What colour is that bird? The causes and recognition of common colour aberrations in birds

Published on 28 January 2013 in Main articles

by Hein van Grouw

Abstract The naming of colour aberrations in birds still causes widespread difficulty and confusion. This paper introduces a uniform system of nomenclature and provides a simple identification key for the most common plumage aberrations. Six main aberrant plumage types are grouped, named by their pigment reductions (gene actions). Identifying colour mutations in the field can be extremely difficult but this paper should make it possible to name many mutations correctly.

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An adult male House Sparrow in Dumfries & Galloway, in April 2010. This bird is NOT a ‘partial albino’ – no such thing exists – the white feathers are caused by Progressive Greying. Pic by Gavin Chambers