In the spring, dozens of different birds actively return to Belarus, among which the most noticeable starlings. Their melodious singing and unusual coloring with bright specks attracts the attention of them even those people who are not particularly interested in birdwatching. Therefore it is not surprising that white starling created a certain sensation in Minsk.

White shpak near Minsk

This unusual coloring is due to the fact that this common shpak has leucism (leucism). Leucism in birds is a genetic condition that causes partial loss of pigmentation. This is different from albinism, where melanin is absent entirely, while leucism results in partial loss of pigment, making the bird lighter or spotted, but not completely white.

White shpak
Unusual spatula
What does the common starling (Sturnus vulgaris) look like?
Regular spatula

Leucism is caused by a mutation in the genes responsible for the production and distribution of melanin, the main pigment that gives color to feathers. Birds with leucism usually have normally colored eyes, beaks and skin, which distinguishes them from albinos.

Sturnus vulgaris white

This phenomenon does not occur with the same frequency in all bird species, and reasons why it occurs more frequently in some species may include both genetic predisposition and environmental factors. Leucism can affect a bird's chances of survival in the wild, as lighter or spotted feathers can make it more visible to predators or make it more difficult for it to find a breeding partner.

Bird with leucism

It is difficult to say what the fate of the white starling in Minsk will be. On the one hand, it is clear that the bird keeps itself quite isolated, but it cannot be said that it is somehow downtrodden and has no contact with its relatives at all.

An unusual bird in Belarus

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