May 1, 2014
Merry Ann Frisby
A rare white pileated woodpecker is visiting homeowner Mary Wise in Thomasville, Georgia. On April 22, it finally posed for a portrait.
The leucistic pileated woodpecker has been mistaken for the ivory billed woodpecker, which is likely extinct.
“I was surprised and excited to see this beautiful bird return,” said Levings.
Researchers from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology say that the phenomenom — also known as “partial albinism” — is infrequent but not unknown in wild bird populations. It results from a reduction or absence of melanin, a dark pigment, in the feathers.
“It is not unusual for such birds to retain other feather pigments, such as reddish carotenoids, resulting in unusually patterned plumage such as in the recently found Pileated Woodpecker,” said the university team. “From 2000-2006, Project Feeder-Watch participants reported fewer than 1,000 leucistic birds. There were 5.5 million birds reported each season.”