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In pictures: Festive robin with ‘Santa beard’ spotted

Santa Robin, which was photographed by Ian Wilson in Derbyshire, has a condition known as leucism.

Santa Robin, which was photographed by Ian Wilson in Derbyshire, has a condition known as leucism.


Ian Wilson in Derbyshire sent these pictures of a robin with a condition called leucism to the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO).

The BTO has appealled to householders across the UK to look out for strange looking birds in their gardens this winter as part of their Abnormal Plumage Survey.

Tim Harrison, BTO Abnormal Plumage Survey coordinator, said: “The red breast of a Robin doesn’t just make it look pretty - it plays an important role in its life. Unlike most other garden birds, Robins defend their territories throughout the year and display using their breast to warn rivals to ‘keep out’. It is possible that a white ‘beard’ could affect this communication.”

Leucism is a very unusual condition that effects the pigmentation cells in an animal or bird, meaning the cells fail to develop properly. This can result in unusual white patches appearing on the animal like in the robin pictured, or, in some very rare cases the creature becomes completely white.

 

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