A Blackbird called Pinto...

To: <>, <>
Subject: A Blackbird called Pinto...
From: "John Cummings" <>
Date: Wed, 10 Aug 2005 16:58:35 +1000

Several years ago I had on a count site a Mongolian (Lesser) Sand Plover that had completely white plumage but dark eyes.  I still have the photos of this some where.  It was an interesting time identifying this bird and the other counters and I had an interesting time with that.  We even sent the photo of to our count coordinators for verification.


From memory this bird stayed at the site for around three months early in the return season.  It was not banded.


John Cummings

Mission Australia

Ph 02 6230 0182

Fax 02 6230 0181

Mob 0402 181 002

Email m("","cummingsj");">


The great tragedy of life is not death, but what we let die inside of us while we live.

From: [
Sent: Wednesday, 10 August 2005 4:33 PM
Subject: [canberrabirds] A Blackbird called Pinto...


There are various kinds of plumage abnormalities recorded in birds, albinism amongst them.  Complete albinism is the total lack of pigment in feathers and tissue (i.e. pink eyes, legs, etc), with partial albinism the situation as described for John’s blackbird (though pied is also appropriate).  Other forms of plumage abnormalities include leucism (lack of certain pigments, leading to ‘washed out’ plumage where other pigments predominate, possibly the case with the YTBC at Wamboin), xanthochroism (replacement of certain pigments with yellow – apparently rare), melanism, etc.  There is a very thorough paper on the subject by B.L.Sage in the journal British Birds from (I think) 1963.  I published a review of the incidence of albinism and melanism in Aussie birds some years go (see Lepschi, B.J. (1990). The incidence of albinism and melanism in Australian birds: a review of the literature. Corella, 14: 82-85).  I haven’t got it to hand at the moment but from memory Blackbirds featured quite highly, along with the Australian Magpie.  Probably no coincidence that the species for which these abnormalities were most often recorded were common, familiar birds frequently seen around human habitation (therefore with a higher chance of being seen and reported).  Still, these abnormalities have been recorded in all sorts of groups, from waders to treecreepers to parrots to honeyeaters.  The most spectacular I have seen was a blackbird in which the wing feathers (primaries) alternated black and white.




-----Original Message-----
From: [
Sent: Wednesday, August 10, 2005 10:21 AM
To: ;
Subject: [canberrabirds] [UNCLASSIFIED]RE: [canberrabirds] A Blackbird called Pinto


pied is correct

albino is almost always an all white animal, often with pink or blue eyes depending on the animal. Albino is a complete loss of pigment.

From: John Layton [
Sent: Tuesday, 9 August 2005 8:28 PM
To: chat line
Subject: [canberrabirds] A Blackbird called Pinto

Jack Holland wrote,


"Geoffrey, a very similar pattern to a blackbird that was regularly seen in
our garden pre the fires, but in that case only one or two of the primary
feathers were white."


Maybe I should pull in my wise, wooly little head. See, I'm currently drafting an Odd Ob for Canberra Bird Notes that features a male Common Blackbird that had a heavily white-streaked crown, nape and mantle. Amazingly, Pinto (as we called him) and his missus built a nest in our ... but no, that would spoil the story. So, you'll just have to wait until / if it's published.


So, could someone tell me the correct _expression_ for this partial white plumage. Partial albinism?



John Layton.






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