Eagle with unusual coloring
January 10th, 2020

Eagle with unusual coloring

Although these eagles were quite a distance from me in a Bay View field, I could see the eagle on the left had unusual coloring. A large drainage ditch prevented me from getting any closer for a more detailed image. My research suggests a genetic mutation called “leucism,” where pigment is absent from some feathers. According to thespruce.com: “While leucism can be unusual and exciting for a birder to see, birds with the condition face special challenges in the wild. Lighter plumage may rob the birds of protective camouflage and make them more vulnerable to predators such as hawks and feral cats. Because plumage colors play an important role in courtship rituals, birds with leucism may be unable to find strong, healthy mates. Melanin is also an important structural component of feathers, and birds with extensive leucism have weaker feathers. This means the leucistic feathers will wear out more swiftly, making flying more difficult and eliminating some of the bird’s insulation against harsh weather. White feathers also reflect heat more efficiently, which can be fatal for birds that rely on sunbathing and solar radiation to keep warm in northern climates.”

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About Photographer Steve Berentson

A fourth generation Skagit County native who was moved kicking and screaming from this island community in 1960. I finally reclaimed an Anacortes address in 1980, and I have been in constant celebration of my return since that time. Many of us who call Anacortes home love Fidalgo Island for its natural assets: among them are rugged beaches, pristine lakes, thousands of acres of forestland and some awesome views of the Skagit Valley and surrounding islands. Another element of my love affair with this community is its people, both natives and immigrants. They will “star” in many of my journal entries.

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