17 April 2016

Piebald robin

Images cropped for size from the originals, with full credit to naturalist/photographer Dan Sonnenberg who spotted the bird here in central Wisconsin.

A quick web search reveals numerous reports and one compilation of sightings of similar birds.  The terms used vary from albino to leucistic to piebald.  I favor the latter as being descriptive without implying a mechanism, and for the etymological reference to magpies.


  1. To be albino, the bird would need to completely lack melanin (it would be completely white and have red eyes). Piebald and leucistic are both correct here, with piebald being a more specific term describing leucism expressed in white patches rather than an overall lighter color.

  2. Albinism wouldn't necessarily make a robin all white. It would likely still have it's red breast (probably a little lighter). Albinism only strips melanin and leaves other pigments unaffected. For example, in ball pythons, Albinism turns the black pattern (completely melanin) white but turns the brown pattern (melanin and xanthophore) yellow.


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