You are right. We should be more careful about the terms. In the case of
the Kestrel, it was just a leucistic individual. I agree with you that it
is better to talk about grey and white morphs of the Grey Goshawk, in that
"phase" suggests something that will pass with time.
At 14:31 8/01/98 +1000, you wrote:
>David Andrew gets to vent his spleen every so often, regarding proper
>use of the English language. I'd like to inflame a few passions now in
>having a lash at this "phase versus morph" thing.
>A grey phase Nankeen Kestrel is one that presumably will return to
>normal nankeen colouration later on, ie. it's going through a phase.
>However, a grey morph Nankeen Kestrel will presumably retain that
>genetic makeup until death.
>So, if you feel the need to be "nitpickingly" accurate, talk about white
>morph Grey Goshawks, pale morph Little Eagles, black morph White-winged
>Fairy-wrens, etc. - rather than white phase, .... etc.
>That feels better ..
>On the subject of colour in birds, a friend in Geelong had recently been
>observing a strange looking honeyeater in his garden. One night it had
>found itself confined in the neighbour's greenhouse, so Ira took his
>chance, captured the bird, and rang me. It turned out to be a New
>Holland Honeyeater, but one considerably lacking in melanin. The beak
>and legs were horn coloured, the eyes pinkish, most of the plumage a
>washed out pale buff-grey, but the white and yellow feathers quite
>normal. Is this a "leucistic" bird, or just a "negatively melanistic"
>Geelong, Victoria, Australia
Associate Professor John M. Penhallurick<>
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