Currawong

BIBY Pied Currawong

BirdPerson2
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It would be the same bird. First picture of this UQ bird from Jan 2014 looks like a younger version, and it's only been 4 years. 

She has a baby now, which I saw her feeding. The baby is more black than her, but still more white than what I assume a baby magpie should have. I would have gotten a photo of the baby but it was happy up in the tree and I didn't want to get swooped. I sit there too often to want to be on bad terms with the birds...

The white magpie seems really tolerant, and seems to always check if I will offer food whenever I sit there for lunch (because once I did, oops). There was a normal magpie sticking around too, which didn't bother her so perhaps it's the father of her baby.

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