For the past couple of weeks a rare leucistic mallard has been frequenting the shoreline at LaSalle Park in Burlington Ontario.
NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.
Leucism is a common cause of unusual plumage in waterfowl. As we can see in the image above, this leucistic mallard has white plumage with some dark highlights. The plumage of a typical female mallard is much darker with predominantly dark brown feathers with a mix of orange/yellow and black highlights.
Leucism is an inherited trait that disrupts the deposition of melanin and causes a partial loss of pigmentation in an animal.
Leucistic birds are often confused with albino birds. True albino birds lack melanin completely in their feathers, eyes and skin. Their eyes are colourless, but can appear pink or red. This is caused by the blood in their eyes that can be visible through the clear tissue.
Albino birds are very sensitive to light and have poor vision and depth perception. As a result they typically do not live long enough to breed as they are easy prey for predators.
Leucistic birds have dark eyes and normal vision. They have higher survival rates, and are more prevalent in wild bird populations than are true albinos.
Leucistic mallards are quite rare. Tys Theijemijer, the Head of Natural Lands at the Royal Botanical Gardens, was quoted in a recent news report as saying, “I have never see one like this and I have observed 10,000 plus mallard ducks over the years.”
Bird photographers in the Burlington Ontario area have a very rare opportunity to see and photograph this rare leucistic mallard. Visitors should be aware that much of the lower parking lot at LaSalle Park is closed off at this time. If there is no parking available at the lower level, visitors may need to park at the higher level parking lot and walk down to the LaSalle Park shoreline.
Photographs were captured handheld using camera gear as noted in the EXIF data. All images were produced from RAW files using my standard process.
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